Distraction techniques

When you feel an urge to self-harm try some of the following and find out what works for you:

  • Phone or arrange to meet a someone you trust. Talk openly about how you are feeling.
  • Relax quietly and do some diaphragmatic breathing or relaxation exercises. Or try yoga, mindfulness, meditation or listen to some calming music.
  • Call a helpline 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, baking, tidying up, doing the ironing or gardening.
  • Go to a public place like the supermarket, library or shopping mall.
  • Do a puzzle.
  • Pamper yourself or do something you enjoy – take a massage, go to a café or cinema, 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.
  • Start doing voluntary work, join a club or start a part-time course.

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 are feeling now will pass – ‘It will pass’.

Delay technique

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.