Self-harm coping techniques

Self-harm can feel like a way of dealing with difficult feelings. But we can help you find other ways to cope and feel better. 
Trigger warning: this page contains information about self-harm which may bring up difficult feelings.

COPINg with feelings about self-harm

When something happens or you’re feeling emotions that make you want to self-harm it can be really difficult. But we can help you find other ways to cope and feel more in control.  

Take a look at some of the ideas on this page - from our counsellors and from other young people -  and try the ones which sound like they could work for you. Remember, you can always talk to one of our counsellors for help and support.

Why not try...

Drawing a butterfly where you'd normally hurt yourself. Use it to remind yourself not to self-harm and to keep trying.

If you do self-harm, you can wash it off and start again. But if you manage to keep going until it fades, it means the butterfly has flown away.

Things that can help:

  • listening to music
  • talking to friends or family
  • writing down or drawing how you feel
  • exercising and getting outdoors
  • use our Wall of expression game to let go of difficult feelings.

Watch: Moving on from self-harm

Coping tips from you

Girl listening to music

  • "All I can say is get a stress ball. They’re really good for punching and taking your anger out on them. also, if you feel terrible, try screaming into your pillow- this seems to help but use a couple of pillows to stop the sound."

  • "Another thing, don't be afraid to cry. Crying shows pain just as much as self-harm, but it's less dangerous."
  • "I also self-harm, and a main reason for anyone to is that they're bottling up their feelings, like me. I highly recommend finding a hobby, whether it be video games, art, poetry or anything else and express your feelings through that."

What to do if you're feeling:

Getting help

Lots of young people tell us that talking about what’s happening has helped them to cope with their self-harm. If you’re struggling to cope alone or you want support, then we can help.

Why not try:

It’s important to talk to your doctor or school nurse  if you’re ever worried about an injury from self-harm. In an emergency, you should always call 999.

many thoughts
to cope

Get support coping with self-harm

How can I help a friend who self-harms?

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 self-harming, so try not to judge them
  • 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're feeling
  • look after yourself and make sure that you get support as well.

Remember that Childline counsellors are here to listen whenever you or your friend needs to talk.