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What are the best alternatives to self-harm?

23 Answers
Last Updated: 08/03/2021 at 2:47am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
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Jackie Dross, M.S. Community Counseling


I have a passion for working with people from a non-judgmental, strengths based approach to meet their goals for personal growth.

Top Rated Answers
March 7th, 2015 11:50pm
There are quite a lot of alternatives to self harm. One of the things that I know that works from personal experience is to try deep-breathing exercises whenever you begin to feel stressed. There is a lot of information on relaxation techniques on Google.
April 11th, 2015 4:50am
Anything that makes you happy. Or if you physically need something, use an ink pen or marker and then wash it off after. It's safe and not permanent :)
May 23rd, 2015 9:37pm
there are many things to do instead of self harm, such as the butterfly project, 30 day self harm challenge, play the five minute game, mindfulness breathing, red pen, hold ice
March 16th, 2015 4:10pm
Well, when self harming, endorphines are released in brain, which are normally associated with feeling of happiness and similar. Same are released when exercising, for example running and so on. Hopefully this helps you.
March 29th, 2015 3:18am
Writing out your feelings. Talking to someone. Drawing. Tearing paper apart. Squeezing a pillow. Screaming. There are so many ways to relieve frustration. Please find what ever safe alternative works for you.
May 9th, 2015 11:32am
Perhaps you could try putting an elastic band round your wrist and everytime you want to harm yourself, twang it. You can go on walks, spend time with friends. Eat a tone of chocolate and watch a film. Maybe even putting headphones in and listening to really loud music will help. It is a good way to release happy endorpins instead of harming yourself x
May 17th, 2015 11:16am
The best alternates to self-harm can vary greatly from person to person because no two situations are identical. It's important to try various outlets of expressing how you feel, whether its through art, writing, music, or other non-destructive activities to find what works for you.
June 14th, 2015 4:02am
Do something creative. Paint a picture or listen to a song that makes you happy to distract you from those urges.
August 3rd, 2021 2:47am
That can't be generally said because it depends a lot on what the person does it for so the best skills can vary from person to person and there is no skill that always works. You also need to be aware that skills wont make quitting easy, they can only help make it possible because they will never be an exact replacement and it would still be tough to quit and require a lot of willpower as well which may be given because I guess you dont ask for no reason. You just have to be aware that even with skills it will still be a struggle and ask yourself if youre ready and if you feel it is the right moment to take that up. A good start in finding suitable skills would be to ask yourself if you self harm for the pain, the look of it or the action of it (can also be a combination). For example it would not be helpful to tell a person that does it for the pain that they could as well draw on their skin with a red marker. In the next step you could ask yourself what each of these 3 gives to you so you can then look for healthier ways to get a similar even if weaker effect, i.e. if the routine gives you a feeling of control look for routines that are related to self care instead of destruction, if the pain helps you feel alive look into grounding skills which can help you feel more present and aware. This can be a problem if the reason is for example self punishment and the person is not really open for alternate options. In that case it might be better to work on it starting with self love and acceptance. A professional therapist or some Listeners on here that cover the topic might be able to help you find a suitable set of skills for yourself. It is often a combination of skills, also some that you do when you have an urgent urge and others you establish in daily life to even prevent that. Feel free to connect with me or another Listener that covers the topic to go into detail about your individual situation and what alternatives could be worth a try for you.
May 24th, 2015 12:42am
Some things I have tried are writing, reading, going for a walk, cooking, or talking to someone that cares.
July 27th, 2015 6:04pm
I think the best alternative to self harm is when you get your urges get out a diary or pages and write out your thoughts, how you're feeling and what you hope to happen in the future, you should feel a bit better. If that doesn't work for you put a elastic band around your wrist and when you feel the need to self harm snap the band, listen to your favourite music something that usually puts you in a good mood or is uplifting. Go on a walk, ask friends to join if you don't want to be alone. If you don't feel like going out cuddle a pet or a teddy or pillow, read a book, go online and play games. Your urges will eventually be gone :)
August 17th, 2015 1:53pm
I think the best and most successful way to avoid the old habit of self harm is to find a alternative, like replacing a bad habit with one of lesser magnitude, this may be the Butterfly Project, Painting, Writing, anything that helps you get through that pain without inflicting injury to yourself or others.
September 7th, 2015 5:23pm
I sometimes use a hairband to snap on my wrist a few times to get out the initial urge before distracting myself with something else. I've also heard a good method is melting an ice cube on your wrist (or wherever you usually self-harm).
September 15th, 2015 9:40pm
a hobby like reading, writing, talking, taking a drive, cooking, help a friend, sing/dance, punch a punching bag or a pillow, scream into your pillow, ect.
November 2nd, 2015 10:58am
Doodleing on the body part you want to harm yourself on. I sometimes doodle something pretty, and then don't harm myself because I don't want to destroy the pretty doodle. Other times instead of harming myself I doodle wounds on my body, sounds weird but it helps me.
January 25th, 2016 1:23pm
There's actually a lot of other things you could do, like draw on yourself with a pen or marker or write down everything you're feeling you can play video games play with a pet o or write down everything you're feeling you can play video games play with a pet. There's so you can do.
May 23rd, 2016 11:35am
Before you give in to that urge, force yourself to breathe and scream into a pillow. It'll shock you out of that sense of hollowness and bring some release to those overwhelming emotions.
June 13th, 2016 8:20pm
It depends on the person. Distraction and resolution are the best helps for self harm. Distractions that are healthy and enjoyable such as learning to play an instrument or singing.
November 1st, 2016 1:54am
Many psychologists encourage their patients who self-harm to draw where they want to harm themselves at. It has been proven mainly effective and is highly recommended .
July 3rd, 2017 6:32pm
If you MUST feel hurt after trying to distract yourself from self harming thoughts. I heard that drawing on your body with a red marker, running ice over parts of your body (or taking a cold bath), and snapping a rubber band against your skin are all better than severe self harm tactics
April 17th, 2018 4:17pm
Art. Really,any sort of art. Self harm is usually to take out pain and anger or to feel physically hurt than mentally. So,you could use art to give out emotions. Suppose,you cut. Instead of that draw on your body like a tattoo. I hope it helps :)
May 1st, 2018 9:28am
I'm not sure which ones would be the best since it's different for everyone, but here are some alternatives that I found online! I've heard of this app called Calm Harm which may help; other suggestions are listening to music, bathing, writing, moving, hugging and screaming. You could also if you'd like talk to others, change your surroundings if that's an option or if you need to see blood, draw on your hand with a red marker. Hope one of these is suitable for you!
July 24th, 2018 5:00pm
If you feel like hurting yourself, do the butterfly project. Draw a butterfly on your arm with pen or marker. write a loved ones name next to it. Draw one for every family member or friend you love. Whenever you do hurt yourself one of those butterflies "die". Its painful for your loved ones to see those self harm marks. It hurts them too. The butterflies are just a reminder