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When distractions don't work, what else can I try to prevent self-harm?

18 Answers
Last Updated: 11/30/2021 at 1:06am
When distractions don't work, what else can I try to prevent self-harm?
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Elena Morales, LMHC

Licensed Professional Counselor

I believe silence creates a cycle. With empathic and collaborative therapy, we break the cycle. I help clients feel validated and supported passed anger, shame, and anxiety.

Top Rated Answers
July 13th, 2015 12:59am
A unique technique that you can try, is to instead of self harm, draw lots of pictures such as butterflies where you intended to self harm. As those pictures gradually fade; so do your scratches/scars. Think of it as setting the butterfly free.
August 10th, 2015 10:21pm
Take a red pen and mark wherever you want to hurt yourself and if you want to do it again, draw another line. Draw something pretty where you want to hurt youself, if you hurt yourself, then you'd destroy the pretty thing you drew. Squeeze a piece of ice until the urge stops, or rub the ice over the place you want to hurt yourself. Go to a public place, where if you hurt yourself, people will know. Wait it out- the urge will stop eventually, say to yourself "I'll hurt myself in 15 minutes if I still want to" then after 15 minutes, repeat until the urge stops. Punch a pillow, rip up paper, and/or scream, exc. Any of those might work. Stay strong!
August 16th, 2015 1:48am
Saying 'no' to self-harm can be tough. Sometimes, it's easier to say, 'later' instead. For example, 'If I still feel like self-harming at the end of the day, then it's okay.' Set a time-frame that's challenging, but achievable. Depending on the intensity and frequency of your self-harming, it might be an hour, half an hour, or even five minutes. Another option is to write a to-do list, which you promise yourself you'll complete before you'll self-harm. Again, this should be challenging, but achievable. Your list might include things like: walk around the block, phone a friend, read a chapter of a book, or listen to a song. It helps to make the list as specific as possible. Even if you still end up self-harming, delaying for a bit longer each time is a worthy step on the road to recovery.
April 26th, 2015 10:39am
Calm your self and tried to stay away from things or materials that can harm you. If you can't, ask you best friend or someone you trust to help you with that
May 13th, 2015 4:35pm
The driving force behind most self-harm is the feeling of an instant release. Self-harm creates an immediate, intense, flooding sense of calm/release. Most distractions are just that, distractions. While they are good to use, absolutely, the problem comes from not actually learning an appropriate response to the emotional triggers for your self-harm urges. A simple method to working through urges is this: just wait. Wait. Wait. Wait it out. Wait 24 hours after you have the urge to harm yourself. In that time frame think to yourself 'What brought me here? Why do I want to harm myself? If I do harm myself, how is that going to help me deal with the trigger? What is the trigger? In the next 24 hours what can I do to learn from this experience and build a stronger, more appropriate, coping strategy?' Sometimes people harm themselves after they have been hurt by someone they care about, kind of like 'You hurt me, so I'll hurt me too' or 'You hurt me, I'll hurt me but it's your fault. By hurting myself I am really hurting you'. The person who causes you hurt, chances are, they never actually see your scars or your pain, and are unaware of how they hurt you. If you are in this situation think of this; After you have been hurt by someone, how does you hurting yourself make it better? Chances are your answer will be 'It doesn't'. To prevent self-harm: identify your triggers, what brought you to that point. Work on building a strong, positive, healthy coping strategy. Don't hesitate to ask for help!
September 20th, 2016 11:07pm
Try finding a reason not to. A motivation. I made a promise to someone I love, someone I will never break a promise to. They became my motivation to never hurt myself. When I hurt myself I hurt them too, and I never want them to be in pain.
February 11th, 2015 11:26am
Sometimes it helps to put yourself in a room with other people. If you're surrounded by others, your mood has a tendency to approve and you're much less likely to go through the trouble of coming up with an excuse to leave and self harm. Being around your family and friends is also a really good reminder that you're cared for and important to so many people!
November 17th, 2015 7:28pm
Keep out of sight things oh could use. If you feel like self harming call or message someone instead of doing it.
November 23rd, 2015 3:24am
Color in a coloring book. Draw pictures. Draw with a red marker over the places you would usually harm. Play music and dance. Scream. Go for a run. Play with animals. Clean. These are things that worked for me. I hope they work for you too.
December 14th, 2015 3:44am
Try talking to someone you trust about it. If you`ve promised to hold back to someone else, it is harder to fail.
February 9th, 2016 8:15pm
Try to see the good things in life, or speak with someone that makes you feel comfortable. Talk to them and let them listen. That helps me a lot!
August 30th, 2016 7:21am
Things that can almost mimick self harm without actually harming you: - putting ice on your skin - holding your hand under a freezing cold tap - drawing on your skin with a red marker/ paint - the butterfly project - wear an elastic band around your wrist, pull it and snap it at your skin - place plasticine over your arm and gently cut into it - chew on ginger root/a pepper - clap your hands until they sting - take a hot shower/cold bath - massage the area you want to harm That was all I could think of for now, take care!
June 27th, 2017 3:43am
Talk to a friend or family member. Do not isolate yourself.
July 11th, 2017 10:31pm
splatter paint break sticks write out the lyrics to your favourite song re-organise your room count the ceiling lights or tiles remember a happy moment and relive it in your head run and jump onto an empty plastic soda bottle light a candle and watch the flame draw something beautiful on your body where you would normally harm and give it a name (the butterfly project)
May 8th, 2018 2:29am
I think this is one of those questions where you can ask 100 people and get 100 different answers. For me, it was a video game, or trying to answer as many posts on a forum as possible. Working out, running and being around other people worked for me as well.
June 4th, 2018 6:30am
this depends on why you are self harming. if trying to punish yourself, then speak to someone who will help you realise that you don't deserve this. if trying to numb emotional pain, then find other, more positive methods like meditation or mindfulness. if feeling numb due to trauma or something else, then try less harmful methods like keeping your hand in ice or rubber bands. self reflection and self control, along with help from someone else will find you a personalised path to recovery.
December 18th, 2018 5:53am
When distractions don't work, there are multiple things you can do to prevent self-harm. You can try talking to a friend, or family member or someone you trust, or seek profession help. Or you can write down your feelings and try to understand your feelings and how you can help yourself feel better. Watching youtube videos or reading self help articles online can also help. Another idea is chatting to people online on websites like 7 cups or apps like Talklife, that way you can share your feelings without being judged and gain a positive and helpful out look.
November 30th, 2021 1:06am
Talk to people. It may be hard, and I understand that, however if others in your life know of this issue, then they can help fix it. You have to remember that just talking really does help. You are the expert on yourself, and sometimes distractions just don't work. That is okey dokey, because they don't work for everyone. Something that can help is getting rid of objects you use to hurt yourself, but also getting rid of the things that make you want to hurt yourself. You have to think of the bigger picture, self-harm is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Always remember that.