Dave writes : I am struggling to keep my finger nails looking neat. I have been an habitual nail biter for many years and would love to stop as I am conscious when performing. Hope you can give me some advice?
There are a lot of performers that bite nails. It's a habit that goes hand in hand with being nervous or tense. However, a magicians hands are 'front of house' when they perform, so keeping your fingers in great shape is very important. The problem is that nail biting can often happen when you are feeling tense or nervous, and nervousness about performing magic doesn't help at all in these situations. The good news is that the problem can be fixed. Here's some tips:
Decide to deal with the problem
The first step is to notice the problem and make a commitment to stop right now. As with any habit, it's easy to put it off to some unspecified future date when 'it will be easier'. You need to take action to stop the habit right away.
- Take a photo of your nails and have a close look at it. Are they REALLY giving a good impression of you when you perform your magic?
- Notice the nails of magicians that don't bite nails. Being reminded of how much better their hands look will give you extra motivation.
- Remind yourself that intensive nail-biting can also lead to other health problems. Biting your nails transfers bacteria from your hands to your mouth.
Set a goal and picture the prize
Setting a goal can really help. Have a picture of a great looking pair of hands and put it by your bed or on your wall. I know that sounds silly, but you can glance at it when you find yourself tempted to bite your nails, and it will help you have second thoughts. Breaking the habit is all about stopping the behaviour until it becomes second nature.
It may be worth investing in having your nails professionally groomed. Paying for a manicure can be a real incentive to keep them looking great. It's really important that you keep your hands in good shape, use a hand moisturiser and look after them. They will be the centre of attention when you perform.
Getting professional help
If you are finding it a serious problem then you may want to speak to your Doctor about this. Nail biting could be a sign of a bigger issue such as Obsessive Complusive Disorder (OCD) There are treatments that can be done to remove this habit. Cognitive therapy has proven to be helpful.