How to stop picking your nose (and eating it)

Posted on February 16, 2011


Dear readers,

Since my appearance at the BAFTAS was cancelled, I will write about something more entertaining, and infinitely less glamorous:

Why do people pick their nose and eat it??

Lets look at the definition, yes, there is a definition:

“Nose-picking is the act of extracting dried nasal mucus or foreign bodies from the nose with a finger.”

Interestingly, this is a very  common habit, yet it is a mildly taboo activity in most cultures. When this activity is observed by another, it provokes mixed feelings of disgust and amusement. What other activities can bring such sensations together?!

Some claim that there are health benefits.. But these are disgusting and not really scientifically backed and thus I do not feel that they are worth divulging into or opening that can of worms (if you know what I’m talking about).
I would, on the other hand, prefer to analyse the body of evidence that lists the disadvantages. Mainly, the habit proves to be such a body-focused repetitive behavior that it can lead to obsessive–compulsive disorder.

Personally, I find it both disgusting as well as rude. Why pay more attention to self-indulging in eating mucous than listening to another human being?

Luckily for all you diggers out there, WikiHow has published a list of how to stop picking your nose and eating it:

  1. Accept the problem. If you are picking your nose regularly, own up to it. A habit is something that we tend to stop noticing over time and just accept as the norm. Nose-picking without thinking about it is a bad habit that soon creeps into the public sphere as you justify it as “just a little pick”, or “people won’t notice”. People do notice and they don’t appreciate it, especially if close friends see you doing it constantly.
  2. Work out what triggers your need to pick your nose. If it is a habit, it is likely to have become a comfortable habit and is most likely a form of reassurance or something to do with your hands. On the other hand, there are legitimate reasons that might have lead you to start picking your nose that then turn into a continued habit. For example, you may have had a medical condition that caused the nasal cavity to become itchy, or filled with debris that you just had to remove or go nuts putting up with. If the problem is ongoing, then it is time to see your medical professional to see what the issue might be. It could be a sign of something more serious stuck up your nose than just your fingers. On the other hand, if the trigger is merely comfortable habit and some childish glee that comes from it, it is time to move onto habit-breaking.
  3. Resolve to stop. Some say habits take 21 days to break. For the next 21 days you have a task to stop picking that nose and to find something else to do with your errant fingers. Here are some things to try:
    • Note the times and occasions when you are more likely to pick your nose. Is it in front of the TV, is it when you feel stressed, is it when you feel bored, is it when you just can’t be bothered to go to the kitchen for a snack? Note the times and occasions and be prepared.
    • Affirm that you will stop. Do this every morning, noon, and night. Say to yourself out loud something like “My nose is clean. I am very busy with my hobby/TV program/teeth cleaning etc. so my nose is fine as it is.” This is a positive affirmation. If you say something negative like “Don’t pick your nose”, you subconscious will jolly well make sure that you do. Avoid the negative don’ts and only use positive do’s.
    • Leave yourself post-it notes around the place to remind you how clean your nose is.
    • Have alternatives. Give your fingers something else to do. Read a book and keep your fingers on the pages at all times. Eat some celery sticks and hummus when you’re hungry. Play Guitar Hero or Rock Band, play PS3 or Wii, computer games, board games, or do memory puzzles. Write stories, checks to pay bills, or other activities that will occupy your hands and time. Deal with any stressors that lead to nose-picking instead of picking the nose. If you find you pick your nose at times you can’t be busy (like going to bed or waking up) try wearing gloves. This will help stop yourself during the weak moment where your by yourself and you aren’t thinking clearly.
    • Use a handkerchief. Remove the offending nasal object neatly, swiftly and be done with it. Blow your nose for good measure.
  4. Ask others to help you. Choose people whom you trust and are intimate friends and ask them to kindly restrain your nose-picking habit by pointing out gently to you each time they view it. Have a code word or signal, such as a finger tapping their nose as a gentle reminder rather than an uncouth “Stop pickin’ ya nose will ya?”.
  5. Use the power of thought to help you break the habit. For example:
    • Think about what you are doing to your nose when you pick it. Untold germs are being stuck up it every time you pick it. And possibly other particles. Not to mention chemicals if you work in such industries as spray-painting, manicures, hairdressing, printing, gas stations, etc. And if you handle money, really think twice before removing your finger straight from the money to the nose…
    • Think about what people see when you pick your nose. They see someone who is unrestrained and ill-mannered, untaught in the ways of public etiquette, unhygienic and slothful. It connotes lack of respect for oneself and self-indulgence. All good if these are what you are meaning to portray but probably neither courtship material nor star employment candidature.
  6. Just don’t do it. Reverse the Nike formula and stop. Stop picking that nose of yours and let your nose breathe easy. It’s time to smell the roses rather than your pinky. And if you can’t do that, paint your finger tips with something smelly like anti-nail-biter solution. Put your nose off.
  7. Keep it inconspicuous if you must do it. If you really, really can’t resist, at least do it where nobody else can see you, or pick it inconspicuously. See “Warnings” if you just can’t stop; there may be a medical condition involved.
  8. One way out Every time you go to washroom make it a point to remove mucous from nostrils. The more you clean in closed quarters, the need or urge to pick nose subside.
  9. Clean out your nose every morning/evening. Try a sinus rinse that uses saline to wash out the place in your nose where the mucus originates. Eliminating the booger source, eliminates booger creation. No boogers, no urge to pick.
  10. Don’t let your finger go in. A band-aid is very helpful. One generally picks nose with a particular hand and a particular finger. Put a band-aid on that finger for a few days. The finger will not go unconciously in your nose. You might have a bad cold, causing your nose to go runny. This is annoying and you might feel the urge to just stick your finger up there but try to resist. For biting nails there is a special remedy you put on your finger and it tastes horrible, you could try this, if you eat your bogey, then it will help.


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