Self help for self harm

By  ReachOut     |    Updated: 23rd April, 2017    |    3 min read

In addition to other forms of support, self-help for self-harm can be useful in managing this habit; this includes releasing the energy or pent-up emotions that are driving you to self-harm in other ways and using alternatives to self-harm. Just remember to take care of yourself, and recognise that you might also need professional help to stop self-harming.

 This can help if:
  • You’re looking for alternatives to self-harm
  • You want to get help for self-harm
  • You want some suggestions for dealing with self-harm

Releasing emotion

As well as support from a friend, family member and/or health professional, it may also be necessary to create a list of alternative strategies to self-harm for managing your emotions.

If you are feeling like you want to harm yourself, there are a number of things that you can use to distract yourself until the feelings become more manageable. If you can, make sure that you are around other people and remove any sharp objects from the area.
Some ideas for releasing energy or feelings include:

  • Choose to put off harming yourself until you’ve spoken to someone else or waited for 15 minutes (and see if you can extend it for another 15 minutes beyond that, then continue to do it again and so on until the feeling passes).
  • Write in a journal – sometimes it can be really helpful to write down how you’re feeling and what is making you feel that way.
  • Exercise – Go for a run or walk in the park to use up excess energy.
  • Play video games – This may be a good way to distract yourself and help until the anxiety passes.
  • Yell or sing at the top of your lungs on your own or to music. You might do this into a pillow if you don’t want other people in the house to hear.
  • Relaxation techniques – activities like yoga or meditation are often helpful in reducing anxiety.
  • Cry – crying is a healthy and normal way (i.e. not weak or dumb) to express your sadness or frustrations.
  • Talk to someone – talk with a trusted friend or call a helpline.

Alternatives to self-harm

There are some more suggestions below that some people have tried if none of the above suggestions have helped. However, these suggestions will not help in the long run as they keep you from addressing the thoughts and feelings that result in this self-harming behaviour.
These suggestions are alternatives to self-harm but they are not a solution to the problem:

  • Punching a pillow or punching bag.
  • Squeeze ice cubes until your fingers go numb.
  • Eat a chilli, or something really hot.
  • Have a cold shower.
  • Draw or write in red over your body.

If you are finding that you are often using the self-harm help suggestions above, or similar ones, try talking to someone who can help you with longer term strategies.

Take care of yourself

It’s important to eat well, exercise and be kind to yourself. While it’s not a solution in itself, doing all these things contribute to a higher sense of self-worth, increased stability of moods, and better sense of wellbeing in general – making you feel more happy, on the outside and the inside.

Find out more about who you can talk to in our section on support services for self-harm.

What can I do now?

Also check the related topics:  

Self harm

Factsheet provided by ReachOut


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