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What can I do instead of self harm?

36 Answers
Last Updated: 02/28/2022 at 5:26pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Brenda King, PsyD


I treat life changes, women’s issues, and issues of aging using evidence-based treatments with healthy doses of warmth, empathy and humor to enhance healing and growth.

Top Rated Answers
December 23rd, 2014 6:27am
. Exercise. 2. Put on fake tattoos. 3. Draw on yourself with washable red marker-then take a shower and wash away your pain. 4. Scribble on sheets of paper. 5. Write poetry. 6. Cuddle with a stuffed toy. 7. Be with other people. 8. Watch a favorite TV show. 9. Post on web boards or try answering other people's posts. 10, Think about how "I DON'T WANT SCARS FOR SUMMER!!" 11. Paint your nails a new color. 12. Go out to see a movie. 13. Eating something you can't resist. 14. Do your school work. 15. Write a letter to someone but never send it. 16. Go into chat rooms to talk. 17. Call a friend and ask them to come hang out. 18. Play a musical instrument. 19. Sing. 20. Look up at the sky, and find the moon. Study it. 21. Make your own list of things to do instead of S.I. 22. Buy a punching bag (with gloves. Name it. Then, have a visit with Bob when you need to. 23. Snap a rubber band (hair band) on your wrist. 24. Cover yourself with band-aids where you want to cut. 25. Go to the zoo and rename the animals. 26. Let yourself cry, even if it is hard. 27. Sleep, only if you are tired. 28. Do the exact opposite of what you really want to do. 29. Play with a pet. 30. Smile to at least 5 people. 31. Re-organize and lable your linen closet. 32. Go out and perform one act of kindness. 33. Have a pillow fight with a wall. 34. Knit a scarf. 35. Read a good book. 36. Dress up very glamorous, with makeup to match. 37. Color your hair. 38. Listen to music (nontriggering) 39. Watch a candle burn, but no playing with flames or hot wax. Blow it out when you leave the room. 40. Find someone else you can help. Do volunteer work. 41. Meditate. Track your breathing. 42. Call up an old friend and catch up. 43. Work on a website or start a new one. 44. Have a vivid fantasy love affair with a celebrity. 45. Go somewhere very public. 46. Bake cookies or another favorite food you like. 47. Alphabetize your CD's. 48. Chew gum. 49. Buy a henna tattoo kit. 50. Paint or draw. 51. Rip paper into really small pieces. 52. Give someone a Hug. 53. Write a letters or emails. 54. Talk to yourself, and put it on tape. 55. Hug a pillow. 56. Hyper-focus on something like a rock. 57. Fingerpaint. 58. Scream as loud as you want. 59. Dance. 60. Make hot chocolate. 61. Pop bubble wrap. 62. Play with play dough. 63. Count to 100. 64. Build a pillow fort. 65. Blow up a balloon and pop it. 66. Hug yourself. 67. Write yourself an "I love myself because" letter and keep it. Read it when you feel down. 68. Read things in a different language. 69. Go for a nice long drive, walk, or jog. 70. Complete something you have been putting off. 71. Drink a cup of herbal tea. 72. Fold paper and invent a new origomi shape. 73. Write your memoirs. 74. Build something. 75. Take up archery. 76. Go rock climbing. 77. Take up a new hobby you always dreamed of. 78. Organize bills, receipts, etc. 79. Cook a meal. 80. Go out for ice cream. 81. Buy a stuffed animal. 82. Look at pretty things-like flowers or art work. 83. Create something. 84. Pray or read the Bible. 85. Throw socks against the wall. 86. Make a list of blessings in your life. 87. Go to a friend's house and open up. 88. Take up fencing. 89. Watch an old comedy movie. 90. Call your therapist or make an appointment with one. 91. Talk to someone close to you that you trust. 92. Throw a temper tantrum. 93. Ride a bicycle. 94. Polish silver or jewelry. 95, Start a garden or water your house plants. 96. Re-arrange a room. 97. Feed the ducks, birds, or squirrels. 98. Draw on the walls-or paint with watercolors if you don't want permanence. 99. Play with face paint. 100. Play jacks or pick up sticks. 101. Color with crayons. 102. Memorize a song and sing it. Then, reflect on it's message. 103. Put on boots and stomp. 104. Stretch. 105. Find a butterfly and catch it. 106. Watch fish. 107. Come up with baby names even if you aren't expecting. 108. Go to a public place and people watch. 109. Make a CD of your favorite songs. 110. Name all of your stuffed animals. 111. Go shopping. 112. Get into your PJ's and just veg. 113. Buy cheap teddy bears and take your anger out on them 114. Throw everything on the ground except glass. 115. Go to a loud concert (Make sure it doen't trigger you) 116. Think about your ideal life. What do you have to do to get there? 117. Plan your someday wedding day or upcoming prom. 118. Hunt for stuff on Ebay. 119. Alphabetize your books and magazines. 120. Hunt for your perfect home in the paper or online. 121. Take up Tai Chi. 122. Try to make as many words as possible out of your full name. 123. Count ceiling tiles or lights. 124. Go to the grocery store and buy yourself some flowers. 125. Search for ridiculous things on the web. 126. Google youself. 127. Color co-oridinate your wardrobe. 128. Do a home tan on yourself. 129. Take a hot bath and "be" in the moment. 130. Sort all you photographs. 131. Give yourself a pedicure. 132. Color or scribble over pretty women in magazines. 133. Plan a dinner party with menus and guest list, then carry it out. 134. Go through all your old stuff, and donate to Good Will. 135. Take a walk in the woods and breathe the fresh air. 136. Start a mood journal and write in it every day. Do patterns surface? Track your triggers. 137. Buy yourself some toys and play like you are 5 years old again! 138. Start to collect some thing. 139. Take up kick-boxing. 140. Read a magazine or newspaper. 141. Sew something. 142. Buy a stuffed animal. 143. Take your own dog, or a friend's dog for a walk. 144. Call 1-800-DONT CUT 145. Call 1-800-THERAPIST 146. Read through this list again.
April 30th, 2015 8:45pm
I love art, so I would take some Crayola markers and color on my arm or leg (wherever I wanted to self-harm). I ended up spending hours creating these beautiful designs, and by the time I was done with it, I didn't feel the need to self-harm anymore. Plus, it was like the gift that kept on giving, because the design would stay on for awhile, and I wouldn't want to mess up that beautiful design with a cut. It really helped me through many rough times.
- Expert in Self-Harm
December 23rd, 2014 5:44am
DISTRACTIONS are a great places to start: walk, run, cook, draw, watch netflix, read, rip up recycling, draw on yourself, hold ice cubes, ... GROUNDING TECHNIQUES are good to calm down: count to 100, describe your environment, repeat a safety phrase like "i am in the present, i am safe"... EXPRESSING YOURSELF is also helpful: journal, draw, paint, sing, write poetry, talk to a friend, talk on 7Cups, call a hotline.... BREATHING: just notice your breathing and don't change it, count your breaths, practice deep breathing, MINDFULNESS and VISUALIZATION are also great to learn, you can also WAIT and play the 15 minute game where you agree with yourself to not harm int he next 15 minutes and at the 15 minute mark to reevaluate whether you will not harm, will harm or will wait 15 more minutes. You can also practice SELF SOOTHING. There are many many options. It just takes time, experimentation, and practice to begin to find and be able to use healthy coping skills that work for you.
December 23rd, 2014 8:17am
I've ben told that drawing on yourself whenever you feel the need to self harm is a good ay to avoid it. Try it!
December 23rd, 2014 12:00pm
I always found holding ice cubes to my skin helped to relieve my urge to self harm. Other things that have helped me include scribbling on myself in red pen, painting my nails or having a relaxing bath.
December 24th, 2014 8:37pm
Self-harm is a form of displacing the pain inside you to the physical pain. That's why you can feel released / relax after you harm your self. One way you can do instead is by talking to someone every time you have the urge to self-harm. 7 Cups of Tea is a good place to find that someone, and the listeners here are available 24/7.
December 29th, 2014 11:38pm
Instead of self harming you can try distracting yourself with things such as listening to music, watching movies, putting ice where you want to cut, writing someone you care abouts name on where you would like to cut or painting your nails if you're female
January 20th, 2020 4:11pm
Take a rubber band and put it on your wrist like a bracelet, then flick it, it will release feel good chemicals in your brain and it will minimize the need for self harm. It would also be a good idea to hide all those things that you could use to harm yourself. You can also start a new hobby like painting or singing. Dancing also helps relieve stress and anger. Take a class on a hobby so you can stick up with that hobby. Remind yourself every day that you are worthy and it is not your fault! You don’t deserve to harm yourself! Going to therapy also helps. Sometimes you have to do a variety of things to help yourself get out of a bad habit.
December 23rd, 2014 6:19am
What I did when I self harmed to keep myself from doing it was doing all the things that make me happy. Listen to my favorite song, eat my favorite foods. Go somewhere that is peaceful to you. Distractions are the things that will help you to stop completely. I hope that this helps. :)
December 23rd, 2014 6:51am
Melt an icecube in between your hands. It is painful, but has no lasting scars, effects, or mess. You can easily help yourself out of the sadness of self harm.
December 23rd, 2014 10:44am
You can try substituting cutting or burning yourself with another action, such as tapping your fingers against your skin when you feel the urge to hurt yourself, holding ice to your skin, or massaging the part of your skin that you feel the urge to harm. Better yet, you can look for an artistic or athletic outlet to release any pent-up feelings.
December 23rd, 2014 11:12am
Instead of self harming you could try writing everything that has upset you or hurt you in a piece of paper and then burn it :)
January 3rd, 2015 12:16am
I have learned that writing down whats going on in my life and then ripping it apart really helps me sometimes when I feel like I might do something I would regret, or when I feel overwhelmed.
April 2nd, 2015 7:04pm
You can do so, so many other things. My friend once told me to put 'everything' in a corner, and then read a book. Listening to music and maybe drinking some water also helps. And to let out your emotions, choose the closest friend you have and talk about them (your emotions). Maybe have a friend-bonding session, in which you both talk about emotions.
April 4th, 2015 8:10am
Watching videos on youtube or listening to music helps me a lot, some other things that could help other people is art. Draw something even if it isn't "good" it could be a simple line if that's what helps you. You could also fight the urge by writing stories, or poetry.
May 8th, 2015 1:26pm
Try to concentrate in other stuff, try to think about the good stuff of the day and not the bad ones that can lead you to hurt yourself, write your feeling you can torn that paper apat later, try to take out that negative energy in other ways.
May 27th, 2015 11:26pm
You could find things to distract yourself. Something that occupies your hands and mind. You could read, walk, watch tv. You could also use rubber bands and snap them against your wrist. It has the same affect but without the aftermath.
June 22nd, 2015 3:12pm
Good alternatives are exercise (going for a run for example), taking a shower (cold or hot), snapping rubber bands on your wrist, doing breathing exercises, drawing,... whatever works for you the best.
July 7th, 2015 12:27am
You could be invest your time in a hobby, or any activity that brings you happiness and joy. That's the first step to overcome self harming.
September 22nd, 2015 1:59pm
Some good alternatives could be writing, reading, running, yoga, drawing, calming music, etc... A rubber band, red pin, ice cube and so on could also serve as alternatives. If you self harm out of anger then exercise could help. here is a link that may help, it gives many other distraction techniques and ways to cope :) Also speaking to someone about how you feel can most always help
November 16th, 2015 10:03am
There are many things that you can try, holding ice against your skin because it gives the same sensation, listening to music, talk to someone instead of hurting yourself, make your hands and mind busy by for example drawing?
December 29th, 2015 8:20pm
You could maybe do something you enjoy like if you're into creative things, draw, paint, read and write. If you're into sport you could maybe play ball games like throwing and catching a ball etc. If you like cooking or baking maybe go cook or bake something. I hope this helps 😊 Good Luck !
January 26th, 2016 3:36am
Flicking a rubber band or hair tie on your wrist, throwing ice cubes into the shower, rubbing ice on your skin, punothing your bed or pillow, going outside and screaming, talking to a pet, talking to parents friends etc.
February 22nd, 2016 4:57am
There are many things you can do instead of self harm. If you're an artist, you can draw a picture on your arm or leg. If you're a writer, when you're starting to feel sad you can pick up your medium and write how you feel. If you're a musician, play your instrument or sing. Go for a run or a walk, something to keep your mind off of self harm.
June 21st, 2016 3:47am
Instead of self harm, you can talk to friends about your strong emotion, hit your arm with an elastic or even draw where you'd like to harm yourself. Another method can be to use ice on the spot you wish to harm. This are effective methods of not harming yourself physically and even mentally.
October 3rd, 2016 2:21am
First of all, you should consult a therapist if you are self harming. If you can't get professional help you should find help in your close environment or even here at 7cups :)
December 4th, 2017 4:48am
You can put that energy into something else like sports, music, drawing, writing. The way you feel will trigger your creativity.
February 22nd, 2018 2:44pm
There is tons of things you can do like span a rubber band on your wrist, hold ice, exercise, scribble and many more things
April 3rd, 2018 7:13pm
I used to self harm a lot, I started coloring (this may sound childish) and I started using music as a way out, I started drawing and using my days reading a etc. I stopped self harming, sometimes I still use self harm if I get too overwhelmed, I know I shouldn't, but I'm getting through it.
June 3rd, 2019 7:28pm
Instead of harming yourself (in any way) you can draw a butterfly on the place you want to harm yourself and give it a name of a person who's important to you and let that person know (if this person is aware of your situation and if you're comfortable with it ofcourse) that it is there. When you want to hurt yourself you have to think about that someone cares about you and if you do harm yourself you kill the butterfly. This is called the butterfly project and it has helped me a lot in the past. It is more effective when you let the person know about the butterfly then when it's just for yourself.