WHAT ARE THE TIPS TO PREVENT OR ALTERNATIVES FOR SELF-HARM?
Unfortunately, a great many people think that young people who self harm are just seeking attention (as if that is somehow a bad thing anyway, don't we all want to be loved?).
And for those who do self harm, there are often feelings of guilt and shame mixed with the relief and pain.
So why do people often self harm :
- Communication : what is the person trying to genuinely say when they self harm?
- Coping with Crisis : strangely, some people believe that cutting helps them to cope
- Calming and Comforting : for some, self harm provides an emotional release
- Control : for others, self harm may be the only control they have over their own life
- Cleansing : for those who feel shame or guilt, self harm feels like self punishment
- Confirmation : for some, seeing the blood or feeling the cut is proof that they exist
As you can see, either if you self harm or if you know someone who does, there is far more than simple attention seeking going on.
And often, underlying the self harm there are feelings of shame, worthlessness, anger, feeling trapped, and so many other things.
If you are someone who is self harming I would invite you to hear the following things for you :
- Whatever you believe about yourself I do not believe you are worthless
- You were born Ok but something in your life has made you feel not Ok.
- With the right help you can feel Ok again
- You have as much right as everyone else to exist, to be here
- There is stuff inside your head you need to get outside your head. Therapy can help.
- If someone has done something to hurt you, you are not to blame
- Although you may feel out of control, the only person in your life who has real control over your life ... is you. You may not believe this right now, and that too is Ok.
And if you are cutting yourself I have two more invitations for you :
1. Strange as it may sound, if you are going to cut (and I would rather you didn't), then keep yourself safe. Use clean bandages and anti-septic wipes, and let someone know if you can.
2. Start therapy (with me or someone else) to start dealing with the reasons for all of this.
Gateway Counselling Leicester can help you to :
- Understand more about where your stress or depression is coming from
- Explore with you why you self harm as a way of coping with how you feel
- Have a safe and professional place to talk in confidence about your problems
- Find ways of coping with the stress, depression or anxiety on a day to day basis
- Explore the issues that have contributes to making you feel the way you feel
For some people this does work :
If you feel an even stronger urge to self-harm, try the following harm minimisation tips:
"One of the reasons that young people say they self-harm and may be cutting or injuring themselves, is that something has happened in their life that has made them feel contaminated or polluted by what's happened, whether it's physical or emotional," says Frances McCann, mental health practitioner. "It becomes a way of 'letting something out' and dealing with feelings of self-disgust or low self-esteem."
The A-Z of distractions (provided by young people who used to self harm) :
• Bake or cook something tasty. (Also builds self esteem once you get good!)
• Dance your socks off.
factor. Start jogging.
• Go for a walk, with friends if possible.
• Have a bubble bath with lots of bath bombs fizzing around you.
• Knit (it's not just for old people you know). This is surprisingly therapeutic.
• Music: singing, playing instruments, listening to (basically making as much noise as you can).
• Pop bubble wrap. Keep popping until every single bubble is popped.
• Read a book.
• Scream into an empty room. (Make sure its empty!). Or find an empty field, remote place.
• Tell or listen to stories
• Visit a zoo or a farm that lets you hold the animals(animals do the best things).
• Write: diary, poems, a book. Keep a journal in which you can be brutally honest.
• Yoga: meditation, deep breathing - this might help you relax and control your urges.
And of course, the latest craze at the moment : Adult Colouring Books
There are many self-help tips that may help you, otherwise known as 'alternatives to self-harm', or 'coping tips and distractions'. You might find some are more effective than others. Don't be disheartened if a technique isn't successful. Try a different one to see if it works better for you.
Here are a few you might want to try:
The 15-minute rule - if you're feeling the urge to self-harm, give yourself 15 minutes before you do. Distract yourself by going for a run or writing down your feelings. When the time's up, see if you can extend it by another 15 minutes. Try to keep going until the urge subsides;
Write a list of things you've achieved that make you feel proud, or fill a box with things that make you happy, such as pictures of friends and loved ones. Keep them handy and look at them when you're feeling bad;
You Are Not Alone And You Will Not Be Judged.