Keeping a Self-harm diary can help you to recognise when an urge is coming so you can find ways of managing or reducing the desire to self-harm.

Try quick self-help

If you’re feeling very anxious and overwhelmed these quick simple self-help techniques can help you to cope and feel calmer.

Delay the urge

You could also try this technique to help you delay the need to self-harm. Wait 10 minutes and then another 10 minutes, delay for an hour and keep increasing the length of time for as long as you can.

Distract yourself

When you feel an urge to self-harm try some of these activities and find out what helps to distract you. In this way you may find other ways of coping which can release your stress.

  • Phone or arrange to meet someone you trust. Talk openly about how you’re feeling.
  • Relax quietly and do some diaphragmatic breathing or relaxation exercises. Or try yoga, mindfulness or listen to some calming music.
  • Call a support service for emotional support.
  • Go for a run or a swim.
  • Take a walk in nature.
  • Dance around the room or shout out loud.
  • Tear something up.
  • Hold ice cubes or take a cold shower.
  • Eat something strong or spicy.
  • Flick an elastic band on your wrist.
  • Hit, or scream into a cushion.
  • Play a mobile phone or computer game.
  • Focus on a domestic task like making a drink, cooking, tidying up, doing the ironing or gardening.
  • Go to a public place like the supermarket, library or shopping centre.
  • Do a puzzle.
  • Pamper yourself or do something you enjoy – go to a café (according to government guidance), eat a piece of chocolate (a small amount) or watch a TV comedy.
  • Read a magazine or favourite book.
  • Doodle or be creative with an adult colouring book.
  • Express yourself through art – paint, draw, take photos or write down your feelings.
  • Sing along to a favourite song.
  • Do a craft you enjoy – origami, sewing, knitting.
  • Try aromatherapy.
  • Take a hot bubble bath.
  • Stroke an animal.

Create a toolbox of positive thoughts

Create a ‘toolbox’ which can help boost your mood whenever you find yourself feeling low or anxious.

  • Make lists of things you like about yourself, successes, things you are grateful for, good experiences and compliments.
  • Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost – a walk in nature, playing with a pet, a craft activity.
  • Include some upbeat music, a funny movie, a favourite book and photographs that make you feel happy.
  • Write a note to remind yourself that how you’re feeling now will pass – ‘It will pass’.

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