Do you track your BFRB habits? Tracking them is key for getting them under control and, hopefully, even curing your dermatillomania, trichotillomania, nail or cheek biting over time.
How many times have you picked, pulled, or scratched without even realizing it? How many times have you yelled at yourself to stop but couldn’t?
I think we all have been there. We pick our skin or pull our hair because this is our coping mechanism for trauma, stressful times, anxiety-induced situations, procrastination, or boredom.
BFRBs are ingrained habits that often happen automatically. The most important thing is to cultivate awareness of the patterns and disrupt them before responding to the triggers. Because, as you maybe know, once you give in to the urge, the downward spiral is pretty much unavoidable.
How to track your BFRB habits
By tracking your BFRB habits, you will become aware of when, where, and even why you pick your skin, bite your nails or pull your hair. You will better understand your triggers and feelings that call for relief through your BFRBs.
So every time you’ve had a relapse, make a note of the following:
- Date & Time
- Place: e.g., bathroom, car, work desk, doctors waiting room
- Situation: e.g., while grooming, in a meeting, in front of the mirror, studying, working, driving, reading, watching TV, …
- Thoughts & Feelings: What did you think and feel while you “zoned out.” What was the sensation you got from picking or pulling?
- Affected Areas: e.g., skin picking: fingers, face, shoulders, arms, legs, back, neck, lips, feet … hair pulling: scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, legs, arms, chest, face, pubic hair, …
- Time spent picking: 5 minutes, an hour?
- Urge Intensity: Rate the intensity of your urge to pick or pull from a scale of 1 to 10.
- Thoughts & Feelings after picking: How did you feel after am BFRB episode?
To track my dermatillomania, nail and cheek biting setbacks, I use the SkinPick App. The same app for trichotillomania is called TrichStop.
If you prefer, just write down your observations on paper.
With this information you can then develop your own coping strategy and hopefully intervene early enough the next time you get triggered. Get some inspiration on how to do that by following this link.
By tracking my body-focused repetitive behaviors, I was able to eliminate some “lighter triggers,” such as when watching TV, reading, or talking on the phone.
Seeing the positives of BFRB relapses by tracking them
I know, I know. How on earth can BFRB relapses be positive, right? I used to feel so angry, defeated, and hopeless after an episode of picking or biting. Sometimes I still am when I see the damage I’ve done.
However, ever since I’m tracking my BFRB habits, I see setbacks as an opportunity to optimize my coping strategy.
Also, the more I am aware of my body-focused repetitive behaviors, the more I become aware of the triggers. And knowing the triggers is quite empowering because I learn a lot about myself.
It might sound weird, but I feel like my nervous system is talking to me through my BFRBs? As if the scars, fresh wounds, or flaky fingers were to alert me to take better care of myself and my mental health. But that’s the topic for another post 💛
Give it a try and track your BFRB habits. I hope it gives you some insights!