WHAT ARE THE TIPS TO PREVENT OR ALTERNATIVES FOR SELF-HARM?
Minimise self-harm damage:
If you feel an even stronger urge to self-harm, try the following harm minimisation tips:
• Use a red felt tip pen to mark where you might usually cut;
• Hit pillows or cushions, or have a good scream into a pillow or cushion to vent anger and frustration;
• Rub ice across your skin where you might usually cut, or hold an ice-cube in the crook of your arm or leg;
• Put elastic bands on wrists, arms or legs and flick them instead of cutting or hitting;
• Have a cold bath or shower.
"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 Butterfly Project (One of My Personal Favourites)
The A-Z of distractions
Often the best thing is to find out what has worked for other people who understand where you're coming from. TheSite.org asked young people from young people's mental health service, 42nd Street in Manchester, to come up with some of the alternatives that help them:
• Alternative therapies: massage, reiki, meditation, acupuncture, aromatherapy.
• Bake or cook something tasty. (Also builds self esteem once you get good!)
• Craft-work: make things, draw or paint. Be Creative. Express yourself.
• Dance your socks off.
• Exercise for a release of endorphins and that feel-good factor. Start jogging.
• Forward planning - concentrate on something in the future, like a holiday.
• Go for a walk, with friends if possible.
• Hang out with friends and family. Play some games (hangman, charades, etc)
• Have a bubble bath with lots of bath bombs fizzing around you.
• Hug a soft toy or a real person. Also, cuddles and hugs lower depression, reduce anxiety, Fact!
• Invite friends round, chat, have pizza, a film marathon,
• Join a gym or a club.
• Knit (it's not just for old people you know). This is surprisingly therapeutic.
• Listen to music. (preferably music you can dance to in your bedroom)
• Music: singing, playing instruments, listening to (basically making as much noise as you can).
• Open up to a friend about how you are feeling. Ask them to listen without talking to start with.
• Pop bubble wrap. Keep popping until every single bubble is popped.
• Play with a stress ball or make one yourself (balloons, flour).
• Read a book.
• Rip up a phone directory or thick catalogue (Argos, if you're in the UK).
• Scream into an empty room. (Make sure its empty!). Or find an empty field, remote place.
• Spend time with babies (when they're in a good mood). Watch children playing.
• Tell or listen to stories
• Tai Chi, Mindfulness, Reflection, Prayer
• Visit a zoo or a farm that lets you hold the animals(animals do the best things).
• Volunteer for an organisation (will make you feel all warm inside).
• Write: diary, poems, a book. Keep a journal in which you can be brutally honest.
• Write all your negative feelings on paper, then rip them up or burn them (safely). Let them go.
• Yoga: meditation, deep breathing - this might help you relax and control your urges.
• Zzz - get a good night's sleep.
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;
Meditation - try to visualise the urge as an emotional wave you can surf. Imagine it reaching a crescendo then breaking as you successfully resist its force;
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;
Practice expressing your emotions and feelings through art or writing or talking to a friend.
And Finally, as always, if you need it, get counselling: you know where I am. x
Which ones did you find most interesting or meaningful?
Which did you agree with and not agree with (and why) ?
What would you add?
Make Your Own List.
What is it, I wonder, about our need to blame?
I have been thinking alot about this recently. In the news at the moment is a tragic real life event about a young four year old child who lost her life being attacked by a rescue dog. The mother, as I understand it, entered the room, tried desperately to get the dog off of her little girl, and had to kill the dog to do so. Her child still died.
Unfortunately the response from the public, from us, is one of two reactions. One is of huge compassion, feeling for the mother, horror at what the child has gone through, grief at the loss of such a beautiful, innocent life. Many also feel compassion for the rescue dog, who must have suffered horribly under previous owners, and reacted to an unknown trigger which ended so tragically.
The second reaction is, of course, blame. Somebody has to be at fault. Did the child do something unintentionally to scare the dog? Was the dog merely vicious and attacked without provocation (it was, I believe, a mastiff, which has a reputation that clouds this issue in many people's eyes). What about the mother? Should she have got a rescue dog, or been more aware of the issues? Should she have left the child alone?
There is something inside us that has to find someone or something to blame. If we can do this, we can somehow find closure. It makes us feel better.
But the truth is, blame doesn't matter as much as we think it does, and compassion matters far more than we often think. Compassion points us to the suffering of the child and the grief of the family and others. Compassion points us towards the rescue dog and what it must have endured at the hands of less loving people.
Things happen. Good and bad. We, as always, have a choice. We can choose to blame, making ourselves feel better, somehow justified, right, without doing anything else. Or we can choose to show compassion, understanding, gentleness.
This is true of tragic stories. It is true in our relationships with our parents, our partners, our children, even our friends and enemies. It is even true in our relationship with and view of ourselves.
I choose compassion (even though I am not always good at it). It is a work in progress.
What will you choose?
Easier said than done, but still consider the implications of the following story ...
How The Hate We Carry Can Burden Us.
A kindergarten teacher has decided to let her class play a game.
The teacher told each child in the class to bring along a plastic bag containing a few potatoes. Each potato will be given a name of a person that the child hates, so the number of potatoes that a child will put in his/her plastic bag will depend on the number of people he/she hates.
So when the day came, every child brought some potatoes with the name of the people he/she hated. Some had 2 potatoes; some 3 while some up to 5 potatoes.
The teacher then told the children to carry with them the potatoes in the plastic bag wherever they go (even to the toilet) for 1 week.
Days after days passed by, and the children started to complain due to the unpleasant smell let out by the rotten potatoes. Besides, those having 5 potatoes also had to carry heavier bags.
After 1 week, the children were relieved because the game had finally ended.
The teacher asked: "How did you feel while carrying the potatoes with you for 1 week?" The children let out their frustrations and started complaining of the trouble that they had to go through having to carry the heavy and smelly potatoes wherever they go.
Then the teacher told them the hidden meaning behind the game. The teacher said: "This is exactly the situation when you carry your hatred for somebody inside your heart. The stench of hatred will contaminate your heart and you will carry it with you wherever you go. If you cannot tolerate the smell of rotten potatoes for just 1 week, can you imagine what is it like to have the stench of hatred in your heart for your lifetime?"
This, I think, is one of the most important points in counselling and therapy for people to grasp.
What we tell ourselves has a huge impact on the way we think, how we feel and what we do about our lives.
Even more so, the stories we tell ourselves and keep retelling ourselves have a huge impact ... those stories we also keep telling to other people to justify why we feel the way we do or why we do what we do.
A person who constantly tells themselves they feel useless, convinces themselves they can't do something, reminds themselves of all the times they tried and something went wrong or others made fun of them, even tells others those stories as if in jest, but they're not really joking ...
What's going to happen to that person?
And what about the person who feels that life isn't worth living ...
They remember all the struggles, the pain and hurts which are incredibly real and actually happened, they have a list in their heads of every bad thing that happened, and probably a list of who was to blame for it. They may even have convinced themselves that they are to blame somewhere buried inside. They have a 'yes, but' for every time someone tries to convince them life is worth living, a story they recount as if to prove their point. They retell all those stories, not just to others but to themselves over and over again (and by default ignore all the reasons people give them for why life is worth living, because those reasons don't fit what they want to believe).
What is going to happen to that person.
And finally (for now) ...
What about the person who says ...
- Things will get better (because they have to ...)
- I am important (because I am alive and I am here ...)
- This too will pass (because all things do if I can just persevere ...)
and so on.
What will happen to the person who remembers the times they succeeded (even though there were times when they failed), reminds their friends of the better times as well as the worst, chooses to look at the beauty in the world (even though there is plenty that is not beautiful).
It is not an easy path. It is easier (and often more popular) to look at the crap that happens to us (and let's face it, it happens to all of us and there is no shortage of examples)
But maybe it's time to let go of those stories and find better ones.
The choice, as always, is our own, yours and mine