Any tips on how to stop bad habits?

This gets kind of disgusting.

I pick my lips with my teeth and fingers and then eat the skin. It rarely bleeds, but when it does, I usually suck at it. They always hurt a lot. Similarly, I also bite and eat the inside of my cheeks. I think they’ve scarred a bit. I used to chew my tongue and take pieces off, too, and will start chewing my tongue on occasion. Sometimes I’ll find tweezers and rip my leg hair out. Or I’ll pick and pinch at my skin (usually collarbones) until it gets red.

I have a speculation that these behaviors may be because of stress. Or maybe something else, I’m not sure. But I’m running out of gum and chapstick and it’s not working well for me, ahah


It really does sound as though stress is a factor. I did the lip biting thing for many years, but I have pretty much let go of that. It happened mostly when I was living in cold weather and my lips would be dry and flaky. I used to chew on my cheeks a lot, but now it’s pretty rare.

It might be helpful to look for correlations, but realize they may not always be the actual cause. Take note of your emotional state, the circumstances and whatever else seems noteworthy when you notice yourself doing those things. The first step is to take notice when such behaviors occur. With a deeply ingrained habit, a person may be doing the behavior while being totally unconscious of it. So, the more you work at it, the better you will be at noticing when you are doing it, as well as what may be triggering the habits.

The most successful way of turning away from bad habits is to turn towards healthier ones. It could be said that bad habits are a maladaptive coping strategy, and because a coping strategy is still needed, it’s best to look for a truly adaptive one.

It may not be stress. It may simply be an excess of nervous energy. If that’s the case, exercise may help. Alternatively perhaps you can have one of those “stress balls” to squeeze, as they redirect the sensory experience to something more benign.

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Thank you.

I’ve tried noticing when I do it, mostly the lip and cheek thing. It seems to be mainly boredom or stress, but sometimes I catch myself doing it and I don’t even realize that I am.

I think using something sensory like a stress ball works. I’ve tried it before. It shuts my mind up, too, which is beneficial since I tend to pester myself and think of all the reasons why for something that’s bothering me. Or maybe fabric because I always rub the bottoms of my shirts.

I’ve tried stopping without anything else to turn to but that obviously didn’t do anything. Ah, anyways, thank you

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Hi there and welcome – thanks for being vulnerable and honest. Human. And yes, I agree that stress/anxiety is likely a root cause. These behaviors feel totally subconscious and you’ll need to be intentional about noticing each time you turn to the ritual for comfort, and then take a moment. Alternative releases like gum or a ball to keep your hands busy may relieve the health of your mouth, but they won’t address the source of your anxiety.
If you are able to speak with a counselor to gain some understanding as to causes and strategies that would be great – what you are experiencing is real and legit.
Exploring some basic breathing techniques, meditation, and like Wings offered – exercise to adopt a strategy that addresses the stress reaction may help.
You are worth the real effort to heal this issue.
All the best and feel free to check back in.


Thank you.

I’m one of the main causes of my stress and anxiety or whatever else it may be. I tend to overthink a lot and it’s hard to get my mind to shut up which is why I ramble a lot. I have a lot going on in my head and I don’t express it to the people around me very often.

These habits have been with me (lip and cheek chewing) for years and years. Being aware of what I’m doing is difficult because of that. I’m sure therapy would help with my stress regarding the past and present, but there’s currently a 2 month wait.
Besides therapy, I haven’t found any ways to relieve my stress or anxiety, really. Even if I do create some form of art, I’m still thinking about that stresser. I feel as though I’m making excuses. Cleaning helps me to feel better and allow my mind to shut off for some reason.
Exercise (such as a walk) wouldn’t be bad because I know I should be more active. The only issue, one I cannot help for, are my pathetically weak lungs. But, I’ll look into it.