Coping Cards

Every Day is a New Opportunity to Try Again

I know how difficult it can be to cope with body-focused, repetitive behaviors—we feel angry and defeated when we experience setbacks. So this post is meant to serve as a little reminder that every day is a new opportunity to try again.

Sometimes we just don’t have the strength or mental bandwidth to control our BFRBs. We don’t even care if we pick our skin, pull our hair, or bite our cheeks and nails—at least at the moment.

Often we tell ourselves that we’ll start all over again tomorrow, next week, or on some special occasion, but we always slip back into the vicious cycle of habit.

We keep trying and restarting 100 times, and it’s frustrating. But remember, that’s okay and is part of recovery from BFRB.

You can do it! One day at a time, one trigger, and one BFRB at a time. Your future self will thank you for keeping trying.

I assure you that over time your BFRBs will become easier to manage and the damage you cause with picking, pulling, and biting will be less severe.

See your dermatillomania, trichotillomania, or onychophagia as your internal body alarm system. Some triggers will even be easy to spot and prevent.

For example, do you need a break, are you hungry or thirsty, are you tired, is the film you’re watching too scary for you, or is the phone call taking too long?

So remember, every day (and every hour) is a new opportunity to be stronger than your urges and to learn more about what you need to do to feel and cope better!

Sending you positive BFRB coping energy, Anja

Coping Cards

It’s Okay to Slip. The Goal Is Not to Slip as Hard or as Often.

Healing is not linear, so don’t be too hard with yourself when you have a setback. Feeling bad about relapses only fuels negative emotions and thus BFRB episodes.

While your ultimate goal is likely to stop your BFRBs completely, the chances of achieving that goal overnight are very slim.

Therefore, it can be helpful to focus on smaller goals first, such as not slipping as hard or as often.

That way, instead of feeling like a failure because you can’t achieve the big goal of being BFRB-free, you can focus on smaller victories. The resulting positive feelings will aid your healing progress. 

Pat yourself on the shoulder if you managed to back off after just picking a spot or two and not ending up in a full BFRB episode.

Or be proud if you haven’t chewed your nails for several days when you couldn’t leave them alone for a few minutes beforehand.

Take it step by step. Over time, you will get more and more control over you­­r BFRBs. And thus, the picking- and pulling-free periods will last longer, and the setbacks will not be as damaging as they were before.

Coping Cards

It’s Okay. Keep Going.

Setbacks are part of the healing process from body-focused repetitive behaviors. Our BFRBs are deeply ingrained, and if it were easy to “just stop,” we wouldn’t be here, eh! 🙄

Therefore, it helps me if I accept that fact – it makes it a little easier for me to forgive myself if I slip. 

Feeling negative or self-loathing during or after a picking or biting episode will only make the situation worse.

With this in mind, I’m trying to change my inner monologue: from “since I screwed up, I can keep picking and biting” to “it’s okay if I get lost in a BFRB episode. Keep going and focus on the healing path.”

To sum it up, let me tell you: It’s okay to slip. The aim is not to slip as hard and as often.

Sending you much love. Anja

Coping Cards

I Can Learn to Live With Imperfect Skin

Whenever I see very tempting bumps on my skin, I tell myself, “I can learn to live with imperfect skin,” trying to convince myself not to give in to the urge to “fix” them. Because once I start, I can’t stop myself.

The goal is to accept pimples, blemishes, and little bumps. The urge to pick becomes less intense when we accept what’s underneath the skin.

When we have better control of our dermatillomania, our skin has time to heal. The skin becomes healthier and looks better. And in return, we get the motivation not to pick our skin and ruin the progress we’ve made in weeks or even months.

What does perfect skin look like anyway? I think I’m slowly awakening from decades of distorted thoughts about what skin should look like. 

Even though we know that the images of people with seemingly natural, perfect skin that we see in magazines, billboards, and social media are edited, we still strive for that impossible “glass skin.”

But certain bumps, a pimple or two (or 4 or 5), and little bits of redness are perfectly normal. Healthy skin isn’t flawless. “Perfect” skin is more likely to be an outlier. There is nothing to feel bad about!

I keep trying to get the best version of my skin through the right skincare routine and remind myself that nobody really sees my skin up close anyway.

And if they do, they probably don’t care if I have uneven skin or not. Everyone is preoccupied with their insecurities and thoughts.

Find alternatives to keep your nervous system calm and satisfied

Fixing imperfections due to visual triggers is one thing. The satisfying feeling of popping pimples, pulling ingrown hair, or getting the white stuff out of blemishes is a whole different matter. 

Our BFRBs are the wrong coping mechanisms for fear, anxiety, stress, or boredom.

We even get hooked on the sensation we get when we pick our skin, bite our nails and cheeks. These things cause our brains to release dopamine, which makes us feel better – at least for the moment.

We need to find new habits to calm our nervous system and new ways that provide soothing sensations. 

Coping with BFRBs is a personalized experience. It is specific to your needs. So try to mix and match coping techniques and develop your own strategy that works best for you. 

I keep my fingers busy with fidget toys and calm my mind with breathing exercises, sport, and meditation. It’s a constant learning and adaptation process.

Coping Cards

Pssst … Your Are Not Alone

Suffering from BFRBs can sometimes feel very isolating. Family and friends sometimes don’t understand why we do this to ourselves and why we don’t just stop picking, pulling, or biting. In these situations, please remember that you are not alone!

For me, the realization that I wasn’t alone with BFRBs came in layers.

First, I found out that BFRBs existed at all. Finally, I knew that skin picking, nail-biting, and cheek biting were serious problems, not just bad habits.

And then I found out on social media that I wasn’t alone with my struggle. I read other people’s stories and saw myself – “That’s me!”, “My skin looks the same!”, “I do the same!”

Looking at pictures of other people struggling with BFRBs opened my eyes. For so many years, I thought I was alone with this problem.

I am so grateful to have finally found people with whom I can exchange experiences and tips. People who understand how I feel and know what I am going through because they have the same or similar struggle to some extent.

Support groups and inspiring social media accounts

Here are just a few social media accounts where you can find information, courage, support, motivation, positive attitude, advice, inspiration, and where you can connect with people. 


@bfrbcoping (this is my Instagram account where I show a bit more behind the scenes)



BFRB Coping (yes, I’m on FB too. A little less active there, but I’m working on it 😉
Skin Picking Support
BFRB Support
Dermatillomania/Excoriation disorder & BFRB support