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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 States
Moderated by

Amelia Winsby, PsyD

Psychologist

I often work with clients who experience a wide range of emotions and difficulties. I am non-judgmental and enjoy working with individuals from all walks of life.

Top Rated Answers
Chiara900
November 13th, 2014 8:31pm
A cold shower, rubber bands, watching a funny movie, phoning friends or talking to someone on 7 Cups
Pandette
November 18th, 2014 5:09am
Well, you can always do things that make you feel better. For instance, working out brings up your levels of serotonin, which inevitably brings you to a better mood. I think it is still important to find out what is causing you to self-harm in the first place and tackling that problem head on. That way, the problem disappears altogether!
kindlove
November 19th, 2014 6:48pm
Writing. Write down exactly how you feel, instead of hurting yourself. Try to describe all your feelings.
Savana13
November 19th, 2014 9:09pm
Squeeze ice cubes, go where you can't, try some grounding exercises, make lists, list how you feel, Google distractions, call a friend.
ElijahxO
November 19th, 2014 10:51pm
I personally like to take bathes and wash my hair, wash my body (ect). It feels nice and refreshing. Another thing is watching netflix. Be around people who make you smile. Drawing on your body. Being on 7cupsoftea and talking to one of our amazing listeners. Take a jog, yoga and meditation are great too.
ThePoet
November 20th, 2014 11:20am
Listen to music (a good jam out and headbanging session can really help). Take a thirty minute hot (but not too hot) Shower and think. Or you could talk about it. There are plenty of safe alternatives to self-harm.
writingsunshine
June 16th, 2015 4:10am
http://sirius-project.org/2011/08/16/distractions-and-alternatives-to-self-harm/ Here's a website which gives specific things to do based on your mood.
Anonymous
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.
Anonymous
July 7th, 2015 8:34pm
If you want to harm youself, please consider calling the following numbers: Call someone - 1-800-273-TALK: This is a 24-hour crisis hotline if you're about to self-harm or are in an emergency situation. 1-800-334-HELP: This number is the Self Injury Foundation's 24-hour national crisis line. 1-800-DON'T-CUT: This number provides information about self-harm. Self harm alternatives: Draw - Draw on your body with a marker. If you find your thoughts continually drifting back to harming yourself, one alternative is to draw on your body with a marker. Draw on the place where you are thinking of harming yourself. Ink won't leave a scar. Sleep it off - when you feel like self harming at night, go to bed early. Remove tools - flush it down the toilet, throw it in the trash or remove it from your reach. Use a pin - this is your absolute LAST resort, a pin doesn't cause as much damage and is scarier to use so it should deter you. Use a rubber band - this can hurt a lot more than cutting but leaves no damage - use this if desperate. Ice - this can hurt a lot more than cutting but leaves no damage - use this if desperate. Butterfly Project - draw a butterfly on the area you self harm - if you self harm, you've killed the butterfly, if you don't you let it live. Label it with the name of someone you care about. Nails - dig your nails into your skin or scratch.
CompassionKat
August 10th, 2015 10:29pm
Some of my personal favorite alternatives are: Throwing ice in a bathtub Scribbling on a piece of paper, cutting it into squares, and putting it back together in a different order Drawing yourself a badge, commemorating how long it has been since you last hurt yourself Singing pop songs as if they were heavy metal Spend time with an animal Stomp in leaf piles, puddles, or just jump up and down outside
elohay
August 17th, 2015 5:29pm
Holding and ice cube in a closed hand. Putting glue on your hands and peeling it off after it's dried. Counting to 100. Eating fruits. Knitting, sewing, crotchet. Cleaning, sports, anything, absolutely anything you can do with your hands.
Splodge29
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.
Emilytea
December 14th, 2015 3:30am
It's different for everyone. Some people find hands in things such as drawing or playing and instrument beneficial. Others may enjoy exercising or maybe singing. It is also beneficial for the person to reach out to their friends, maybe speak to them about how you're feeling or hang out with them to get out of your own head.
Anonymous
January 4th, 2016 11:10am
Working out, using a journal to write out your thought/feelings, talking to someone, hobbies... etc
LilithPA
January 30th, 2016 1:58pm
I usually either call someone, if i can't call someone painting my arm instead of cutting helps. Also, some people instead of cutting use rubber bands - it hurts a little but doesn't make permanent damage.
Anonymous
February 1st, 2016 7:30am
Depends what causes the self-harm, but self-harm is never a way to do it, later you'll regret it, and if you have scars from it, you'll always be reminded. An alternative would be to talk with a psychologist or listener, someone that are trained to help you.
Winter41
March 6th, 2016 2:40pm
Art , create art instead of cutting or harming yourself. Every time you want to pick something dangerous pick a pen , a marker , a brush even if you think you have no talent and just create art. Because all works of art come from intense moments. And you know you can always visit a professional therapist.
ClimbingForever1
August 16th, 2016 11:45am
One idea is to draw on your body in the place you would have cut in a safe and non permanent pen, to distract yourself and your hands.
lovelybeans
August 29th, 2016 5:50pm
Alternatives to self harm are, art, writing, holding an ice cube, talking about it, or just surrounding yourself with people that care so you don't. Whatever you do, don't self harm because it adds to your problems.
Anonymous
October 4th, 2016 7:20pm
I remember I once asked someone this question- well not exactly, they were trying to get me to stop and they told me that drawing lines on your arms or where ever you self harm helps.
Anonymous
October 11th, 2016 1:06pm
I think painting on your arms instead of cutting really helps. It also helps to draw red linies with a marker on your arm.
royallyresented
January 17th, 2017 7:40pm
I use to wear a rubber band or two around my wrists and pull it back whenever I felt urged. I then realized it was only satisfying to me because I was still hurting myself. I now prefer writing stories to distract myself or even doodling and sketching animals and landscapes. It's not much, but I'm easily amused.
KaraFootball
February 20th, 2018 3:10am
Some alternatives to self harm are going for a run, exercising in general, talking to friends, drawing/painting, watching movies or television, playing a game, or doing something you love. Just always remember there is always someone there to talk to.šŸ–¤
Anonymous
February 22nd, 2018 2:57am
Holding ice, red marker, scribbling, fidgets, snapping a rubber band on your wrist, all can be alternatives
Anonymous
February 27th, 2018 9:36pm
Drawing/sketching, painting , Puzzles , speaking to someone , Sports/fitness , reading , Elastic band on the wrist it doesn't cut its just like a pinch
KatieTheBigRockOne
August 31st, 2020 4:44pm
Understanding self harm is the key to overcoming it, firstly understand why you harm :either in a response to pain(harming when youre upset or stressed to deal with hurt) or to numbness(harming when you feel numb in order to feel something.) If you harm in response to pain alternatives will be different than to numbness. Alternatives (pain) : -physical distraction; distance yourself, go for a walk, go outside, visit a friend -mental distraction: do some coping exercises (focus on 5 things and describe them), read a book, read an article etc. -distance :move the weapon away from you so its less tempting, leave the area etc. -physical:dance around, exercise, practice breathing Alternatives(numbness) : -recreate pain :flick a band in the area, use ice on area, dip limb in cold water -sight:use a marker or pen and create marks, paint can work if you like the sight of blood -ignite emotions :watch something really sad or really happy etc. Alternatives(general) : -talk to friends -reach out on 7cups! -talk in a group chat -move around -stay in company(this saved me a few times personally) Hope this helps šŸ˜Š