It’s back, winter in Western New York, which means bitter cold winds, dry heat, and hot showers; all a recipe for dry uncomfortable skin, hair, and nails. Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as nail biting, skin picking, and hair pulling can be hard to manage this time of year without a good plan. If you want to learn more about BFRBs, hop on over to my blog post: Why am I damaging my hair, skin, & nails when I am stressed?

winter scene of snow on tree brances with the words written in purple "Thriving in Winter with Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors"

Six Tips to Managing Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors this Winter:

1. Love your skin:

It is that time of year when holiday items go on sale and there are often plenty of lotions and body products to choose from. Be aware that they are not all made the same and you will need to do a little research to find a product that is right for your skin needs as well as a sensory experience. Travel sizes may be a great way to see which ones you prefer.

2. Lip balm for days:

Many new holiday flavors may now be on sale and having a few can be helpful to use when you find yourself tugging or biting at dry lips. When you find the ones you like, set yourself up for success by keeping the lip balm in arms reach. Be aware of what setting you tend to engage in your BFRB and have your lip balm, lotion or whatever tool you are using handy. Maybe you get a few small bottles/ containers of a lotion or lip balm you like and keep one in your car, at your desk, on your nightstand, or near where you sit when watching TV – this is where knowing your specific BFRB needs can be very helpful.

3. No match for the chic winter style:

Many people find that they do not pull their hair when it is wet. If you are going out into the cold, then maybe drying your hair and pinning it up could be a deterrent. Even better yet, use winter fashion to your advantage and put on a hat and gloves. Be sure to take note of the soothing warm sensation that fuzzy hats and gloves provide. You can even wear your hat inside if you need to; it doubles as both a blocker for picking and pulling as well as a fashion statement.

4. Enjoy the sensations of the season:

Wrapping yourself up in a heavy blanket can feel like a cozy calming hug. Take notice of smells of winter; the cool crisp air, the earthiness of pine, the warmth of hot chocolate, and the energy of spiced tea. Winter can be a visually stimulating time too, when we take note of the sparkle of a fresh snowfall, the twinkle of lights, and the flicker of candles. Sound is an interesting thing to be aware of in the winter, especially since snow can act like an insulator and absorb noise. Thus creating a peaceful stillness that is interrupted by crunches in the snow.   

4. Fidget your way through the freeze:

There are lots of great items that are on sale that can be used for fidgeting and tactical enjoyment such as putties and slimes, spinners and fidget items including toys and jewelry, tinsel garland (great for pulling at), and 3D puzzles.

6. Physical and mental health check-in:

The New Year can be a time to check in with yourself and your wellness. It can include being more aware of how much water you are taking in throughout the day or finding ways to move your body, even stretching is helpful to your body and mind! You may need more support, talk with your doctor about vitamins you may need this time of year and consult your dermatologist about skincare options. Be sure you are checking on your mental health as anxiety and depression along with other mental health concerns can make it harder to manage Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors. 

We can help with Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors when you are ready.

If you live in the Western New York area and need support managing BFRBs, you are welcome to contact me for a free consultation. If you live outside of Western New York, you can search for a provider on the TLC Foundation for BFRBs website.

Clara Kuntz, Ph.D.

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