The Mighty Logo

6 Practical Alternatives to Self-Harm

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

I struggle daily with the urge to self-harm. When I self-harm, it’s usually to experience feelings physically instead of mentally. I have borderline personality disorder, which causes me to feel emotions to an extreme, making them overwhelming and unpleasant. Here are some alternatives to self-harm that are fairly practical and much safer:

1. Throwing soft things. Self-harm can be a very physical and violent act. Throwing soft things (my favorite is rolled up socks) is a controlled physical action, and as long as you’re just throwing them at the wall, it’s not going to hurt anything.

2. Holding ice. Whether it’s an ice cube or an ice pack, ice is a great and safe way to feel a sensation on your skin. Sometimes I just hold it in my hand, other times I place it on the area I’m feeling the urge to harm.

3. Crying. This one is a little tougher to achieve. I hate crying in general, but I feel so much better after I do. I especially dislike crying just for the sake of crying, so my therapist suggested watching a sad movie to channel the tears.

4. Scribbling on paper. Sometimes, scribbling as hard as you can to fill up an entire page is not only therapeutic, but exhausting, too! You get your feelings out and you wear yourself out in the process. Take a break — you earned it!

5. Tearing paper. Tearing paper is a very satisfying feeling. You get the destructive sensation without the lasting effects like those from self-harming.

6. Writing. Writing has always been my favorite release for pent up emotions. When you write, you can say whatever you anything you want. Then you have the control to do whatever you want with it: share it or not, reread it or not, tear it up or not.

What helps you when you’re fighting self-harm urges?

GettyImages via Grandfailure

Originally published: November 19, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home