Self Help Tips

Self-Harm Self-Help Tips

I am not a therapist or licensed professional, and the information below is not a treatment, merely information gathered from several online sources to provide some help. If you or someone you love is struggling with self-harm, talk with a school counselor, licensed therapist, or other professional to seek treatment and help.

Self-Harm Self-Help Tips

Self-harm is an addiction. A terrible, painful addiction that hurts you and the people that care about you, whether or not your marks are hidden. Whether you burn, cut, scratch, etc., your feelings are valid and you do NOT deserve the pain. Here are alternatives for when you're feeling different ways.
Feeling Angry/Frustrated/Restless
Try something violent or aggressive that ISN'T directed at ANY human being.
  • slash old cans, cardboard, old clothes, etc
  • create a painting of how you feel by slapping down color with reckless abandon
  • hit a wall with a pillow (pillow-fight style)
  • sketch yourself- harm the image where you want to self harm instead of your real body
  • throw ice against brick wall until it shatters
  • climb a tree as fast as you can, racing self and getting scratched up if necessary
  • rant and vent out loud
  • vigorous exercise- especially good if you're feeling the urge to punish yourself
  • go on aggressive cleaning streak
Feeling Sad/Soft/Melancholy/Depressed/Unhappy/Anxious

 Distract yourself from sadness in order to become happy, but allow yourself to feel and go through the cycle of melancholy in order to get it out of your system and not go numb. Do slow and soothing things to comfort yourself and brighten your day.

  • take a hot bath (especially with bubbles or essential oils)
  • curl up with a warm blanket
  • watch TV or read a book (preferably happy)
  • make tea/hot chocolate
  • light candles or incense
  • listen to some sad music to let it out, then listen to uplifting music to get yourself back up
Feeling Numb/Unreal/Dissociated or Craving Pain

Do something that creates a sharp physical sensation without promoting the self harm you're trying to get away from, which will only aid to the desire to cut, etc.

  • bite into hot pepper or chew ginger root
  • squeeze ice really hard (it hurts and leaves a red mark)
  • snap a rubber band against your wrist
  • slap a tabletop really hard (but don't go out of control and start slamming your body against things, that makes everything worse)
  • take a freezing cold or scalding hot bath/shower (uncomfortable but effective)
  • watch chest move with each breath
  • watch emotion-invoking film
  • write about emotion-invoking scenarios
  • try to do positive real-world things instead of staying on device (which can increase dissociation or feeling of unreality)
  • roughly massage area you want to injure, or apply tiger balm (massage balm that burns when it relaxes muscles)
Wanting to Focus

Do a task that is exacting and requires focus and concentration.

  • play certain computer games
  • carefully paint nails
  • color within the lines in a coloring book, etc.
  • focus on one object and describe it with all five senses
  • pick easy tasks that you can do to feel like you've accomplished something and get your brain started again (ex: fold clothes, do dishes)
  • go for a brisk walk to restart your brain, focus on surroundings instead of thoughts
  • clap loudly and get your body moving, it also restarts your brain
  • pick a subject and research it
Wanting to See Blood/Scars/Pick Scabs/Self-Harm
  • draw on self in red
  • go to town with sharpies
  • do special effects gore makeup
  • convince yourself of that having more scars really won't make you feel any better
  • try to un-romanticize the thoughts of blood/scars/harm in your head, they aren't beautiful. They're ugly, hurtful, and permanent- and they will negatively affect your life
  • write down the reactions of the people who love you when they find out you've hurt yourself again (usually enough to get you to think twice)
  • remind yourself that it's an impulse, and fill your thoughts and time with other activities until the urge passes
  • think about your ideal future and how you can make it happen
  • discuss dreams and plans for the bright, healthy future with a friend or loved one
  • do the Butterfly Project- draw butterflies where you self harm and write the names of people who care about you on each butterfly (or have that person sign your butterfly), if you cut there, it kills the butterfly- good way to remember who you'll hurt
  • make a bracelet out of duct tape and put a line on it for every day you go without self harming, when it's full of lines make a new one, slowly create a chain of these to remind you of your progress (or do something else to remind you of how far you've come and what you have the strength to do)
  • give yourself a henna or fake tattoo, etc
Feeling Guilty/Lonely
  • give someone a hug while smiling
  • do a nice thing for someone else
  • congratulate yourself for every minute you go without self harming
  • light a candle and watch the flame
  • play with a pet
  • call a loved one
  • watch the sky
  • write words in sand/leaves/snow so they are washed/blown/or melted away
  • write a list of the good things you've done
  • write a list of doable nice things you can do for others and check them off as you complete them (can be little things like hugs and thank you notes etc)
  • eat chocolate