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What are some alternatives to self-harm?

56 Answers
Last Updated: 08/31/2020 at 4:44pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United Kingdom
Moderated by

Graham Barrone, ICHP, MCBT


If you've found that your quality of life has reduced because of anxiety, fear or some kind of mental hurdle that you just can't get over then lets chat.

Top Rated Answers
September 26th, 2014 7:46pm
Writing positive words on your skin, drinking warm flavorful liquids like tea or coffees, drinking cool flavorful liquids, popping balloons, playing with clay or playdough, listening to good music, dancing around your house, buying plates on ebay/at garage sales and breaking them, silly string fights, popping bubble wrap, tearing up paper, writing
November 14th, 2014 11:50am
If you're feeling angry, do something very physical and violent that's not directed at a living thing. Ex, hit a punching bag, sketch a photo of yourself and mark what you wanna do then rip it, break sticks, throw ice at a brick, etc. If you're feeling sad, or depressed, do something slow and soothing. Ex, taking a hot bath If you're feeling numb, or just want to feel a sensation from self harm, do something that creates a physical sensation that doesn't harm you! Ex, bite into a hot pepper, slap your wrist with a rubber band, etc. I'd also recommend taking a look at the self help guide on self harm that 7 cups provides, it might help!
April 12th, 2015 5:10pm
Doing something else with your hands, like playing with silly putty or a tangle...there are lots of great options. Exercise will give you that adrenaline rush you are looking for that is released with pain. Other ways to get that adrenaline rush are horror movies, amusement parks, etc.
November 3rd, 2014 1:04am
The best way to avoid self-harm is to replace it with a healthy habit. These can include arts and crafts, physical activity, or spending time with friends.
March 1st, 2016 10:08pm
You could draw on your arms, legs, stomach or any other place that you would self harm. Maybe draw an animal, a good one can be a butterfly. Then when you think about self harming, you could look at that picture, if you harm yourself, you are harming the thing portrayed in the image, if you purposely wash off the image you are also harming it. If the image washes off naturally for example in showers or baths, you have succeeded. Continue using this method until you no longer have the desire to harm yourself.
November 3rd, 2014 5:58am
You can draw on yourself with a red pen to simulate blood, snap rubber bands, rub an ice cube where you want to harm, rip up paper, punch a punching bag, watch a really good movie, talk to someone you love, eat an ice cream sundae, the possibilities are endless.
September 18th, 2014 2:33am
listening to music will help you trough a lot of things you just have to find the right music for your self
October 25th, 2014 1:46pm
There are lots of alternatives that you can try. The first step is to figure out what part of self harm helps you, then you can find alternatives for that. For example, if seeing blood helps you, you can try warming up some red food colouring and using that on your skin. If it is the pain then you can replace that with sensation, such as biting into a lemon or holding an ice cube. If it is a distraction then there a lots of things you can try instead, such as expressing your feelings creatively. The best known alternative is snapping a rubber band, I'd say to use this as a last resort only to ween yourself away from breaking skin, because you are still using pain to deal with your problems and it can leave bruises.
October 31st, 2014 12:12am
Drawing on your skin, screaming in a pillow, crying, singing, writing, talking ... Keep your mind busy. Try, you'll be surprised.
November 2nd, 2014 6:20pm
I used to self-harm to feel like I was in control of my life and as a way to express all the emotions I was feeling. The best alternative is to go to a therapist in order to express everything you are feeling in a different way. I also found that putting my energy into my hobbies and exercising made me feel better.
November 3rd, 2014 4:20pm
When I engaged in self-harm, it was an effort to change the way I felt. And of course there are much healthier ways to do this! I could do some challenging exercises, escape into the world of a great book or show, talk to another person, or get out of my own head by helping someone else.
November 18th, 2014 1:26am
Journaling, Exercise, reading, any activities that make you feel happy about yourself. Everyone is different. Find as many alternatives as you can.
June 5th, 2015 10:35am
Get an ice cube and run it over the place you're wanting to cut. It will give you the feeling of coolness and pain without really hurting you. You can also get a soft tip pen and draw on the place you want to cut. Scribble on it until the feeling subsides.
June 17th, 2015 1:45am
Snapping a rubber band around your list. Drawing a butterfly and if you self harm before the butterfly is washed away it dies.
October 1st, 2015 9:09pm
The one I love, which is often advised by psychiatrists, is called the Butterfly Project. Originally, this meant that if you ever wanted to harm yourself then instead you just drew a butterfly in the spot you wanted to hurt (NOT in a biro or similar pen - they can hurt!) But its grown and expanded and now the advice is to draw on yourself - draw anything you want - wherever you want to harm. This can be as big as you want, so if you want to doodle over your entire stomach then do it! A lot of people like to leave all the ink on as a reminder not to do it, but if you want to hide it then you can just wash it off later.
January 4th, 2016 4:52pm
A good place to start is journalism, writing down how you feel and what happened. If you feel like you cant control the urge, grab a marker to replace the object of harm. A hard workout can help, you still might feel pain, but this time it will be for the best.
August 31st, 2016 6:09pm
Holding an ice cube on your skin, wearing an elastic band around your wrist and ping it at your wrist, taking either a hot shower or a cold bath, chewing on a piece of chilli/ginger root. That's all I could think of for now but I hope it's of some help!
October 5th, 2014 9:00pm
Go on a walk, Read a book, Rearange your room. going on walks is peaceful reading is calming thanks.
October 6th, 2014 9:20am
i follow a lot of depressed accounts on social media because sometimes, looking at the pictures or posts i can somehow relate and it calms me down and most of the accounts are in recovery so they post sad pictures but then they say how much better they feel not cutting and are really supportive.
October 23rd, 2014 8:38pm
Taking a walk, drawing, painting, poetry, finding the root of the feelings that make you want to self harm, playing video games
October 27th, 2014 11:38am
Some alternatives are holding a bag of crushed ice because it is actually quite uncomfortable like most self-harming methods. You can also meditate, do yoga, do things that make you happy, but tell someone
October 27th, 2014 1:11pm
tearing paper or scribbling it allows you to vent maybe painting as well or writing in a journal yeah
October 27th, 2014 3:38pm
The best thing to do is keep yourself occupied and lean on friends and family. You can draw or exercise? I suggest going in a Skype call with your friends so you don't feel tempted or alone.
October 29th, 2014 9:00pm
you can try a number of different things if you self harm because the pain makes you feel better then you can hold ice in your hand till it goes numb, if seeing the blood helps you then try scribbling where you would usually harm in red marker. You could also try writing down your thoughts and feelings
October 31st, 2014 1:41pm
Keeping a happy box with a journal, crayons, crafts, or snuggling a pet, and talking with a friend .
November 2nd, 2014 5:47pm
If you're in a moment when the urges feel unbearable, you can squeeze ice in your hand really hard, or do some sort of strenuous exercise i.e. running. These let out the energy physically. When the urge isn't as intense, try doing something positive, talking to a friend, write out exactly how you're feeling and the reasons why - putting it directly into words can make it feel more manageable.
November 2nd, 2014 9:30pm
Some alternatives I found to be helpful are: listening to music that makes you feel good (so nothing that triggers bad memories in you), working out, going for a walk, taking a hot shower, drawing (if you like doing that, of course) and writing (poems, stories, whatever you like.) Whatever you do, keep in mind that it should not be something harmful to you and that it should be distracting and give you a positive feeling.
November 6th, 2014 2:51am
Oh my gosh there's a never-ending list! I won't tell what exactly to do but I will tell you to do something you love. Run, draw, listen to music, go see a movie, play your favorite video game, dance, ect. Whatever makes you happy, that's what you need to do. By doing this, you will essentially be keeping your mind off whatever it is that is making you want to cut.
November 8th, 2014 6:29pm
Some common alternatives are exercising, art, writing, or yoga/relaxing techniques. The best solution I have found is holding an icecube in your hand whenever you feel the need to self-harm. By the time the ice melts, the urge probably has went away.
November 9th, 2014 6:29pm
I like to draw. Drawing expresses your feelings and does not have to be perfect. Sometimes I'll do something as simple as drawing an arm with red marks across it. I also like to write because I find it easier to express my feelings through written word than saying them out loud. I like to listen to music, because it feels like there is someone out there feeling the same way I do. And sometimes I like to watch a cathartic movie.