It can be hard for people who self-harm to stop it by themselves. That’s why it’s important to get further help if needed; however, the ideas below may be helpful:
- Delay — try waiting 10 minutes before self-harming. If this works, try waiting 20 minutes, 30 minutes, one hour, one day etc. This may allow you to find other ways to cope and manage in the meanwhile.
- Distract — you can use distraction when you feel the urge to self-harm or when you are self-harming. You may want to try some exercise, call a friend, play with a pet, take a shower, go for walk, play a game, call a helpline, play loud music, clench then relax all your muscles.
- Divert — find an activity or perform an action which is similar to self-harm but does not cause injury, such as holding an ice-cube, having a cold or hot shower, punching a pillow, eating something with a strong taste like chilli.
- Deep breathing — count to five as you breathe in slowly – then count to five as you breathe out slowly. You may also try any other relaxation method that works for you.
You may find that some of these strategies work in some situations but not others, or you may find that you need to use a combination of these. It is important to find what works for you. Also, remember that these are not long-term solutions to self-harm but rather, useful short-term alternatives for relieving distress.
Understand your self-harm
The more you understand your self-harm, the better equipped you are to make different choices. You may want to write down what happens before and after you self-harm. This can help you to:
- Recognise triggers – triggers are things that create a desire to self-harm. These might include birthdays, anniversaries, specific thoughts or feelings, physical sensations.
- Recognise urges – what does the urge feel like? The urge might occur right before the act of self-harm.
- Specific thoughts “I need to feel better now”
- Strong emotions like sadness, despair, or anger
- Physical sensations – shallow breath, racing heart
- Disconnection with yourself, such as feeling outside of your own body, numbness.