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What have others used to replace self harm as a coping mechanism?

32 Answers
Last Updated: 08/11/2020 at 5:23pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
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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
October 27th, 2015 12:40am
I would use rubber bands and snap them on my wrist, which helped. For me though, ice worked the best when I was first trying to stop self harming. Writing was an amazing go-to coping mechanism for me! I would keep list around with topics to write about. I would pick one at random and either write my opinion on the subject or I would end up venting and hating on that topic! Which ever one made me feel better at that time haha it worked though :) (Eventually I actually started writing in blogs, guest blogging and writing for peoples websites). I was self-harming for almost 5 years and am now "clean". I haven't self-harmed in 1.5 years :) You can do it, too! Find something that works for you and stick with it. I would write on my mirrors and white boards, "Say NO!" or "Yes, you can!" for when my thought was "I can't do this...". I would usually hang a rubber band next to the note to remind myself that I've already come this far...I CAN keep going, I CAN do this. So can you. :)
May 20th, 2015 10:33am
Personally, I like to draw on my skin, though drawing on paper is also a great idea! Doing anything that focus your hands and your mind is awesome, like drawing, writing, or cleaning. I organize my closet, rearrange bookshelves, or tidy up my room when I feel the urge to self harm sometimes. The band aid trick has also worked well for me. It's when you put a band aid on the place you want to self harm without actually self harming. Many people swear by drawing on yourself with red pen in the place you want to self harm, too. I think that one of the most important things is to create distance between yourself and your blades. Hide them somewhere in your house that isn't the room you'd usually use them in, or if you feel the urge to self harm get either out of the room they're in/the room you normally self harm in. Getting outside can be really helpful!
June 3rd, 2015 2:02am
i use my music as a coping mechanism. When somethings got me down, I go somewhere quiet and play my cello
May 24th, 2015 12:26am
Some things that have helped me with coping are that instead of hurting myself I'll read, write, go for a walk, listen to music, draw, or talk to a friend.
May 27th, 2015 6:31pm
Some people used other methods of self harm, (such as squeezing an ice cube) as a coping mechanism. Some people turn to therapy and some people turn to other people. It's all unique to the individual, and our coping mechanisms will differ. What works for one, may not work for another. For example, someone may do sports, and finds that really helps them cope and take their mind off self harm, whereas another may draw instead! :}
January 20th, 2015 12:13pm
I know that one way you can cope with self harm is to simply distract yourself, give yourself multiple things to do that you won't have time to do it.
September 7th, 2015 3:04am
Snapping a hair tie on the wrist, holding an ice cube until it melts, taking a cool or warm shower, punching a pillow or a punching bag.
September 8th, 2015 8:00am
I had a friend who used to keep a rubber band around her wrist. She would snap it whenever she felt the need to cut. It worked for her. Another friend got tattoos of beautiful art, and she liked the art better than cutting, so she wouldn't cut anymore.
May 31st, 2016 5:07pm
Questing self harm can help asking your self are the scars worth it ? Do I really want to do this again. Trying talking to people.
March 14th, 2015 5:36pm
It's important to find something that you need to focus on.That way you will distract your thought and the urge to self harm.For example,I have used drawing as a way to get throught those urges.Do something that you love and that fulfills you but also that is distracting enough.
March 25th, 2015 10:01am
Personally I replaced self harm with distraction therapy, I vary what I do one time I may go for a walk another time I may use colour therapy or take a hot bath, the most effective one for me though was to have a elastic band round my wrist and every time I got the urge to self harm I'd snap it against my wrist, but to really stop self harming the underline issue needs to be addressed and worked on.
April 11th, 2015 8:37am
Having a nice warm bubble bath with a cup of hot chocolate is what I use to replace self-harm. I've also asked to go for an evening walk with one of my family members, I find the cool night air helps clear my mind.
October 9th, 2015 12:32am
I love this question! I used to struggle with self harm but no longer do. Some of the things that helped me stop and continue to help me cope are: Music' Being open to a trusted friend/parent/relative about what's going on Watching tv to take my mind off of things Running/sports/exercise Take a shower Write/read Go shopping/buy myself something Find your "happy place", in other words, find a public place that you can find peace in. For example, for me, it's a lake near my house. Eat (although emotional eating can become unhealthy) as long as you avoid binge eating you should be okay. Play a game (video game, board game, etc.) Call someone Write down some other things on your to-do list whether it's homework, mail a bill, clean, etc. Those may not be fun things to do necessarily, but they will take your mind off of your current feelings and urges You can clean/organize something. This could take away some anxiety thus causing you to lose that urge to self harm. Those are just some of the things that seemed to work for me, I hope you guys can use them too!
November 26th, 2015 9:10pm
I used to self harm and my coping mechanism is reading, talking with friends and playing a sport. If those don't help try going to one of our self help guides.
December 14th, 2015 12:25am
I found that drawing on my skin instead of hurting it helps, and keeping a journal to vent everything can be therapeutic.
December 14th, 2015 6:43pm
Cold ice on skin and elastic band pings. The best technique in my opinion is the distraction technique; resist the urge for 5 mins and then another 5 minutes and the longer you delay it, the less you feel the need to self harm.
December 14th, 2015 9:08pm
I have made use of the ice cube technique (hold and ice cube in your fist until the urge to cut passes) and drawing on my skin instead of cutting. drawing little doodles and designs till the urge passes
February 29th, 2016 3:10pm
hobbies such as painting, drawing, writing stories or poetry to realise emotion, skateboarding, walking your pets, walking round the park,
April 5th, 2016 12:02pm
Drawing patterns on the areas where they would usually harm, using nothing sharp, like felt tip pens.
April 11th, 2016 2:34am
You could draw on yourself with a soft tip pen or marker, painting, drawing, sports, anything that will help you relax and feel better
April 12th, 2016 5:06pm
Music, ice cubes, drawing on the place you want to harm yourself, rubber bands, warm (not hot) bath or shower. I plan on getting tattoos on the places I harm the most so that I'll be afraid to ruin the beautiful art in those places. For instance, I used to cut my left wrist a lot and I'm planning on getting a music note type of sleeve so then I will refrain from hurting the art.
May 24th, 2016 8:36am
The most typical method (and most portrayed on TV and in movies) is having a rubber band around your wrist that you would snap when you get the urge to self harm. However, something I've known to be of more help to both myself and others is to draw on yourself-- it sounds a bit weird to some, but instead of cutting in the place where you want to, just take a pen and draw a line, or a picture, or even write a word that you are feeling in that moment. The pen on your skin can provide just enough pressure to provide a slightly similar feeling to cutting, but without the actual injury. And there are no scars-- when you want to, you can just wash it off.
May 31st, 2016 5:39pm
I use music and watching a TV show like Empire that interests me. I also started to do photography and helping others and it really helps!
June 14th, 2016 3:25am
I know others have used the snapping of a rubberband or hair tie. Others have used ice or cold water of the sort to distract. I use reading or writing as method to get my emotions out. Taking a piece of paper and scribbling on it can help as well.
November 15th, 2016 6:51am
I used to harm myself from 5th grade to mid-high school (so it has been awhile since I've done it but...). One of my immediate replacements was exercise. Whenever I felt frustrated, I would quickly feel refreshed with a good run. The rush of adrenaline and how good I felt after a workout would give me the energy to go without the hurt. Indulging in favorite activities helped also (like drawing) especially with expressing my emotions (writing or music are other similar options).
January 16th, 2017 7:11pm
I have found playing music to be a replacement for self harm. Something about aggressively strumming strings and singing along to sad music made me not want to harm myself anymore. I substituted cutting myself with blisters on my fingertips from playing guitar.
March 20th, 2017 10:57am
There are lots of ways to cope with self harming thoughts and actions. It's important to have a safety plan, people you can call, parents you can get hold of, using vibrant markers to draw or using elastic around the wrist can be helpful.
April 23rd, 2018 6:10pm
There are many different types of coping mechanisms people use. Distraction, meditation, sports, etc. You need to try everything to find the one that works the best for you
March 5th, 2019 5:32pm
I use distracting myself as a replacement, for example I will put on a tv show, or go for a walk. I will curl up in bed and take a nap. playing games is a good distraction for me as well. just taking my mind of things is what helps me to stay away from the bad coping mechanism. and if all that fails I would call a friend or play a game with them. or I would write out how I'm feeling, journaling your emotions can help you to release the negative emotions. watching cute animal videos is also a good replacement.
May 27th, 2019 8:45pm
For me personally, I have found that using icy water can really help shock me out of the urges. I splash it on my face. Similarly, I know other people who suggest holding ice cubes or having cold showers which work in the same sort of way. As a longer term thing (so not just as an immediate response to urges), I use a bullet journal to keep track of my daily self care, including whether or not I've self harmed/had urges etc. I try to remind myself that I don't want the scars and I don't want to erase my progress - that isn't always enough but sometimes it is. Other things that I sometimes use are drawing (including on myself), music (often loud and either sad or angry but sometimes upbeat/happy is good at lifting my mood) and writing. Hope this helps!