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:

  • Try out new activities with our coping kit
  • 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.

Coping with Self-Harm ft. Luke Cutforth