Alternatives To Self Harm: 6 Steps To Fight The Urge of it.

alternatives to self harm
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While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.


When a painful emotion overrides one’s senses, people with a history of self-harming tend to lose control, which might lead them to look for alternatives to self harm.

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 and mental pain. Anxiety, depression, and loneliness are some factors that induce self-harm tendencies. When a person is alone and going through anxiety or depression, their mind constantly shouts unwanted thoughts. To stop all those thoughts, they consider self-harm.

If you are having self-harm or suicidal thoughts, urgently get help from a professional. If you know someone who is having suicidal thoughts visit this helpline.

People Self Harm to:

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

There is a severe risk involved when one is in a habit of self-harm or causing self-injury as it can lead to life-threatening injuries or cause lifelong pain. A cut in the wrong direction can lead to the loss of too much blood, especially if the wound is not attended to immediately.

Guilt is the most prevalent feeling in a situation like this; one feels ashamed of themself, which leads them to hesitate when it comes to reaching out to friends and family when in need. Although having thoughts of self-harm is not an insignificant matter.

If you are conscious enough and you feel the prickle of anxiety, try to reach out to friends, family, or to your other loved ones right when you start having self-harm or self-injury thoughts; still, if you can’t for some reason, then 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 Self-harming Thoughts?

Long story short, just talk! Suppose you’re facing difficulty communicating with your family and friends. In that case, 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.

Even if you haven’t been having self-harm thoughts, but you had in the past, and you harmed yourself, you should be prepared well for those situations. 

You might be wondering What are some alternative ways to self-harm? What are some safe alternatives to self harm? What are alternatives to cutting yourself? How can I stop myself from doing self-harm? Well put your mind to rest, we are gonna answer all your questions.

1. Get To Know Yourself, Peep Inside

Take a tab on your mental health. Identify the bad, overwhelming feelings boiling inside. Ask yourself what bothers you. Ask yourself what thoughts are leading to self-harm, what memories are triggering self-harm thoughts, what about it is bothering you, and at what time of the day these kinds of thoughts are the most prevalent. 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. Exercising and working out can be a great alternative to self-harm. Punch a pillow or a punching bag, and tire yourself out with strenuous exercise.

Exercise helps your muscle and brings muscle pain, which will get the exercise to help you calm your mind. You just have to get the anger within you to shower on some nonliving thing.

People have found breaking things helpful in this anger. So take something out from your storeroom which is not useful anymore.

Break it, beat it, crush it, let your anger be unleashed on it. This really helps when you are angry and thinking of harming yourself, but do not break something that is useful as it might cost you a good amount of money. 

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. As we talk up there, talking out the feelings and emotions will significantly help.

If you feel lonely, talking to the person closest to you among all the people you know can help break the chain of thoughts. 

loneliness girl is sitting on the floor with toy/bezikus via Depositphotos

Put on your favorite TV show, or watch something cheerful like Tom and Jerry. Watching colorful and cheerful content can help you with your loneliness but beware, that do not watch movies and tv shows that are dark, horror, thriller, or disturbing as they can feed into your loneliness and anxiety.

Watching Comedy, cheerful shoes, your favorite movie tv show, and child cartoon are healthy alternatives to self-harm that can help you escape loneliness. 

If You Are Feeling Numb

It happens with us all that we feel numb, like unable to move just because our mind doesn’t want to move. This numbness is common among people with anxiety and depression.

If you feel numb, you can try some rock music, some energetic music, and try to dance to that music. The best solution is to eat something spicy, like 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 intensify the feeling. Try something opposite of the emotion, such as dancing to the beats of a party song.

While you feel like crying over a problem, it’s better to cry out than hold in. Don’t hold your tears. Cry it out. This will make you feel better. Because if you try too hard to hold your tears and refuse to cry, you may think of harming yourself to overthrow the sadness with pain. 

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. To control yourself. To save yourself from drowning. Start afresh, change your diet, and 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 and adopting a healthy lifestyle will open better alternatives to self-harm.

As the sun goes down, the darkness triggers melatonin secretion, stimulating the sleeping effect. This is when the body recharges. When you sleep, your brain triggers full-body detoxification and releases the day’s stress. So having a proper sleep routine is essential for a healthy lifestyle. 

When you stay up at night, you are not cooperating with your body functioning. Your body cannot detoxify itself without all the body parts and brain rest.

This results in irritation, confusion, or distraction and triggers self-harming thoughts in a person who has a history of self-harming. Normally staying awake for a night won’t trigger this kind of thought. Still, if you are suffering from anxiety, depression, or have self-harmed in the past, it’s highly advisable to have a good night’s sleep. 

Adopt A Healthy Activity

Yoga, exercise, gym, or even walking are practical alternatives to self-harm. Yoga connects you spiritually and helps induce peace and calmness.

Doing yoga and meditation helps you to break the chain of thoughts and help you in reducing anxiety. 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.

As your body starts to get better and healthy, your mind eventually starts to get healthy. When you are gyming, your mind does not have time for unwanted thoughts, reducing your overthinking.

The change in your body will reflect in your soul, and getting rid of 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. Hanging out in the lap of nature is always considered therapy as you are among God’s creations.

When you take a walk to the park in the morning, you feel the highly fresh air. You feel the bliss of the morning light on your face. You breathe clean oxygen. All these things calm your mind. 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.

When you start your day with a cold shower, the morning breeze, engulfing the beauty of nature, this will bring physical wellness, inner pleasure, and a renewed interest in considering alternatives to self-harm.

Have a routine for meditation

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. It is proven to be one of the most helpful ways for people to deal with depression and anxiety.

Depression and anxiety are the children of your mind’s chaos; meditation kills that chaos and calms your mind for good. Meditation is not a difficult thing. You don’t have to do any physical exercise. You just have to be consistent. In meditation, you focus on your breathing and use your sound sense.

Go to a quiet 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 a calm place, try meditation music to focus on yourself for a while.

Meditation music can be beneficial as the vibrations in that music heal your mind and calms your mind. You just have to focus on each string that rings in the music. And have to kill all the other thoughts invading your mind.

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

Increase the frequency of Having Pleasant Thoughts

alternatives to self harm
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Humans tend to remember their departed loved ones with sad memories. This is the primary cause of pain. You are hanging onto the things that made you feel terrible, that hurt you in the past. And because of that, you are hurting yourself in the present as well.

Not everything is permanent in life, not even the bad days. Keep this in mind 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 remembering something repetitively.

If you have a person who is no longer in your life, and if their absence is the reason behind all the anxiety and depression, and loneliness, you have to forget all the bad memories related to that person.

Try recalling good memories that you spent with that person. Cherish those moments. Smile for the time you were together.

We generally remember bad days and thereby create associated memories. Replace 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. Try out things that you wanted to but couldn’t

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 or self-injury through activities of interest. As you pursue that something of yours, you are diverting your mind to something that makes you feel good from the things making you have thoughts of self-harm.

Distraction is the best way to avoid the urge to self-harm. After all, you are harming yourself to distract your mind from the Emotional and mental pain. Now you have to distract yourself from the thoughts of self-harm.

As you pursue your artistic voyage, your mind gets distracted. You continue pursuing it; your mind forgets the self-harming thoughts. So use art and your interests to be a distraction from your depression, anxiety, loneliness, and self-harm thoughts.

  • If you love painting, do it. Let your emotions out through your art, shape them and face them.
  • 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 an excellent 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 or self-injury 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 alternatives to self-harm to avoid significant episodes. If you have a history of self-harming, you should be trying this way.

You have to keep one thought in mind that you will do anything to not self-harm. You will first try all the other methods mentioned in this article; if you still have the urge to self-harm, try to consult a professional. And if it’s not possible, you are suggested to consider this all. 

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

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

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

Holding ice and punching a bag is ok to calm your mind, but if it’s not working, you keep the first aid in front of you. It may make you think about how much it will hurt you. Because of that, you may ditch the idea of self-harm.

5. Other alternatives to consider instead of harming yourself.

  • 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 the help of a Professional

If pursuing any of these isn’t helping, you should consider professional help without a second thought. Unlike other alternatives to self-harm, seeking expert help is the best solution for long-term betterment. Seeking professional help will help you get rid of these kinds of thoughts from your mind for good.

VitalikRadko via Depositphotos

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 because 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 it to the fullest.

Acupuncture is an alternative medicine that helps with many diseases. If no other treatment works for concern, there is no harm in trying it. Click here to know acupuncture’s benefits for anxiety.

While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. -----------------------------------

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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