10 Self Harm or Self Injury Coping Strategies

Self harm also known as self injury can be very distressing for all. The person harming themselves often feels overwhelmed and compelled to keep self harming. The people around them are distressed by what they see and feel helpless to help them to stop!

Self harm occurs when a person’s emotions simply become too big to handle or too overwhelming to contain. A bit like a volcano about to explode if it doesn’t get a release. So why harm or injur yourself? The pain actually provides a rush of endorphins which in turn provides a release to the overwhelming emotions at that time.

Self harm should not be seen as ‘attention seeking’.  This is a genuine coping strategy for someone struggling to manage their emotions. Often people feel shame about this particular coping strategy but it is possible for them to get help and to help themselves.

A good starting point is to find a safer way to release those endorphins without the need for actual self harm or self injury.

10 alternatives to self harm:-

  1. Hold ice cubes tightly in your hands for as long as you can. The cold causes pain in your hands so has a similar effect to physically cutting.
  2. Ping an elastic band on your wrist – again this causes pain and an endorphine rush but no scarring.
  3. Write in a journal.
  4. Go for a walk/run.
  5. Listen to music.
  6. Get a washable red felt-tip pen and actually draw the red lines where you want to harm or injur yourself.
  7. Pick up a pillow and beat it onto your bed to release that anger and frustration.
  8. Scream or shout into your pillow – get it all out!
  9. Distract yourself with some baking or chores.
  10. Write in your journal the reasons why you are so upset – you can even draw a picture of the person that has upset you.

There is lots of information on self harm or self injury online at places such as MIND. Try to learn as much as you can about it so you can understand yourself better. Start to make a list of why you want to stop self harming and consider Counselling or therapy to help you with this.