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TW: Alternatives to Self-Harm

Finding alternatives to self-harm that are effective can be really difficult. Although self-harm is undoubtably destructive, it is still a coping mechanism. An alternative coping mechanism will only work if it helps you cope in a similar way.


Here is a list of alternatives for some of the common reasons behind self-harm:

If you want to mimic physical pain:

  • Eating something sour or spicy.
    • Warheads seem to be a common choice.
  • Running or exercising intensely.
  • Holding an ice cube or an icepack.
  • Cold showers.

If you want an emotional release:

  • Yell, cry, scream.  
  • Let the emotion overwhelm you completely but don’t act on the impulses it may cause (highly recommend making your area as safe as possible before doing this).
  • Listen to music or watch a movie that triggers emotions.

If you want a sense of destruction or to let out frustration:

  • Ripping up paper.
  • Breaking or throwing inconsequential things.
  • Punching a pillow.
  • Kneading playdough or bread dough.
  • Pulling out grass or weeds.

If you want to reconnect with your body:

  • Grounding exercises:
    • Meditation.
    • Sensory activities.
    • Standing barefoot in the grass.
  • Being around family or friends.


It’s important to create a plan before you are distressed as it can be very hard to think clearly when overwhelmed. Try to make the activities as specific and tailored to you as possible. There’s no point having a safety plan that you ignore! 


What are some of the unique alternatives you use to manage self-harm urges?


Ice Cream Good Work GIF by Chibird

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