Alternatives To Self Harm: 6 Steps To Fight The Urge

When a painful or emotional thought overrides one’s senses, people with a history of self-harming tend to lose control. 

Even if the intention is not to harm, one wrong move can still lead to a lifetime of guilt. Hence, it is best to find alternatives to self harm and prepare beforehand.

Self harm is usually done to distract oneself from emotional or physical pain. Anxiety, depression, and loneliness are some factors that induce self harm tendencies. 

People Self Harm to-

  • Regain control
  • Break the loop of thought
  • Distract and trick the mind into physical hurt.

There is a serious risk involved when one is in a state of self harm as it can lead to life-threatening injuries or cause lifelong pain. A cut in the wrong direction can lead to losing too much blood if not attended immediately.

Guilt is a prevalent feeling in such situations, leading one to hesitate to reach out to friends and family when in need. To kill the urge to self harm, you should be prepared with alternatives to self harm.

alternatives to self harm
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How To Deal With It?

Long story short, just talk! If you’re facing difficulty communicating with your family and friends, there is plenty of help available in the form of counselors. Talk to someone who is an expert in handling such situations. 

Call for help, talk to a health professional and seek advice from them.

This will bring temporary relief, but you should first start identifying your emotions to prepare for such situations.

alternatives to self harm
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1. Get To Know Yourself, Peep Inside

Take a tab on your mental health. Identify the emotions boiling inside. Ask yourself what bothers you. The answer can help you arrive at alternatives to self harm.

Now that you know what bothers you, working on it will be easier.

If You Are Feeling Angry

Take it out. Punch a pillow or a punching bag, tire yourself with strenuous exercise.

If You Are Engulfed With Loneliness

Call the person you are closest to. It could be your dad, mom, or a friend who understands you.

Put on your favorite TV show, or watch something cheerful like Tom and Jerry. These are healthy alternatives to self harm that can help you escape loneliness.

If You Are Feeling Numb

The best solution to this is to eat something spicy, like a raw chili. In a minute, your whole system will come back to life.

If You Feel Like Crying

Never put on a sad song, it will only make the feeling more intense. Try something opposite of the emotion, such as dancing to the beats of a party song.

Discover the origin of the problem, identify the type of emotion you are feeling, and opt for something opposite to it. This is one of the best alternatives to self harm in this scenario.

2. Change Your Daily Routine

alternatives to self harm
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Nothing can be as awful as losing yourself. The best way to prevent this is to prepare a better life for yourself. Start afresh, change your diet, start working out. These are the ideal alternatives to self harm.

Coordinate With Your System

If you are a night owl who sleeps till the afternoon, you need to reconsider. Discarding old bad habits adopting a healthy lifestyle will open better alternatives to self harm.

As the sun goes down, the darkness triggers melatonin secretion, which stimulates the sleeping effect. This is when the body recharges. When you sleep, your brain triggers full-body detoxification and releases the stress of the day.

When you stay up at night, you are not cooperating with your body functioning. This results in irritation, confusion, or distraction and triggers self-harming thoughts in a person who has a history of self-harming.

Adopt A Healthy Activity

Yoga, exercise, gym, or even walking are helpful alternatives to self harm. Yoga connects you spiritually and helps induce peace and calmness. Each asana has a different effect on your physical and mental well-being, which can help you stay away from bad thoughts.

Similar effects are observed in gym-goers. Having a goal motivates you to work for it, shifting your focus to a healthier diet and lifestyle. The change in your body will reflect in your soul, and leaving self-harming thoughts will be easier.

Walking is the best alternative if you hate the gym or can’t do yoga. Wake up early and go for long walks close to nature. When you see the rising sun shining upon you or a group of birds circling the sky, you realize this is a great way to welcome the day.

Start your day with the morning breeze, engulfing the beauty of nature. This will bring physical wellness, inner pleasure, and a renewed interest to consider alternatives to self harm tendencies.


alternatives to self harm
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Meditation is an experimented technique to acquire good mental health. It gives the mind a chance to calm down while giving full attention to its concerns.

Go to a calm park, close your eyes and listen to the voices of gushing wind, chirping birds, and humming bees. If you live in a metropolitan city and can’t find such a calm place, go for meditation music to focus on yourself for a while.

Meditating daily will calm the mind, and gradually, you will feel back in place.

Have Pleasant Thoughts

alternatives to self harm
Image by 红 刘 from Pixabay

Humans tend to remember their departed loved ones with sad memories. This is the primary cause of pain. Not everything is permanent in life, not even the bad days. Keep this in mind as each day to live a happy and content life.

Cherish the good days, remember the fun moments, and take a journey to your happiest moment. The human mind creates a memory while learning or reminding something repetitively. We generally remember bad days and thereby create associated memories. Replacing this with good memories and ponder over the best moments of your life, the best people you have come across. 

Over time, you will forget bad memories and learn to focus on the brighter side.

3. Give It A Try

alternatives to self harm
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Redirecting and channelizing emotions is very important while dealing with self-harming thoughts. Art is a form of expression that has an individualistic approach. It reflects the artist’s soul.

There must have been something you were interested in but never pursued due to certain situations. Give it a try now. Discover your alternatives to self harm through activities of interest.

  • If you love painting, do it. Let your emotions out through your art, shape it and face it.
  • Try pottery if you’ve never done it before. Pottery requires a high level of concentration. The more concentrated you are, the better your pot would pan out. This distracts you from your self-harming tendencies.
  • Sculpting is a great form of art. It requires you to indulge completely, taking your mind off the loop of thoughts. Art is one of the greatest alternatives to self harm tendencies.

If pursuing any of these is not possible at the moment, write down your feelings. Journalling is a great way to let your emotions out, giving you the feeling of talking to another person. 

4. Coping Mechanisms

Professionals recommend minimization and grounding techniques as other alternatives to self harm to avoid big episodes.

For some people, even these don’t satisfy the urge as their minds can’t be tricked for other alternatives to self harm.

People with minimal symptoms can avoid the self-harming urges through these coping mechanisms.

  • Holding ice for too long
  • Punching a bag
  • Having a first aid ready

5. Other Alternatives To Self Harm

  • Scream into a pillow
  • Use a stress ball
  • Throw rocks on the wall or into a river/pond
  • Cook a meal
  • Ride a bicycle
  • Take deep breaths
  • Draw on your hand
  • Rearrange your cupboard
  • Take out an old album of photos
  • Paint your wall and decorate
  • Call your closest family member or friend
  • Trim your garden
  • Take out your old clothes or toys and hand them out
  • Listen to music, make a playlist of your favorite songs
  • Watch your favorite cartoons from childhood
  • Visit an orphanage or a nursing home
  • Volunteer for activities like cleaning or planting trees
  • Color your hair or change its look
  • Dress up and go for dinner
  • Make new friends, pen-pals, or go for a date
  • Snap a rubber band
  • Blow up balloons
  • Write letters and post them
  • Go for long walks
  • Adopt a Pet

6. Take Professional Help

If pursuing any of these isn’t helping, you should consider professional help without second thoughts. Unlike other alternatives to self harm, seeking expert help is the best solution for long-term betterment. 

Not taking action on your self-harming thoughts will only lead to a more disastrous future. Seeking psychological therapy tops the alternatives to self harm as it will direct you to a better state of mind. 

These coping strategies are not permanent as, ultimately, your perspective needs to be changed. So, getting help is of utmost importance. Life is the most beautiful thing one can ever ask for, so don’t shy away from seeking help to enjoy your life to the fullest.

Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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