Self harm used to be a very big, and very real struggle for me. I think a few of you are probably aware of that fact. It came to my attention that a few people are interested in other coping mechanisms when the urge to self harm kicks in, and they would be interested in a list of self harm alternatives.
Firstly I’ll talk to you a little bit about my journey, in my early teen years I self harmed a great deal and it was at points my only coping mechanism until i started smoking. (Obviously I don’t recommend smoking instead of self harming, as smoking is very damaging) I self harmed every day, sometimes multiple times and it became this very big and guarded secret for me, I was so ashamed that I did it and honestly, I felt so very alone. I was struggling without support, as I was so scared to ask for it.
As time went on, my friends and family found out (which for me was the scariest thing that could happen, as I didnt feel like anybody would understand, and I didnt know how to explain why I did it, or why it helped me) I tried a number of things to try and stop self harming, and honestly in the end I felt like i was trying to stop harming to please others, so obviously it continued.
I think i truly stopped self harming during working at Mcdonalds, I’m not entirely sure why, probably something to do with working with food, the fact I was constantly seen by customers and was afraid to be judged etc, but I managed to nearly completely stop with the help of some distractions and worries the public would see my self harm, and that I might be sacked for it.
Below I’ve included a list of distractions which have helped me, and that I have seen suggested;
- Exercise (obviously it doesn’t work for everybody and some aren’t able to exercise, and it doesn’t automatically fix everything, but it can be handy to distract)
- Hitting cushions, biting cushions (or other fabric)
- Tearing up paper
- Watching funny youtube videos (as suggested by @mgl_alice)
- Spending time with a pet
- Music (music is always a must, especially with me, as sometimes the music expresses how i feel better than i do)
- Breathing exercises (this is something @lunarruler suggested and discussed in Discord)
- Writing lists (or writing in general)
- Call somebody close to you, or speak to someone about how youre feeling. (basically vent)
- Tidy up
- Beauty upkeep (Like plucking eyebrows, straightening hair as suggested by @jjongstal)
- Declutter your living space
- Tense all of your muscles and then focus on relaxing them
- Hold ice cubes (someone suggested putting red food colouring in them as well, to appeal to the urge visually)
- Reading (As suggested by @Morgana682)
- Light and incense, or use an oil diffuser.
- Draw with a red felt tip where you want to harm
- Have a screaming session
- Use elastic bands and ping them when you feel the urge to harm
- General cleaning (as suggested by @bpd_anonymous)
- Have a cold bath or shower, or just put your hands in cold water, maybe your face? (i don’t recommend hot water as this can be harmful)
- Write in a journal, or blog
- Play video games
- Write down all the negative thoughts (as was suggested by @emilyviolettx, I would add that ripping this up, or burning it is pretty awesome as well)
- Cry (there is absolutely no shame in crying, sometimes its a brilliant way to release emotion)
- Meditate (if you can)
- Nap (as was suggested by a Twitter user)
- Chew something with a strong taste
- Watch tv (maybe watch a comedy or a film you love)
- Squeeze a stress ball.
- Colouring (I do this an awful lot. Thankyou @alyssaxbrittany for replying to the Tweet)
This is the list I have for now, no doubt there are more and I’ll probably do another post about this at some point. Please feel free to comment your coping methods, and even comment your experiences on the ones I’ve touched on.
One last thing I do want to talk about is how to keep yourself safe and ensure you’re looking after yourself if you have harmed.
Remember there is no shame in RELAPSE, it is normal and definitely a big part of the journey. It’s how you recover from that, that is really important. It’s always good to write down your safety plan (for example, an emergency contact if you need immediate help, your emergency services number, and where your first aid kit is etc. Just so if you aren’t totally with it, you have created a clear plan to read)
I always suggest having a first aid kit on hand, making sure it is kitted out with stuff to clean a wound and dress it appropriately.
I also always stress that the equipment you harm with (if you keep it around) is sterile and stored in a place it won’t become contaminated. The last thing you want is an infected wound as it can be very messy, uncomfortable and sometimes extremely dangerous.