28th February 2018
March 1 is national Self Harm Awareness Day - a day dedicated to raising awareness and providing information about self harm. Here, 25 year old media volunteer Lara shares her advice on how to cope when you feel like self-harming.
When you feel like self harming it’s hard to imagine that you can overcome it. It’s almost like you’re being pulled towards it, destined to use this devastating coping method you’ve began to rely on. But, there are other things you can do to distract yourself and occupy your mind until the intensity has decreased.
I’ve been given lots of one word “solutions” such as “read”, “draw”, or “write”. While these might be helpful to some people, I find that thinking about what feelings are causing me to have this urge is more productive, and then from there I can find a distraction technique that works.
Everyone is different, but here are some techniques I’ve personally found helpful over the years:
- When things aren’t going to plan, I often feel the need to get control back. Rather than self-harming, writing lists or cleaning can help me feel more organised. One thing that has kept me occupied until the urge passes many times is pulling all my CDs, DVDs, or books out and organising them in alphabetical order.
- When I feel sad or lonely, I’m often by myself, so it’s easy to feel like self harm will help. This is when I reach out. It can be to anyone: from a friend or family member to a helpline. Talking to someone automatically eases that loneliness and lets our brains engage and concentrate. Or if I really don’t want to talk, then I’ll get all my blankets, lie down on the sofa and binge watch Still Game or Friends with some snacks. A warm blanket or hot water bottle can be really comforting!
- When I feel angry, I scream into my pillow, or sometimes I even punch it. It might sound a bit silly, but it really does help me without causing any harm . I’ll also go for a fast walk, or you could run or go to the gym. It helps release all that energy, and when you come home you’ll be tired and hopefully feel more at ease.
- When I feel low, I engage in some self care. I treat myself to a lush bath bomb as I find the colours and smell really calming. There is no need to wait for a special occasion if it helps you feel better!
Some other things I’ve found helpful are going for a coffee, writing a letter to myself or to a friend, looking at positive quotes online, being crafty, mindfulness, swimming, taking pictures, petting animals, cooking myself a nice meal, going to the library, being by the seaside.
If you struggle with self-harm, I’d encourage you to create your own list of distractions. This is a personal journey, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for you, so don’t worry if it takes some time to figure out what works. If you don’t know where to start, pick a few to try out.
It’s important to remember that you have survived everything you’ve been through until now, and you will survive this too.