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Monday, June 16, 2014

Musing Mondays - Breaking Bad... Habits That Is.

It's Musing Monday at the Realm and today, I come to you late because of two bad habits, to discuss a third.

Bad Habit 1:  I stayed up too late.  Again.
Thus, I overslept.  Again.

Bad Habit 2:  Procrastination.  I "forgot" I had a blog due this morning.  Thus, this is just now being written (after noon).

Bad Habit 3:  Chewing.  After a seriously busy week of college essays, writing projects, and intensive blogging my thumb and index finger look like they went through a meat grinder.

I think back on this bad habit, wondering exactly when it began.  I don't remember chewing my fingers to the bone when I was a child.  I did, however bite my nails, and my pencils always looked like this:

Now that my work involves more typing than holding a pencil, I guess I've just started chewing on the next best thing.  My index finger is usually the victim.  Next, the thumb.  I haven't progressed to eating the rest of my hand... Yet.

In the grand scheme of things, there's a lot worse habits out there than the one I'm struggling to break.  I don't smoke.  I don't bite my nails anymore.  I don't drink.  I just chew my fingers to the bone.

Being the curious sort, I Googled "chewing compulsion".  I caught myself chewing the side of my finger off while researching.  There are a few big words out there that define the need to chew, but simply put, it's a nervous habit.  It's often seen in those with O.C.D.  (Ahem)

I tend to chew whenever I pause my typing to ponder something.  Talk about giving new meaning to, "Let me chew it over."  Most of the time, I don't realize I'm doing it. 

As those of you that have toured The Realm know, I keep a stash of Blow Pops, Tootsie Pops, Ring Pops, and Dum-Dum pops near my writing desk.  This was my way of keeping myself from chewing my fingers to bloody pulps.  But, I have found this method of avoidance to be unhealthy, impractical, and really bad for my teeth.  Last week, I went through an entire bag of Ring Pops.

And let's face it, indulging in a bag of suckers just so I won't chew on my fingers isn't breaking the habit, or correcting my behavior, it's indulging my need to chew (and my sweet tooth).  In the end, it doesn't solve anything.

I realized this morning I must break this habit.  My finger is swollen, stiff, and sore from knuckle to knuckle.  The skin is calloused, rough, and peeling. Breaking a habit, especially one that is unconscious, is very hard to do.  My husband isn't always around to say, "You're chewing on your finger again." I don't always realize I'm doing it until the damage is done.  There's no "finger gnawing" detection service I know of.

So, how do I go about breaking this bad habit?


 Ben has a point.

I want to focus on preventing the chewing until it becomes a thing of the past.

So far:

I've tried chewing gum while I work.
It works, but my jaws get sore, and really, is chewing sugary gum any better than chomping sugary suckers?  Not really.

I've tried that stuff you put on your nails to keep you from biting them.
Didn't work.  I ended up chewing around the foul tasting stuff.

I've tried keeping "fidgets" near the computer.  Little stress balls, worry stones, squishy animals...  Didn't work. I'd forget to reach for them while thinking.  Too busy mutilating my digits.

I've tried wrapping my finger and thumb in those thick cloth bandages.
Worked.  I don't like the taste of Bandaid.  Curad tastes even worse.

But... Buying bulk boxes of bandages gets expensive!

Looked like I needed a reusable bandage of some sort.  Do they even make those?  Yes.  Kind of.

I shopped around for finger splints/bandages.  I looked at the kind that slide over your fingertip.  Not long enough and it would be hard to type with those on. I considered the metal style splints.  Still too hard to type with those on.  It had to be something that would cover the entire thumb and finger, except for the tip, and be strong enough to endure some chewing whenever I slip up.  The "Ace" bandage style has an open tip, but the thin fabric shreds when you chew it. They just won't hold up for long.

Finally, I found these little wonders:

The IMAK compression finger sleeve!  It's a sturdy neoprene like fabric.  It has a gel insert you can freeze.  The gel pad inside offers my finger a bit more protection, but I enjoyed the feel of it when I would slip up and attempt a nibble, so I took those out.  They came two to a box- which was perfect for my needs.  They're thick enough to hold up to my gnawing.  They are flexible with an open tip, so it's not been too hard to type while wearing them.  They come in different sizes, but I found that removing the pad allows the small to fit, even on my thumb.

This has worked for me!  When I remember to put them on, at least.  I try to keep them in my pocket if I think I'll be moving from room to room as I work.  Last week, I forgot a bit too often and my fingers paid the price.  I'm working hard on making it part of my daily writing routine to lather my healing finger with Neosporin, and then slip into the sleeves.

I've not broken my habit, but at least I'm preventing it.  Most of the time.

My hope is that an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

D.M. Kilgore  Breaking Bad

Maybe, I'll forget this strange need to chew, eventually.


Do you have a bad habit to break?

What's worked for you?

Tell me how YOU are Breaking Bad!


DogsMom said...

I think you have to substitute habits, and then wean yourself off from the lesser desired substitute.
You did make me laugh with your comparisons about which bandages taste better than others.

Don't get me started on my own bad habits. More than I should admit to.

Have you considered wearing a mouth guard?

DM Kilgore said...

I actually tried a mouth guard. I ended up popping it loose to chew it to pieces. LOL

Katie Cross said...

Oh, that face! I love that face! You crack me up.

DM Kilgore said...

LOL I aim to humor. ;)

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