It is not uncommon for people experiencing intense emotional pain to turn the anger and frustration they feel against themselves. You may know someone who turns to self-harm, or you may engage in self-harming behaviors. It is recommended you engage a mental health professional to help with self-harming behaviors.
There are many reasons individuals may turn to self-harm as a coping mechanism. These behaviors are a health risk and can lead to infections and scars. While not all self-harming behaviors are suicide attempts, it is one of the risk predictors for a completed suicide. Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI) is more common in adolescent populations than previously thought and it is important to assess the associated risk of suicidal behavior.
People who choose to self-harm likely understand that the act isn’t an effective long-term coping method for their emotions, but they lack the skills to effectively cope with unwanted feelings. If you or someone you know needs help finding new coping methods, check out this list of alternatives for self-harming to get started.
In This Article
- Methods to Cope With Self-Harm
- Outpatient and Residential Treatment Centers for Self-Harm in Georgia
Methods to Cope With Self-Harm
There are two aspects of self-harming behavior — the physical practice (the action) and the mental process (the urge to act). The physical habit is likely easier to change than the underlying mental process. The best way to change a pattern is to replace it with a different one. There are several things you can do when you feel the urge to hurt yourself that would be less harmful and allow you to release the tension you feel.
The key is to discover a safer habit that works for you and retrain your brain to do it instead of self-harming. Try these instead:
Moving your body with physical activity is an effective way to release stress and distract yourself from negativity. Try exercises like yoga, going for a walk, swimming, dancing or any activity that you enjoy to get your body moving.
Working out may be the last thing on your mind in the moment, but reflect on how you feel after you get up and move. Remind yourself that exercise is worth the extra effort after you complete your activity.
Any form of exercise burns energy, positive or negative. You can take your negative energy and use it to build a healthier lifestyle.
2. Cooking or Baking
Cooking is a popular hobby, and recipes and cooking shows are everywhere. If you like food or you like to cook, consider using this as a way to distract yourself and engage in an enjoyable activity instead self-harming. Making food for yourself as a way to extend self-compassion and nourish ones body or making food for others and a way to contribute to those around you can be a powerful way to cope with unwanted feelings instead.
3. Be Creative
Creativity and art is an excellent way to express emotions that you are struggling to put into words. Art can also provide a sense of control and allow you to use your hands and release stress physically. Art can guide you to a state of flow, which helps intense feelings fade as you focus your energy on your art or creative project.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, picking up a pen and paper and scribbling is a great place to start when looking for alternatives to self-harm.
4. Calling a friend
Receiving emotional support from a friend or family member you trust is an essential part of recovering from self-harm. Opening up to someone about your feelings gets easier as you continue to talk to someone you trust. Take time out of your day to call someone when you need a substitute for self-harm.
5. Listening to Music
Music is a healthy way to channel your feelings into various types of songs. Focusing on the song’s rhythm and lyrics can be an excellent distraction from intense feelings. The lyrics can also help you process your emotions and release tension by dancing or singing along to the song. Be mindful of the type of music you choose because music can also exacerbate the current feeling.
6. Reading a Book
Try reading a book if you want to dive into a story and refocus your mind on an engaging activity. Books can transport you to another time and place, and help distract your mind. You can fully immerse yourself in a great story and stay busy for hours.
7. Watching a Movie
Like reading a book, a movie can help you focus on a storyline to distract yourself from your own thoughts and emotions. Invite a friend out to a movie theater or snuggle up on your couch to watch your favorite film.
8. Hang Out With a Pet
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take some time to hang out with your pet. Your pet can help distract you and put a smile on your face.
9. Have a Self-Care Day
Take some time just for yourself when you need some self-care. Soak in a warm bath, put on a face mask, enjoy your favorite meal or make time for your favorite activity.
Getting into the zone when you’re cleaning is a great way to distract yourself from unwanted feelings. Start by cleaning one section of your house and continue for as long as you’d like. Turn on some music or your favorite podcast and you’re ready to go. It’s always nice to see the progress and feel accomplished when you’re done.
No matter which method works for you, distracting your mind away from the unwanted feelings and urge to self-harm will help reduce your self-harming behaviors.
Outpatient and Residential Treatment Centers for Self-Harm in Georgia
Replacing self-harming behavior with something safe is just the beginning. It is important to address the underlying thought pattern that drives you to want to harm yourself. Hillside provides a variety of behavioral treatment options in Georgia. Our residential treatment and Experience DBT Day Program provide intensive levels of mental health support at our campus in Atlanta. Our Intensive outpatient services including in-person options in Savannah and Macon. Hillside’s intensive virtual treatment options serves teens who engages in self-harming behaviors throughout the state of Georgia and Florida.