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Coping Strategies

People self harm for different reasons. It may be to deal with difficult feelings or to give someone release or escape. Some may find the physical pain of self harm distracts them from the emotional pain they are feeling. For some they may need to self harm to let other people know how they are feeling. Others may feel it is the only way to feel in control of their body or to punish themselves because they feel guilty.

Learning of different ways to cope with these feelings can help in stopping the urge to self harm.
Beating the urge to self-harm can be an uphill struggle. You may have to work hard to start using different ways of dealing with difficult feelings. But doing this is an important step towards recovery.

Some people may find distraction or coping techniques one way to help delay or avoid self-harm. You need to find out what coping strategies work for you. You will need to have a few different strategies you can use depending on how you are feeling. The same technique may not work for every time.

It may be helpful to match your coping strategy with how you are feeling. For example, you may want to do something that comforts you if you feel low or release energy if you feel angry.

Our service has developed a coping strategies booklet that offers support, guidance and ideas on different ways of managing your self harming urges (see below).


Gloucestershire Council
Care Quality Commission

Gloucestershire Self Harm helpline is a partnership between Rethink Mental Illness and Gloucestershire County Council.

Rethink Mental Illness is a registered charity in the UK. Registered in England Number 1227970. Registered Charity Number 271028.