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Make Your Own Self-Harm Tracker

December 2, 2021 Kim Berkley

A self-harm tracker can be a useful tool in helping you begin the recovery process and maintain a self-harm sober streak over the long term. Let's take a look at how you can use a self-harm tracker in your own recovery journey and what information you might want to include in your own version.

What Is a Self-Harm Tracker?

A self-harm tracker usually tracks one of two things: either instances of self-harm, or how much time has passed since your last episode.

The first type of tracker is perhaps most helpful for people in the early stages of recovery. Tracking when you self-harm can give you insight into temporal triggers such as:

  • Time of day—For some people (myself included), being awake late at night by yourself can make self-harm all too tempting.
  • Day of the week—For example, you might be more prone to self-harm at the end of the week when you're feeling tired and stressed.
  • Time of the year—Certain holidays, changes in weather, or seasonal disorders (such as seasonal affective disorder) can exacerbate self-harm urges.

Tracking other potential triggers (such as who you spent time with, what activities you were engaged in, or what stressors you were experiencing prior to an episode) can also be incredibly useful information you can use to create a self-harm prevention plan, either on your own or with the help of a therapist.

Tracking "days clean," meanwhile, can be a motivational tool that will shine a spotlight on the progress you've made as you walk the road of recovery. A tracker like this helps you quantify certain recovery goals, and can also be helpful in setting up rewards for certain milestones (e.g., treating yourself to a new book or video game once you reach the 30-day mark).

Creating Your Own Self-Harm Tracker

If you work with a therapist, they might offer you a pre-made template for your self-harm tracker. You can also easily find a wide variety of tracker templates online (some free, some not). But since everyone's recovery journey is different, and we all need different things to help us move forward with healing, it might be worthwhile to create your own self-harm tracker.

Luckily, this is easy to do. You can write one up yourself with good old pen and paper, or you can create a simple table or two on your computer and print out what you need as you go.

But what, exactly, should you track? Here are some ideas; feel free to cherry pick the information you believe will be most helpful for you:

  • How many days it's been since you last self-harmed
  • Self-harm episode dates and times
  • Instances of self-harm urges that you did not act on
  • Potential triggers for each episode/urge
  • Intensity/duration of each episode/urge
  • Coping methods used and how effective they were
  • What specific thoughts and emotions you experienced during each episode/urge
  • Milestones you've passed, and ones you want to reach
  • Potential rewards for achieving certain recovery goals or milestones

The most important thing, especially when you're just trying this out for the first time, is to avoid overwhelming yourself. It is often helpful to start with a very simple tracker and only worry about tracking one or two of the items above at first. (Usually, tracking one or both of the first two items on the list will be most useful.)

Keeping things simple at the beginning will make it easier to form this new habit and stick with it. You can always change your format later and add extra details once you're more used to using your self-harm tracker consistently.

Do you use, or have you used, a self-harm tracker of your own? What information have you found most helpful to track? Please share your ideas and thoughts in the blog comments if you feel comfortable doing so.

APA Reference
Kim Berkley (2021, December 2). Make Your Own Self-Harm Tracker, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 9 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/12/make-your-own-self-harm-tracker



Author: Kim Berkley

Find Kim on Instagram, Facebook and her blog.

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