6 Easy Distractions You Can Use To Stop The Urge To Self-harm
Self-harming or self-injury is a coping mechanism that could alleviate your extreme emotional distress to a certain extent, however it has many undesirable outcomes. The urge to hurt yourself is usually born out of trauma or a deep-rooted sense of powerlessness.
Myths on Self-harm
Oftentimes, people tend to have misconceptions about people who do acts of self-harm. Such as:
- Seeking attention or sympathy
- Doing it out of spite
- Being overly sensitive or dramatic
- Doing it to manipulate someone
However, individuals who self-injure are fragile emotionally and very much sensitive to rejection. When they experience overwhelming emotions, they tend to convert their invisible pain to a visible form so that it is easier for them to deal with it. Inflicting self-harm may give you safe heaven which does not last long.
As a result, you may get caught up in a brutal cycle of performing the act continuously and be preoccupied with thoughts of it even when not engaging in the process.
Recognize the emotion behind it.
Start by noticing what situations are likely to arouse your compulsion to commit the act. Having a clear idea of the emotion behind the urge can help you to find alternative ways to cope with it. For example, anger could be one of the reasons for self-harm, and to overcome this intense emotion you can engage in physical activities such as sports. Commit to yourself that you will not be controlled by the desire to perform the act and will do something else instead.
Activities you may try when you experience the urge to perform the act.
Change your environment
Getting away from a familiar environment can serve as a distraction from the urge to self-harm. Wandering around nature or stopping by at your favourite place where you may feel at peace will give enough time to be away from triggers and subside your impulse to harm yourself.
Doing physical activities
Physical activities such as gym workouts serve as a distraction to control your intense emotions and lift your spirits. Strenuous physical activities will help you to release some of those pent-up feelings harmlessly. Some might not prefer intense workout sessions. That being said, you may try out activities such as simple dance, yoga, and meditation. Tutorials for such activities are readily available on social media such as Youtube and TikTok.
Talking to someone
Getting support from your family and friends, or even a counselor, can help you to prevent yourself from self-harm to a certain extent. Opening up how you feel to someone may not be easy but with help of someone who offers support without judgment will make it easier to deal with the urge to self-harm. If you feel uncomfortable sharing specific details, you can always ask for help in a general manner.
Listening to music
Listening to your favorite playlist may halt the urge to self-harm long enough to sort out your emotions and find other ways to cope with them. Some of the music that you can listen to is energetic music that will make you want to work out, classical music, nature sounds, or any type of calming music which are readily available on Youtube, Spotify, or Pandora.
The type of music you choose is important because it helps you to process your emotions. If the music that aligns with your emotion intensifies your distress feelings, you may try other options such as audiobooks or podcasts.
Engaging in creative activities
Art is another way to divert your urge to self-harm. It also serves as a way to process painful emotions. Whenever you feel like wanting to harm yourself, you can devote your attention to creative activities that utilize your skills. The freedom to express yourself in such activities will give you a sense of control. By doing that, you will be able to transform your distressed emotion into a physical form in a more safe way. Some of the creative activities that you can involve yourself in are drawing, painting, doodling, and sculpting.
Involving yourself in religious activities
Some of the past research suggests that religious activities have a positive influence on one’s mental health. Taking part in religious activities can help you to gain more social networks where you can get more emotional and social support from them. Some of these religious activities may give a sense of respite from intense feelings, provide calmness and peace.
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- Klonsky, E., Victor, S., & Saffer, B. (2014). Nonsuicidal Self-Injury: What We Know, and What We Need to Know. The Canadian Journal Of Psychiatry, 59(11), 565-568. https://doi.org/10.1177/070674371405901101
- Raypole, C., & Legg, T. (2021). Self harm alternatives: 7 Techniques that actually work. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/self-harm-alternatives#be-creative.
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