Coping Strategies

Self Help

There are lots of ways you can work towards finding different ways of managing your self harm urges. Our coping strategies booklet has a wide range of techniques you could try. It is worth remembering that not all strategies work for all people, and the same coping strategy might not work for every self harm urge you experience - finding different ways of managing is a process, and can often be trial and error.

If you can recognise the triggers or thoughts involved in the build up to self-harm, you may be able to use alternative coping strategies before the urge gets too strong.

Try asking yourself the following questions.

  • Why do I feel I need to hurt myself? What has happened that I feel like this?
  • Have I felt like this before? How did I come out the other side the last time? Can I do that again now?
  • Is there anything else I can do to get rid of this feeling that doesn’t mean I will hurt myself?
  • How does self-harming make you feel? If it makes you feel in control, think of things you could do to get the same feeling but without hurting yourself

If the urges feel overwhelming, here are some things to do before you self-harm.

  • Remind yourself:
  • I’ve been though painful situations before and I survived
  • I am strong enough to get through this
  • This is a horrible feeling but it will go away
  • Write down things you like about yourself and why you want to stop self-harming so you can review it at times you’re feeling low
  • The 15-minute rule – if you’re feeling the urge to self-harm, give yourself 15 minutes before you do. Distract yourself by going for a run or writing down your feelings. When the time’s up, see if you can extend it by another 15 minutes. Try to keep going until the urge subsides.
  • Visualisation - try to picture the urge as an emotional wave you can surf. Imagine it reaching a crescendo then breaking as you successfully resist its force