Ways of managing an urge to self-harm

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 meeta 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 nowwill 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.

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