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I've been clean from self harm for 4 years, but i still struggle every day. Are there ways to keep my mind off it?

23 Answers
Last Updated: 11/15/2021 at 1:59pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
Moderated by

Paola Giordani, Psychoanalyst

Licensed Psychoanalyst

I have helped and am helping people cope with loss, divorce, anguish and parenting. Depression is also a major issue that comes up.

Top Rated Answers
April 19th, 2016 1:42am
Being a former self harmer myself... I did it for about 5-6 years straight, & My fiance was the one who got me to stop and believe me there are days where I want that feeling of release again and I think about doing it again just one more time...But then I think about why I quit in the first place, & How I couldn't just do it once without getting a taste to do it everyday like I used too.. Just remember why you quit in the first place & Remember how much strength it took to finally quit. Self Harming is like a drug, People who haven't gone through this won't understand because they don't see self harming as something addictive but it is... & That one time you try it again, You'll be hooked once again. So just remember why you quit & The person you are today because you quit.
July 27th, 2015 12:07pm
You could - take a walk -listen to music - draw/paint something -dance -journal -call a friend -meet up with friends Or just do whatever makes you happy and distracts you from the urge.
April 9th, 2015 2:25am
My only advice every time I find someone who struggles with SH (like me) is that ART IS THE WEAPON. Art is the only weapon you need to fight yourself and win against this poisoned thoughts. Just make things, create something: Music, drawings, writings... whatever you do like to do! Art is the best way for express yourself while coping with your problems.
August 4th, 2015 4:04am
Staying clean from self-harm is a very, very hard thing to do. So to last that long is an incredible acheivement and you should definately be proud of that. But, of course, the struggle is still there. The best ways to keep your mind off it is to fill up your time each day with things you enjoy. The more you do, the less you'll think about it.
November 30th, 2015 3:21pm
It's great that you've been clean for such a long time, but I can understand that it's hard sometimes. Mostly, it helps to keep busy and keep your life full, so that you can try to minimise the amount of time you are alone with your own thoughts. It helps to find another outlet too, like writing or drawing. A particularly popular method is to draw on one's skin whenever you feel the urge to self harm. It doesn't work for everyone, but it's a good stepping stone. Good luck!
November 15th, 2021 1:59pm
I always say one day at a time. I find that support groups can be extremely helpful. Sometimes keeping it off your mind is less important than remembering why you decided to get clean in the first place. Keeping busy and active can also be very helpful. Building a routine that you enjoy allows structure in one's day. Talking about the things you are struggling with with someone else who has struggles with self harm can be very comforting, as well. Sharing your experience, strength, and hope with someone that may have less clean time than you can empower you and drive you to continue your journey of recovery.
March 3rd, 2015 12:32am
Not exactly a way to keep your mind /off/ of it, but doing something which doesn't cause lasting harm helped me a lot - like eating a drop of hot sauce, or holding an ice cube. Congrats on the landmark & best of luck with your life :)
March 3rd, 2015 4:39pm
Take every day as it comes and remember how far you've come. Find activities you love to do and whenever you feel that way throw yourself into that activity and enjoy every second- it could be reading, gaming listening to music, absolutely anything. Take the focus away from whatever it is that is making you feel that way and just push through it. You've come this far, so you can go further.
May 28th, 2015 9:42pm
You can do things that you like, such as playing music or being with people you like, and make you happy.
June 7th, 2015 6:38pm
Remember that you've gotten this far! It can be helpful to focus on the good things. Practice self-care. What makes you feel better? What makes you feel good? Try to set aside time every day to do one thing that makes you feel better. If you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe.
July 7th, 2015 4:17pm
Sometimes a distraction such as involving yourself in a task is very helpful when you experience overwhelming emotions or emotional attacks. Maybe putting a few oranges in the freezer for such a moment might help you. You can take it out when needed and concentrate on the coldness in your fingers, the smell of the orange as you peel it, being slow and careful. As it thaws, eat a piece and focus on the chill, the texture, the taste. By the time you have finished peeling and eating the orange, focusing wholly on each task, you are likely to find that you have calmed down and some urges are not as strong as they were before. Keep working hard!
November 23rd, 2015 8:43pm
Please understand that your body is made up of billions of cells, functioning just for you! Don't ever harm such innocent cells for personal issues. Try watching some comedy show or movie which you like, which may keep you away from such thoughts.
December 1st, 2015 8:19pm
doing things with your hands - keep them busy. try writing down your feelings when you think you're about to do something, or look at social media on your phone or something
February 2nd, 2016 3:59pm
I've been in the same position as you have and I understand that it is very hard. One thing that I personally do is find something I enjoy doing and use it to distract me. Most of my solutions that I've found involve reading, playing games, talking to your friends, listening to music, (if you play an instrument then playing music), watching Youtube videos, writing or drawing are all good ways to let out the stress.
April 12th, 2016 4:48pm
I tend to keep my mind from self harm by writing down my thoughts in a notebook or on sticky notes. It really helps and it doesn't result in pain. It really just lets you get your feelings out. If you want to completely get your mind off of it, Maybe you could start running or listen to music or sounds that seem to make you forget everything for a while.
May 9th, 2016 4:12am
Think, "Does my body really deserve this?" Being clean for such a long time is an acheivement. Nice!
October 11th, 2016 12:32pm
First of all congratulations, that's an amazing achievement. Sucking ice blocks, drawing, reading, taking a shower and just feel the water run over you and feel fresh and clean. Look up pictures of cute puppies and just let it all out. Write all your feelings down and then burn them, or keep them. Talk to a close friend to keep you're mind off it, you are so strong. Keep going.
November 29th, 2016 9:53am
I don't know about how to keep your mind of it, but there are things you can do as alterntatives to self-harm depending on what your method was, that might give you some relief. If it was because you needed to feel the pain things like waxing, holding ice cubs, or eating chilli can provide a similar pain without causing any damage. If on the other hand your self-harm was more focused on seeing the manifestation of your pain, such as blood, an alternative could be to draw on yourself with bright red marker. I don't know if this answer helped you, but I hope you feel proud of yourself for staying clean for 4 years, that takes a lot of inner strength.
December 12th, 2016 8:14am
You're amazing! Keep looking for new healthy distractions, a variety of different activities, mix up your healthy distractions so your brain doesn't get too comfortable with them. You are doing a wonderful job staying clean for four years and still wanting to go on and be better and better. Some other members might benefit from hearing what you have tried so far. Good luck! Here's a list of healthy distractions you can reference too:
May 15th, 2018 8:15am
you could talk to friends, or distract yourself by reading a book, or watching some tv or doing homework, anything works really, just keep yourself busy
May 29th, 2018 8:52pm
When you feel like u are taking a step backwarda focus on the reason why u stopped in the first place . It may also help to talk to someone close and explain how you are feeling ao u are not alone and have someone to talk to when things get tough
May 26th, 2020 10:15am
I've found that writing really helps. While some people I've talked to harm themselves bcos they think they deserve the pain and go in with that thought, I had found that I implicitly thought I deserved the pain. My self harm was more compulsive. I wouldnt really remember even doing it, it would just be a sudden burst of something and before I knew it, it had happened. As I wasnt able to rationalize in the moment, at first I didnt know how to stop it. Writing proved to be really cathartic. I slowly was able to put down why I felt that way and it was like I had opened a door to my emotions. It took some time, yes, but it was the easiest way to do so without being allowed the access of a professional. Understanding why you do something can help you love backwards until you find the root of the problem. While things seem completely senseless in the moment, I've found that when it comes to your mind, you can always find the reason for a thought or an action provided you're willing to hear the truth.
December 15th, 2020 4:35pm
First off, I am so so so so proud of you! That is an amazing accomplishment!!! It takes a huge amount of strength to get where you are right now. That being said, as you're aware, it can be an uphill battle some days, even long after you've detatched yourself from that behaviour. Distractions work wonders to keep you away from your urges. As silly as it might sound, put some music on and clean something! It can be anything, from organizing a drawer, to brushing your teeth. This little positive thing will go a long way. I wish you luck on your mental health journey.