How To Gain Coping Mechanisms For Self-Harm

What is Self Harm?

Self-harm is a deliberate act of causing harm to your self. This can be anything from:

  •  Cutting
  • Biting
  • Hair Pulling
  • Hitting
  • Swallowing dangerous items
  • Self-neglect
  • Putting yourself in dangerous situations

Why do people self-harm?

People can self-harm for many reasons. Some of the reasons why they may self-harm are below:

1. To release tension and distress

Some people find that physically harming themselves brings an instant sense of calm and relief from the emotions that they are feeling at that moment in time. By harming themselves this can release the tension and distress that they are feeling.

2. To feel in control

When people feel that in their lives they have little control or even no control, self-harming can be a way of gaining control and keeping control over their lives, especially when other things in their lives seem so out of their control.

3. To punish themselves

For someone with low self-esteem or feelings of guilt, self-harm can be a way of punishing themselves, especially when they feel they deserve the pain they are feeling.

4. To feel something again

When someone has shut down emotionally and become emotionally numb, self-harming can produce a jolt of physical sensation which enables them to interact with their environment again.

5. An expression of emotion

For a person that finds it difficult to talk or for individuals that cannot describe the words about how they feel, self-harming can be a way of expressing their emotions.

6. To try and to kill themselves or deliberately risk death.

The majority of people who self-harm themselves want to stop hurting themselves and use self-harm as a coping mechanism. In order to prevent self-harm, it is important for the person to first identify what triggers them to cut him/her self. Once this is established you can then exchange the coping mechanism for a different coping strategy that is one that will cause less harm and one that will also help you deal with the different emotions that you may be feeling. So what strategies could you use once you have figured out why you self-harm.

So if you’re self-harming because you need to express your feelings, instead of cutting yourself, you could:

  • Write a journal to express your feelings
  • Write your feelings in a song or a poem
  • Paint or draw a picture
  • Mark yourself with a red pen where you would normally cut yourself

If you are self-harming to calm and soothe yourself, instead of self-harming you could:

  • Take a warm shower or bath
  • Wrap yourself up in a warm blanket
  • Hug a pillow or a pet
  • Listen to calm music
  • Watch a feel-good movie

If you are self-harming because you are feeling disconnected or numb then you can:

  • Take a cold shower
  • Eat something spicy
  • Rub an ice cube over where you would harm yourself

If you are self-harming to release tension or to vent anger you could;

  • Exercise vigorously
  • Punch a cushion or mattress
  • Squeeze a stress ball
  • Rip up sheets of paper

So as you can see there are multiple ways that you can manage yourself harm but the key to this is finding out why you are self-harming in the first place because it is only with this awareness that you can then do something about this to help you to conquer your needs. Talking to someone is a great way to help you find out the reasons why you might self-harm.