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Self-harm coping techniques

At the point when you want to self-harm, you might feel alone, numb, angry, worthless, unable to control things or just wanting to escape. It can feel like a storm is building up inside - but you don't have to face it alone. Try these coping techniques to help you or a friend. TRIGGER WARNING: This page contains information about self-harm which may be triggering.

Self-harm I want to hurt myself, what can I do?

It often helps to think about the emotion you’re feeling when you want to self-harm. This can help you come up with a different way of dealing with it.

On this page we have information about some of the reasons why people self-harm. Do you identify with any of these? You can use these feelings to help think about new ways to cope:

Feeling alone or isolated?

You could try: talking to someone, writing down how you feel, chatting on our message boards to other young people experiencing self-harm, walking the dog, wrapping a blanket around yourself, meeting up with a friend, or doing some exercise.

Feeling angry?

You could try: punching something like a pillow, doing some exercise, running, screwing up paper and throwing it, snapping twigs, squeezing clay, hitting a rolled up newspaper on a door frame, screaming, crying, or having a cold shower.

Do you feel like you hate yourself or that you’re not good enough (low self-esteem)?

You could try: listening to music, having a bath, burning incense, phoning a friend, writing, painting, or listing good things about yourself.

Do you feel like you can’t control things in your life?

You could try: organising something, cleaning or tidying, solving a puzzle, setting a target time (e.g. saying you won’t harm for 15 minutes, and then if you can last, try another 15 minutes).

Do you feel numb or like a ‘zombie’?

You could try: focusing on something like breathing, being around people who make you feel good, craft activities, make a photo collage, playing an instrument, baking, playing computer games.

Do you feel like you want to escape from your life or a difficult situation?

You could try a hot or cold shower, drawing on the body with red pen, massaging lotion into the places you would normally harm, squeezing ice cubes or biting on lemon for the “shock factor,” or painting nails.

You can talk to ChildLine any time you feel out of control or that you might self-harm. We will be here anytime you feel like hurting yourself and you can talk to us about anything.

My friend is self-harming, how can I help them?

Finding out that someone you care about is self-harming can leave you feeling worried, confused and a bit helpless. But many young people who self-harm get help by talking to someone. There are things you can do to help:

- remember that it may have been really difficult for them to have told you about this and not to judge them for what they are telling you

- listen to how they feel, sometimes just being there for your friend may be what they need

- encourage them to get support with how they are feeling

- look after yourself and make sure that you get support as well

Remember that ChildLine is here to listen whenever you or your friend need us.

It's hard to stop self-harming

Self-harm can be addictive at times and it can become a habit - a way of dealing with difficult emotions.

If some people are not helped to stop self-harming, there is a risk that their self-harm could go too far and cause serious damage or accidental death.

If you are feeling desperate or are considering suicide, ChildLine can help you. You can talk to us about how you feel and we will always listen to you. We can help you to think about what you would like to change in your life so that things can get better, and support you in making those changes happen.

We can also help you plan how to get other support if you want it, including emergency help if your life is in danger. You can speak to a counsellor by calling free on 0800 1111 or through 1-2-1 chat online.

Top 5 ways to cope

    We ran a survey with nearly 4,000 young people and found that some of the best ways to cope with feeling the need to self-harm include:

    - listening to music

    - talking to friends and family

    - writing down how you feel

    - taking deep breaths

    - punching something (like a pillow)

    Read more about the self-harm survey results.

Other sites that can help

Information and advice about mental health
Young Minds

Self-harm: Recovery, advice and support
TheSite.org

Selfharm.co.uk
Selfharm.co.uk

Self-harm coping techniques