How do i deal with urges to relapse?
Last Updated: 10/29/2018 at 8:07pm
Mark Harrison, MSW, LICSW, PIP
Clinical Social Work/Therapist
I invite you into therapy with an open mind, warm positive regard, and no judgement.
Top Rated Answers
*Trigger Warning! I've given a small description of why each method of dealing with an urge works - some people may find these triggering.* There are lots of different methods people use for dealing with self harming urges and a lot of it is about finding the right coping strategy for you. Some people find using the '15 Minute Rule' helps. When you feel the urge to self harm you tell yourself, 'I will not self harm for 15 minutes'. If the urge doesn't pass in that time you try another 15 minutes and so on. Other strategies try to replace self harm with alternative sensations. These include having a cold shower, sucking strong mints, biting into ginger or clutching ice cubes. Visual strategies, such as scribbling on yourself or a piece of paper in red marker mimic the sight of self harm. Another alternative is to try to relax yourself by having a warm bath, using essential oils or scented candles for example. Self harm releases endorphins (the body's happy hormone), so activities such as jogging or skateboarding can help as exercise also releases endorphins.
Give yourself reasons that you cant let it happen. However relapse is very very normal! You deserve more! Have things you need to avoid relapse for, trips away, your future, things planned out that you need to be well and healthy for!
The best way to deal with these urges is to distract yourself and push those thoughts completely out of your head. You can do this in many ways- taking up a hobby, doing a puzzle or wordsearch, calling up a friend or going on random websites. In fact, here's a list of random websites and ideas I've found that help deal with such urges to relapse https://www.7cups.com/forum/SelfHarmCommunity_65/SelfHarm_45/PinksAmazinglyAwesomeListofLinksandDistractions_21137/ . I hope it helps!!
I am a very creative person, so whenever I get urges, I draw or paint furiously to express my anger or sadness. Art is an escape for me and has definitely helped me in the past.
You could do something productive like clean or go for a walk. You could also draw or write how your feeling at the moment.
i would remember how i used to be and how proud i was to change myself to the way i am now. and i would think how hard i worked to get here.
Tell someone who you trust who will help you feel more relaxed and less likely to relapse. Also make sure that is somebody who you know will help.
Stay strong. Remember that this will pass. If you can keep behavior up it will become routine and things will get easier.
Relapse urges are an absolutely normal part of recovery, but they can be incredibly frustrating and exhausting. It's hard feeling like your brain is constantly begging you to return to the behavior, but it makes sense. While you're fighting for recovery, you're in an even higher state of stress than normal. My best advice for combating the urges is to focus less on the urges themselves, and more on creating a life worth living that doesn't require the behavior to feel good. Connect with people, say "yes", invest in your hobbies, schedule self-care, and create a mantra or two that you can recite when the urges hit. Try mindfulness and meditation. Get a memory foam pillow. Treat yourself to a massage. Take a walk and focus only on the sounds around you. There was a reason you turned to your behavior in the first place, and beating the urges to relapse means eliminating or coping with that reason. Best of luck, and keep fighting!
Try to have something handy that you can focus on instead of your urges. Puzzles or other things that can take your attention away and hold it. If you like video games or exercise they are good too. This could be a good opportunity to experiment with hobbies or extracurriculars. Draw or write. Challenge yourself to something and hold yourself to its completion. Please make sure that your distractions are healthy! Your safety is all of our first priority. Also, remember you're not alone in this. If you feel an urge to relapse you can always come on 7 Cups and talk to a listener.
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