Some people recommend opting for an alternative to pain by creating a more subtle pain that isn’t harmful. Acting in recovery from self-harm means moving toward behaviors that don’t involve hurting yourself, in order to rewire the brain and create new habits.
- Use a shock-behavior to snap out of the feelings: Small behaviors like snapping a rubber band on your wrist, gripping an ice cube fresh out of the freezer, or even splashing some ice cold water on your face (try and ice bath) will shock your system without causing you pain.
- Use a pen to draw on yourself: Many therapists recommend using a pen or marker to draw on the areas you feel like self-harming instead of harming that area. You change your perspective on that part of yourself to be something beautiful you don’t want to hurt instead of something you want to hurt over and over. Use a color that best expresses how you are feeling and try to draw a design that conveys how you want to feel.
- Use art therapy to express your emotions: Art therapy can help you use your hands to create and convey your emotions on paper instead of on your body. Mindfully embrace the motions of using your favorite medium like painting with flow or scribbling with fury. Try making a collage to express how you are feeling inside. It might sound cheesy, but you’ll quickly find you get so enthralled with the art you start to forget about the thoughts of self-harm.
- Use music therapy so someone else can express your emotions: Sometimes expressing your own emotions just isn’t going to happen because they are too confused. It’s okay if you can’t describe or communicate how you are feeling. Thankfully, music therapy is a way to let someone else express how you are feeling through sound and through lyrics.
- Do something physically active to keep your hands busy: Try exercising, crafting, organizing your closet, or something as mindless as brushing your hair to keep your hands moving and your mind focused on another activity.
- Do something physically relaxing to soothe yourself: Yoga, meditation, running, taking a hot shower, relaxing in a bath or asking someone to provide comfort through a huge or loving touch can be soothing. Ultimately, you’re looking for a way to comfort yourself and soothe the obsessive thoughts in your head telling you that the only way to cope is through self-harm.
If you are feeling like you need to self-harm, you are okay. Please call the Self Injury 24 Hour National Crisis Line 1-800-334-HELP.
Recovery from self-harm is a challenging process. LEAD Recovery Center offers transitional care programs which help those in recovery from self-harm create new meaning in life through adventure and nature therapy, building life skills and leadership tools for pioneering a path of autonomy in their recovery. Call us today for information: 714-975-9469