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Alternatives to Self Harming



Well-known member
Jun 28, 2008
Yorkshire, UK
My boyfriend has been researching self harming on the internet and came across a site which has loads of alternative to self harming and the reasons behind why you would. I thought they had some pretty good ideas! I've tried a couple off of here needless to say not all of them will work for everyone as everyone is different.

Give it a look over and see what you think :)

Harming yourself is not the only way to cope with your feelings. Here are some of the ideas other young people have come up with to find different ways of coping. Some may work for you! A lot depends on thinking about why you are self harming. People often harm themselves because they can find no other way to relieve a feeling of being overwhelmed by intense emotions.
These emotions commonly fall into five groups:
Anger and frustration : Feeling so wound up and annoyed that you want to scream and shout. (in this case animals would claw at themselves).
Low self esteem (punishment): Feeling so undervalued and low that you want to harm and feel you may even deserve it.
Dissociation : Feeling so overwhelmed by everything going on around, you want to escape or distract yourself by making a louder metaphorical noise.
Control and focus : Feeling that so much is out of your control that the only thing that you can control is the harm you inflict on yourself.
Self nurture : Feeling unreal and needing to harm to know you exist, or to help yourself heal.
Here are some of the alternatives young people have suggested, put in the same five groups as above.

Anger/ frustration
Trying screaming/ crying/ hugging someone.
Try having a cold shower.
Try biting on something like a lemon to give you a sharp sensation.
Try exercising, going for a walk/ run.
Try hitting something not alive, for example a pillow or punch bag. Perhaps talking to the object you are hitting, explaining what's wrong.
Try making a soft cloth doll, rip/cut it up to represent how you feel instead of doing it to yourself.
Try listening to loud/ angry music, dance/ sing along.
Try dropping ice into a bath or throwing it against a wall so it shatters, or hit a tree with a stick. You could also slash up a plastic bottle, flatten cans for recycling.
Try making clay models to smash.
Try squeezing silly putty then stretching it until it snaps.
Try talking to someone.

Low self esteem
Try pampering yourself - whatever makes you feel taken care of/comforted. For example having a bath, listening to soothing music, burning incense, making a tray of 'treats' then watching t.v. or reading, getting a haircut or buying a happy meal.
Try phoning or visiting a friend, talk, hug or do something together.
Try crying.
Try soothing body lotion on the areas you want to harm.
Try being creative, making play dough models or a collage, writing or painting.
Try thinking of not harming as punishment if you feel you need to be punished.
Try listing the good things about yourself.

Try squeezing ice or putting a hand in a mixture of water, salt and ice for a few seconds.
Try putting a rubber band around a wrist then pinging it when you need to.
Try taking a cold/hot shower.
Try biting into something like a lemon or a hot pepper.
Try doing something creative like making a collage, write poetry, bake or paint.
Try to focus on breathing.
Try to play taxing games like tetris, minesweeper or snake.
Try choosing an object in the room and describing it as you would to a blind person - its size, weight, colour etc.
Try scribbling on paper.
Try being around people, perhaps playing games with a younger sibling, hugging someone or helping someone else.
Try opening the dictionary in random places and learning new words, also try thinking in another language as you may have to simplify your thoughts.
Try creating a mental 'safe place'.

Control and focus
Try squeezing ice.
Try putting a rubber band around a wrist then pinging it when you need to.
Try taking a cold/hot shower.
Try biting into something like a lemon.
Try to focus energy into something positive like exercise, sport or noticing how you breathe.
Try ripping or crumpling paper, could collage the ripped pieces or scribble on them.
Try doing something creative like making play dough models.
Try screaming, breaking sticks, punching pillows.
Try getting out of the house, going to talk to a friend or getting a haircut.
Try solving a puzzle, playing solitare, tetris, minesweeper or snake.
Try setting a target time, for example saying you can harm in 15 minutes, then if you can last, going another 15 minutes.
Try cleaning.
Try thinking in another language.
Try learning something new.

Self nurture
Try taking a hot shower.
Try exercising or going for a walk.
Try drawing on yourself with red pen or paint or dropping red food colouring on the areas you would normally harm.
Try using henna tattoo paste to draw on yourself.
Try creating a mental 'safe place'.""


I think there's a lot of valuable ideas here, lots of which people will have heard of but there's new ones to me. Though biting a lemon seems just like self harm to me!


Well-known member
Founding Member
Mar 17, 2008
I ve had the Lemon suggested to me... I was also given the idea of biting into a chilli! OUCH lol


Well-known member
Jun 28, 2008
Yorkshire, UK
I suppose the lemon (and chilli, I've had that suggested to me too) are still forms of SH but I think they're trying to suggest ways to stop the self harming.
The thinking in a different language is helping me a little at the minute, I'm learning Spanish and I've really got to simplify things and writing my short stories.
Did get a little too stressed last night and I self harmed.:(
Last edited by a moderator:


Well-known member
Mar 6, 2010
I apologize if this has already been posted, but I found this on another site;

What can I do instead of harming when I have urges?

When you have urges, try and do something that will not only distract you, but also ease the urges through a physical or emotional outlet.

Depending on why you want to self harm, you may find these ideas useful.

Physical Release/Sensation:

  • Running / Jogging / Walking
  • Playing a sport
  • Dancing
  • Cool shower
  • Scribbling with a pen
  • Punching a pillow
  • Running hand under cool water
  • Holding ice
  • Jumping up & down
  • Singing loudly to music
Emotional Expression:
  • Writing about how you're feeling
  • -Journal
  • -Ranting
  • -Chat/MSN
  • -Threads
  • Listening/singing to music
  • Talking to someone
  • Calling a helpline
  • Creating something through art/poetry


Looking to keep yourself distracted?
There's a huge list of things here that you can do, give them a shot!
Or pick a number between 1-200 & have a surprise!​

yeah.gif= Immediate Distraction

6.talk to pets?
7.dance with pets?
8.play with pets?
9.poke pets?
10.buy a pet?
11.talk to plants?
12. dance with plants?
13.watch other people and make up life stories for them?
14.sing into your hairbrush?
15.experiment with makeup (even the guys)?
16.do a fashion show for yourself or someone else?
17.stay around other ppl?
18.surf the net?
19.look for stupid pics on google?
20.go onto bored.com?
21.make a cd?
22.listen to music?yeah.gif
23.make a video?
25.sit infront of the mirror and pull faces?
26.change hair style/colour?
27.draw over pretty people in magazines?
28.make a collage of photos?
29.make a collage that represents you (all positive pics plz)?
30.make someone a present?
32.write a letter to someone?
32.reorganise ur cds or videos?
33.make a happy box (put all the things that make you smile into it)?yeah.gif
34.change your room?
35.clean your room?
36.clean the house?
37.go to the gym?
38.read the dictionary?
39.read the bible?
43.learn another language?
44.talk to a friend?yeah.gif
45.phone someone?
46.prank call somone?
47.do the washing up?
48.run around naked?
49.put all the clothes in your wardrobe on and try to walk?
50.jump up and down and see how long you can go for?
51.count upto a million?
52.try out new/different signatures? yeah.gif
53.try writing with your toes?
54.play games on the computer?
55.play games on PS2, X BOX, PS etc?
56.play cards with someone? yeah.gif
57.learn new card tricks?
58.Play solitare?
59.take a bath?
60.take a shower?
61.recreate a scene from a book?
62.pretend to be someone stupid on eastenders?
63.write your own dictionary?
64.write a book?
65.buy a book?
66.see how much gum you can chew at once?
67.make your own board game?
68.say the alphabet backwards three times in a row without mistakes!?
69.Laugh at the number "69" haha!
70.do a wordsearch?
71.make ur own wordsearch?
72.make a little flip book of stick men?
73.go out with friends?
74.go out with family?
75.make a cake?
76.melt kitkats (ummm but be careful)?
77.play an instrument?
78.learn how to play an instrument?
79.Paper aeroplanes?
80.Redecorate some of ur clothes (ask for permission first!)
81.Hug one of ur teddy bears as tightly as poss. until the urges go away?yeah.gif yeah.gif
82.watch the film you hate the most twice?
83.Watch the complete trilogy of Lord Of The Rings? or read the books?
84.Use a red felt tip pen instead?yeah.gif
85.Go shopping?
86.Prepare for the marathon?
87.Go see a show/opera?
88.Throw a party?
89.If you had to organise a party for 100 celebrities what would it be like?
90.Which 100 celebs would you invite?
91.Count how many leaves there are on a tree? (myfav lol)
92.Play footy?
93.Make up your own songs?
94.Pretend to perform them for ur sweetie?
96.Read a thesaurus?
97.Try and find the longest word in the dictionary?
98.Paint your toes different colours?
99.Try and keep smiling for 10 minutes? (it's so hard)
100.Play dares with your friends?

Continued on in the next post...


Well-known member
Mar 6, 2010
101.Pretend it's april fools today!?
102.Write a love letter telling the one you care about most how much they mean to you?
104.Make your own wacky outfit?
105.Go out with ur mates n dare each other to try on whatever you pick out for em?
106.Try and make pictures or faces out of clouds?
107.Try join up all the stars with your finger?
108.Learn what all the stars mean?
109.Make your own quiz on here?
110.Look at photos?
111.See how much u can hole punch a piece of A4 paper?
112.Try and see how many words u can type in 5 minutes?
113.See if u can make a short story with the emoticons on msn?
114.On RYL post to every thread in one section, then do another?
115.Watch everything on one channel on the tele without fallin asleep or gettin up?
116.How long can u go without blinking?
117.Give your guinea pig/hamster/pet rat or mouse a HAIR CUT? (plz be careful....for ur pets sake!)
118.Scan your bum?
119.Scan your bum then print loads of copies and give them to all ur mates or post em thru ppls doors?
120.Write in your diary/journal?
121.Create one online?yeah.gif

122.See how many channels u can go through on the Tele without ur thumb gettin tired?
123.Miss call everyone u have saved in ur mobile? see how many respond
124.Research 'Okapi' on google.com?
125.how how many words you can write in a minute, about anything!?
126.Peel all the white bits off an orange?
127.How much gum can u chew?
128.Sit on the toilet?
129.See how many times you can spin around without being sick?
130.Teach your pet a new trick?
131.how long can u keep ur hands together?
132.how bout counting how many distractions there are on this page then tellin me how many? lol
133.how long can you keep ur eyes closed and not go to sleep?!
134.PM everyone who has helped u sayin thank u? yeah.gif
135.Have a nice bath, listen to some relaxing music?
136. E mail me...or a friend?
137.Kiss everyone around ya?
138.put ur phone on charge?
139.Buy a phone?!
140.Practise dancing?
141.do some cheerleading?
142.practise cheerleading?
143.buy pompoms?
144.play with pompoms?
145.make ur own pompoms?
147.Plan your dream wedding?
148.Plan your dream holiday?
149.Go to a concert?
150.Take photos of anything n see if they coudl mean anything to u?
151.Joy rid a bus?
152.Fall asleep on a bus and see where u end up?
153.Play bop it? thats well cool!
154.Organise a sleep over?
155.Play spin-the-bottle?
156.Learn to play chess?
157.Play chess?
158.Play all the board games you have in the house?
159.Buy the newest type of monolpoly? I believe it's Lord Of The Rings
160.Listen to every CD you own?
161.See how long you can go without sayin anything?
162.What is the wierdest sandwich you can make? AND eat it!
163.Name all the seven dwarfs?
164.Watch every disney film you have?
165.Make up a friendship test, see how well your mates know you?
166.Dress up as the opposite sex? (then take a pic n post it here lol)
167.Do a puzzle?
168.Make your own puzzle?
169.Clean the hover? well the hover normally cleans everything else n 170.doesn't get cleaned itself!
171.Learn to ski?
172.Read your old letters?
173.Design newflip flops?
174.Organise your wadrobe by colour?
175.Go to your nearest farm?
176.See how far you can walk?
177.How many times can you run up and down the stairs?
178.Do your own word association page on paper?
179.Search for stupid stuff on e bay?yeah.gif
180.Blow up big lemonade bottles?
181.How many insects can u count in your garden?
182.How long can you hold a spider for?
183.See how long you can keep jus one eye open for?
184.Eat cheerys from a jar with a toothpick! Try finish them all!
185.Get a mate, one of u dress up as an angel and the other a devil then go round shops telling ppl to buy n not buy certain clothes!
186.See how many songs u can download in 30 minutes?
187.Record urself on a tape n make copies and give them to friends...tell them to listen while they sleep. u can stay stuff like "I'm ur bestest friend in the whole world i deserve lots n lots of presents!"
188.See how many words you can write in a minute?
189.See how many of those words you could write in a minute?
190.make pancakes?
191.eat pancakes?
192.pretend you're a ghost who would you haunt first?
193.make three wishes?
194.make more wishes?
195.cook all types of egg , try them all and see which one you prefer? i bet you tried them all?
196.Write a list of cool places to go on different peices of paper, screw them up and pick one?
197.Paint your fingernails different colours? yeah.gif
198.Send people messages on the net in white font (with white background)?
199.Change your myspace layout!
200. See if I made any number errors :p

Add your own distractions! And..

Keep safe...


Well-known member
Aug 14, 2011
There seems to be a lot of great ideas here. I will definetly try some of them the next time I feel the urge. I also find cross-stitch helps me battle the self-harm urge, as it helps keep my hands pre-occupied, as one of the signs that I'm going to self-harm, is clenching my hands, and feeling the need to do something with my hands.


Well-known member
Aug 25, 2011
Fill a bowl with cold water and ice cubes and stick my face in. It can hurt a bit but it is effective, more effective than holding an ice cube IMO.:)


Nov 29, 2011
I often go for the chilli peppers, helps me feel something on the really bad days when I feel totally empty and numb, plus its supposed to be good for you.


Well-known member
Aug 18, 2012
Hi, I'm new, so hello to all.

This is the first thread I have read and want to thank you all for posting. No doubt I will be on here for hours reading.

I will be printing out these suggestions which will be good to try.

I had a 'breakdown' Jubille weekend. Self harmed (not badly), got doctor out. Since then I have had urges but only SH twice more since then.

It is hard to explain, and I read here how to explain it to your partner. The only way I can explain how i felt is that I get an overwhelming emotional bubble inside of me, and I need to burst it to feel ok again. Although I do feel worse for a while after, it was the only release I got.

I find wrapping myself in a blanket really tightly helps, and cuddling a soft teddy or cushion.
my blanket in fleecey and a have really really soft teddies. Sometimes I just need to hold something soft.

Other things I find helpfull is playing on my android phone. There are so many free games to download.

And using a punch bag. My sister and her bloke put it up for me in our shed, and find that really helps.
I try and workout everyday even if I feel ok, it is a good release to get any kind of exsercise.

Gardening, weeding is another good thing, I hate gardening but started to really enjoy it.

Thanks again for being here. And no doubt I will be posting again.

Vic x

Sorry, forgot to put music, relaxation cds and classical are good especially at night when I want to sleep.
Last edited:


Active member
Oct 10, 2012
i've tried quite a few of them and with the ones that work, i've started to make a scrapbook with a page for soothing things (like a shower with nice smelling products, hot cup of tea, a soothing playlist that i created etc) and a page for distractions (friendship bracelet making, reading a book, watch family guy etc) and things that help when i feel a certain way (i have a squidgy stressball with a smiley face on and orange pompom hair which is very helpful when im feeling anxious) and so now i have the scrapbook to work on too as another distraction. It may seem childish (and mine really does look childish with sequins and stickers and glitter glue) but its something positive to work on :)


Well-known member
Apr 15, 2012
Devon, England
"Try putting a rubber band around a wrist then pinging it when you need to."

This is the one i reconment if someone asks me.. I have used this method a few times.. and it does help..


Mar 12, 2015
Here are some alternatives from Always Lending A Helping Hand
Alternatives for when you’re feeling angry or restless:

Scribble on photos of people in magazines
Viciously stab an orange
Throw an apple/pair of socks against the wall
Have a pillow fight with the wall
Scream very loudly
Tear apart newspapers, photos, or magazines
Go to the gym, dance, exercise
Listen to music and sing along loudly
Draw a picture of what is making you angry
Beat up a stuffed bear
Pop bubble wrap
Pop balloons
Splatter paint
Scribble on a piece of paper until the whole page is black
Filling a piece of paper with drawing cross hatches
Throw darts at a dartboard
Go for a run
Write your feelings on paper then rip it up
Use stress relievers
Build a fort of pillows and then destroy it
Throw ice cubes at the bathtub wall, at a tree, etc
Get out a fine tooth comb and vigorously brush the fur of a stuffed animal (but use gentle vigor)
Slash an empty plastic soda bottle or a piece of heavy cardboard or an old shirt or sock
Make a soft cloth doll to represent the things you are angry at; cut and tear it instead of yourself
Flatten aluminium cans for recycling, seeing how fast you can go
On a sketch or photo of yourself, mark in red INK what you want to do. Cut and tear the picture
Break sticks
Cut up fruits
Make yourself as comfortable as possible
Stomp around in heavy shoes
Play handball or tennis
Yell at what you are breaking and tell it why you are angry, hurt, upset, etc.
Buy a cheap plate and decorate it with markers, stickers, cut outs from magazines, words, images, what ever that expresses your pain and sadness and when you’re done, smash it. (Please be careful when doing this)
The Calm Jar (Fill a mason jar or similar with colored water and glitter. When feeling upset or angry you can shake it to disturb the glitter and focus on that until the glitter settles.)
Blow up a balloon and pop it
Alternatives that will give you a sensation (other than pain) without harming yourself:

Hold ice in your hands, against your arm, or in your mouth
Run your hands under freezing cold water
Snap a rubber band or hair band against your wrist
Clap your hands until it stings
Wax your legs
Drink freezing cold water
Splash your face with cold water
Put PVA/Elmer’s glue on your hands then peel it off
Massage where you want to hurt yourself
Take a hot shower/bath
Jump up and down to get some sensation in your feet
Write or paint on yourself
Arm wrestle with a member of your family
Take a cold bath
Bite into a hot pepper or chew a piece of ginger root
Rub liniment under your nose
Put tiger balm on the places you want to cut. (Tiger balm is a muscle relaxant cream that induces a tingly sensation. You can find it in most health food stores and vitamin stores.)
Alternatives that will distract you or take up time:

Say “I’ll self harm in fifteen minutes if I still want to” and keep going for periods of fifteen minutes until the urge fades
Color your hair
Count up to ten getting louder until you are screaming
Sing on the karaoke machine
Complete something you’ve been putting off
Take up a new hobby
Make a cup of tea
Tell and laugh at jokes
Play solitaire
Count up to 500 or 1000
Surf the net
Make as many words out of your full name as possible
Count ceiling tiles or lights
Search ridiculous things on the web
Colour coordinate your wardrobe
Play with toys, such as a slinky
Go to the park and play on the swings
Call up an old friend
Go “people watching”
Carry safe, rather than sharp, things in your pockets
Do school work
Play a musical instrument
Watch TV or a movie
Paint your nails
Alphabetize your CDs or books
Make origami to occupy your hands
Doodle on sheets of paper
Dress up or try on old clothes
Play COMPUTER games or painting programs, such as photoshop
Write out lyrics to your favorite song
Play a sport
Read a book/magazine
Do a crossword
Draw a comic strip
Make a chain link out of paper counting the hours or days you’ve been self harm free using pretty colored paper
Knit, sew, or make a necklace
Make ‘scoobies’ - braid pieces of plastic or lace, to keep your hands busy
Buy a plant and take care of it
Hunt for things on eBay or Amazon
Browse the forums
Go shopping
Memorize a poem with meaning
Learn to swear in another language
Look up words in a dictionary
Play hide-and-seek with your siblings
Go outside and watch the clouds roll by
Plan a party
Find out if any concerts will be in your area
Make your own dance routine
Trace your hand on a piece of paper; on your thumb, write something you like to look at; on your index finger, write something you like to touch; on your middle finger, write your favorite scent; on your ring finger, write something you like the taste of; on your pinky finger, write something you like to listen to; on your palm, write something you like about yourself
Plan regular activities for your most difficult time of day
Finish homework before it’s due
Take a break from mental processing
Notice black and white thinking
Get out on your own, get away from the stress
Go on YouTube
Make a scrapbook
Colour in a picture or colouring book.
Make a phone list of people you can call for support. Allow yourself to use it.
Pay attention to your breathing (breath slowly, in through your nose and out through your mouth)
Pay attention to the rhythmic motions of your body (walking, stretching, etc.)
Learn HALT signals (hungry, angry, lonely, tired)
Choose a random object, like a paper clip, and try to list 30 different uses for it
Pick a subject and research it on the web - alternatively, pick something to research and then keep clicking on links, trying to get as far away from the original topic as you can.
Take a small step towards a goal you have.
Re-organize your room
Name all of your soft toys
Play the A-Z game (Pick a category ie. Animals, and think of an animal for every letter of the alphabet
Have a lush warm bubble bath with candles!
Do some knitting
Do some house hold chores
Alternatives that are completely bizarre. At the least, you’ll have a laugh:

Crawl on all fours and bark like a dog or another animal
Run around outside screaming
Laugh for no reason whatsoever
Make funny faces in a mirror
Without turning orange, self tan
Pluck your eyebrows
Put faces on apples, oranges, or other sorts of food
Go to the zoo and name all of the animals
Color on the walls
Blow bubbles
Pull weeds in the garden
Alternatives for when you’re feeling guilty, sad, or lonely:

Congratulate yourself on each minute you go without self harming
Draw or paint
Look at the sky
Instead of punishing yourself by self harming, punish yourself by not self harming
Call a friend and ask for company
Buy a cuddly toy
Give someone a hug with a smile
Put a face mask on
Watch a favorite TV show or movie
Eat something ridiculously sweet
Remember a happy moment and relive it for a while in your head
Treat yourself to some chocolate
Try to imagine the future and plan things you want to do
Look at things that are special to you
Compliment someone else
Make sculptures
Watch fish
Youtube funny videos!
Let yourself cry
Play with a pet
Have or give a massage
Imagine yourself living in a perfect home and describe it in your mind
If you’re religious, read the bible or pray
Light a candle and watch the flame (but please be careful)
Go chat in the chat room
Allow yourself to cry; crying is a healthy release of emotion
Accept a gift from a friend
Carry tokens to remind you of peaceful comforting things/people
Take a hot bath with bath oil or bubbles
Curl up under a comforter with hot cocoa and a good book
Make affirmation tapes inside you that are good, kind, gentle (Sometimes you can do this by writing down the negative thoughts and then physically re-writing them into positive messages)
Make a tray of special treats and tuck yourself into bed with it and watch TV or read
Write words in the sand for them to be washed away
Alternatives for when you’re feeling panicky or scared:

“See, hear and feel”-5 things, then 4, then 3 and countdown to one which will make you focus on your surroundings and will calm you down
Listen to soothing music; have a CD with motivational songs that you can listen to
Meditate or do yoga
Name all of your soft toys
Hug a pillow or soft toy
Hyper focus on something
Do a “reality check list” – write down all the things you can list about where you are now (e.g. It is the 9th November 2004, I’m a room and everything is going to be alright)
With permission, give someone a hug
Drink herbal tea
Crunch ice
Hug a tree
Go for a walk if it’s safe to do so
Feel your pulse to prove you’re alive
Go outside and attempt to catch butterflies or lizards
Put your feet firmly on the floor
Accept where you are in the process. Beating yourself up, only makes it worse
Touch something familiar/safeLeave the room
Lay on your back in bed comfortably (eyes closed), and breathe in for 4, hold for 2, out for 4, hold for 2. Make sure to fill your belly up with air, not your chest. If your shoulders are going up, keep working on it. When you’re comfortable breathing, put your hand on your belly and rub up and down in time with your breathing. If your mind wanders to other things, move it back to focusing ONLY on the synchronized movement of your hand and breathing.
Give yourself permission to…. (Keep it safe)
Create a safe place for yourself and take yourself there
Lay on the grass and watch the clouds. You can try to make pictures with them too.
Light a candle and watch the flame
Alternatives that will hopefully make you think twice about harming yourself:

Think about how you don’t want scars
Treat yourself nicely
Remember that you don’t have to hurt yourself just because you’re thinking about self harm
Create a safe place to go
Acknowledge that self harm is harmful behavior: say “I want to hurt myself” rather than “I want to [moderated]”
Repeat to yourself “I don’t deserve to be hurt” even if you don’t believe it
Remember that you always have the choice not to self harm: it’s up to you what you do
Think about how you may feel guilty after self harming
Remind yourself that the urge to self harm is impulsive: you will only feel like self harming for short bursts of time
Avoid temptation
Get your friends to make you friendship bracelets: wear them around your wrists to remind you of them when you want to self harm
Be with other people
Make your own list of things to do instead of self harm
Make a list of your positive character traits
Be nice to your family, who in return, will hopefully be nice to you
Put a band-aid on the area where you’d like to self harm
Recognize and acknowledge the choices you have NOW
Pay attention to the changes needed to make you feel safe
Notice “choices” versus “dilemmas”
Lose the “should-could-have to” words. Try… “What if”
Kiss the places you want toSHor kiss the places you have healing wounds. It can be a reminder that you care about myself and that you don’t want this
Choose your way of thinking, try to resist following old thinking patterns
The Butterfly project- draw a butterfly on the place(s) that you would self harm and if the butterfly fades without self-harming, it means it has lived and flown away, giving a sense of achievement. Whereas if you do self-harm with the butterfly there; you will have to wash it off. If that does happen, you can start again by drawing a new one on. You can name the butterfly after someone you love.
Write the name of a loved one [a friend, family member, or anyone else who cares about you] and write their name where you want to self harm. When you go to self harm remember how much they care and wouldn’t want you to harm yourself.
think about what you would say to a friend who was struggling with the same things you are and try to be a good friend to yourself.
Make a bracelet out duct tape, and put a line on it every day (Or any period of time) you go without self harm. When it’s full of lines, take it off and make a chain out of all the bracelets and hang it up somewhere where you can be reminded of your great progress.
Alternatives that give the illusion of seeing something similar to blood:

Draw on yourself with a red pen or body paint, or go to a site such as this, where you ‘harm’ the screen (be aware that some users may find this triggering, so view with caution)
Cover yourself with plasters where you want to self harm
Give yourself a henna or fake tattoo
Make “wounds” with makeup, like lipstick
Take a small bottle of liquid red food coloring and warm it slightly by dropping it into a cup of hot water for a few minutes. Uncap the bottle and press its tip against the place you want to self harm. Draw the bottle in a cutting motion while squeezing it slightly to let the food color trickle out.
Draw on the areas you want to injure using ice that you’ve made by dropping six or seven drops of red food color into each of the ice-cube tray wells.
Paint yourself with red tempera paint.
'Injure' your skin with nail polish (it feels cold, but it's hard to get off)
Use red food colouring on your skin
Alternatives to help you sort through your feelings:

Phone a friend and talk to them
Make a collage of how you feel
Negotiate with yourself
Identify what is hurting so bad that you need to express it in this way
Write your feelings in a diary
Free write (Write down whatever you’re thinking at that moment, even if it doesn’t make sense)
Make lists of everything such as blessings in your life
Make a notebook of song lyrics that you relate to
Call a hotline
Write a letter to someone telling them how you feel (but you don’t have to send it if you decide not to)
Start a grateful journal where everyday you write down three: good things that happened/ things that you accomplished/ are grateful for/ made you smile. Make sure the journal is strictly for positive things. Then when you feel down you can go back and look at it.

Bodies Under Siege: Self-Mutilation and Body Modification in Culture and Psychiatry By Armando R. Favazza
Bodily Harm: The Breakthrough Healing PROGRAM for Self-Injurers By Karen Conterio
A Bright Red Scream: Self-Mutilation and the Language of Pain By Marilee Strong
Cutting: Understanding and Overcoming Self-Mutilation By Steven Levekron
The Scarred Soul: Understanding & Ending Self-Inflicted Violence By Tracy Alderman
Secret Scars: Uncovering and Understanding the Addiction of Self-Injury By V.J. Turner
Self Injury: Psychotherapy with People Who Engage in Self-Inflicted Violence By Robin Connors
Skin Game: A [moderated] Memoir By Caroline Kettlewell
Women and Self-Harm: Understanding, Coping, and Healing from Self-Mutilation By Gerrilyn Smith
Women Living with Self-Injury By Jane Wegscheider Hyman
Stopping the Pain: A Workbook for Teens Who [moderated] & Self-Injure
Last edited by a moderator:


Jun 13, 2015
Do something slow and soothing, like taking a hot bath with bath oil or bubbles, curling up under a comforter with hot cocoa and a good book, babying yourself somehow. Do whatever makes you feel taken care of and comforted.


Well-known member
Sep 26, 2017
thankyou very much for posting this ... i had a random idea last night to turn to knitting when i feel like self harming .... it's a problem ive had for quite a while but i've not really done enough to try and hel[ myself control this . i will be printing these off.
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