Self-Help For Self-Injury
How can a person who self-injures stop this self-harm behavior? Here are some good self-injury coping skills.
Most people who self-harm want to stop hurting themselves and they can do this by trying to develop new ways of coping and communicating. However, some people feel a need not only to change their behavior but also to understand why they have resorted to harming themselves.
There are a number of techniques that can reduce the risk of serious injury or minimize the harm caused by self-inflicted injury. This list is not exhaustive - different people find different things useful in various situations. So if one doesn't work, try another.
- stop and try to work out what would have to change to make you no longer feel like hurting yourself
- count down from ten (nine, eight, seven)
- point out five things, one for each sense, in your surroundings to bring your attention on to the present
- breathe slowly - in through the nose and out through the mouth.
If you still feel like cutting, try:
- marking yourself with a red water-soluble felt-tip pen instead of cutting
- a punch bag to vent the anger and frustration
- plunging your hands into a bowl of ice cubes (not for too long, though)
- rubbing ice where you'd otherwise cut yourself
There are several other things you can do to help yourself better cope with self-injury:
- Acknowledge that this IS a problem, that you are hurting on the inside, and that you need professional assistance to stop injuring yourself.
- Realize that this is not about being bad or stupid - this is about recognizing that a behavior that somehow was helping you handle your feelings has become as big a problem as the one it was trying to solve in the first place.
- Find one person you trust - maybe a friend, teacher, minister, counselor, or relative - and say that you need to talk about something serious that is bothering you.
- Get help in identifying what "triggers" your self-harming behaviors and ask for help in developing ways to either avoid or address those triggers.
- Recognize that self-injury is an attempt to self-sooth, and that you need to develop other, better ways to calm and sooth yourself.
Last Updated: 24 June 2011
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD