Amy said 3 years, 4 months ago:

Angry, frustrated, restless:

Try something physical and violent, something not directed at a living thing:

Slash an empty plastic soda bottle or a piece of heavy cardboard or an old shirt or sock.
Make a soft cloth doll to represent the things you are angry at. Cut and tear it instead of yourself.
Flatten aluminium cans for recycling, seeing how fast you can go.
Hit a punching bag.
Use a pillow to hit a wall, pillow-fight style.
Rip up an old newspaper or phone book.
On a sketch or photo of yourself, mark in red ink what you want to do. Cut and tear the picture.
Make Play-Doh or Sculpey or other clay models and cut or smash them.
Throw ice into the bathtub or against a brick wall hard enough to shatter it.
Break sticks.
Draw something (you can use this website, this one or this one)
Crank up the music and dance.
Clean your room (or your whole house).
Go for a walk/jog/run.
Stomp around in heavy shoes.
Play handball or tennis.
Pop bubble wrap
Scribble on photos of people in magazines.
Viciously stab an orange.
Pop balloons
Beat up a stuffed bear
Go to the gym, dance, exercise
Tear apart newspapers, photos, or magazines
Scream very loudly
Use this to try to relax yourself.
Yell at what you are breaking and tell it why you are angry, hurt, upset, etc.
Buy a cheap plate and decorate it with markers, stickers, cut outs from magazines, words, images, what ever that expresses your pain and sadness and when you’re done, smash it. (Please be careful when doing this)
Click on this or this to listen to sounds that might help you calm yourself.
Splatter paint.
Scribble on a piece of paper until the whole page is black.
Write your feelings on paper then rip it up.

Sad, soft, melancholy, depressed, unhappy:

Do something slow and soothing, like taking a hot bath with bath oil or bubbles, curling up under a comforter with hot cocoa and a good book, babying yourself somehow. Do whatever makes you feel taken care of and comforted. Light sweet-smelling incense. Listen to soothing music. Smooth nice body lotion into the parts or yourself you want to hurt. Call a friend and just talk about things that you like. Make a tray of special treats and tuck yourself into bed with it and watch TV or read. Visit a friend.

Congratulate yourself on each minute you go without self harming
Draw or paint
Look at the sky
Instead of punishing yourself by self harming, punish yourself by not self harming
Call a friend and ask for company
Buy a cuddly toy
Give someone a hug with a smile
Use this to write about how you feel and let your emotions out (you’ll calm down)
Put a face mask on
Watch a favorite TV show or movie
Eat something ridiculously sweet
Remember a happy moment and relive it for a while in your head
Treat yourself to some chocolate
Try to imagine the future and plan things you want to do
Look at things that are special to you
Compliment someone else
Make sculptures
Watch fish
Youtube funny videos!
Let yourself cry
Play with a pet
Have or give a massage
Imagine yourself living in a perfect home and describe it in your mind
If you’re religious, read the bible or pray
Light a candle and watch the flame (but please be careful)
Go chat in the chat room
Allow yourself to cry; crying is a healthy release of emotion
Accept a gift from a friend
Carry tokens to remind you of peaceful comforting things/people
Take a hot bath with bath oil or bubbles
Curl up under a comforter with hot cocoa and a good book
Make affirmation tapes inside you that are good, kind, gentle (Sometimes you can do this by writing down the negative thoughts and then physically re-writing them into positive messages)
Make a tray of special treats and tuck yourself into bed with it and watch TV or read
Write words in the sand for them to be washed away

Numb, unreal, craving sensation/pain, dissociating:

Do something that creates a sharp physical sensation:

Squeeze ice hard (this really hurts). (Note: putting ice on a spot you want to burn gives you a strong painful sensation and leaves a red mark afterward, kind of like burning would.)
Bite into a hot pepper or chew a piece of ginger root.
Rub liniment under your nose.
Slap a tabletop hard.
Snap your wrist with a rubber band.
Take a cold bath.
Stomp your feet on the ground.
Focus on how it feels to breathe. Notice the way your chest and stomach move with each breath.
Run your hands under freezing cold water
Clap your hands until it stings
Wax your legs
Drink freezing cold water
Splash your face with cold water
Put PVA/Elmer’s glue on your hands then peel it off
Massage where you want to hurt yourself
Take a hot shower/bath
Jump up and down to get some sensation in your feet
Write or paint on yourself
Arm wrestle with a member of your family
Bite into a hot pepper or chew a piece of ginger root
Put tiger balm on the places you want to cut. (Tiger balm is a muscle relaxant cream that induces a tingly sensation. You can find it in most health food stores and vitamin stores.)

Note: Some people report that being online while dissociating increases their sense of unreality; be cautious about logging on in a dissociative state until you know how it affects you.

Wanting focus:

Do a task (a computer game like tetris or minesweeper, writing a computer program, needlework, etc) that is exacting and requires focus and concentration.
Eat a raisin mindfully. Pick it up, noticing how it feels in your hand. Look at it carefully; see the asymmetries and think about the changes the grape went through. Roll the raisin in your fingers and notice the texture; try to describe it. Bring the raisin up to your mouth, paying attention to how it feels to move your hand that way. Smell the raisin; what does it remind you of? How does a raisin smell? Notice that you’re beginning to salivate, and see how that feels. Open your mouth and put the raisin in, taking time to think about how the raisin feels to your tongue. Chew slowly, noticing how the texture and even the taste of the raisin change as you chew it. Are there little seeds or stems? How is the inside different from the outside? Finally, swallow.
Choose an object in the room. Examine it carefully and then write as detailed a description of it as you can. Include everything: size, weight, texture, shape, color, possible uses, feel, etc.
Choose a random object, like a paper clip, and try to list 30 different uses for it.
Pick a subject and research it on the web.

Wanting to see blood, scars, or pick scabs:

Use this website to simulate a cut.
Draw on yourself with a red felt-tip pen.
Take a small bottle of liquid red food coloring and warm it slightly by dropping it into a cup of hot water for a few minutes. Uncap the bottle and press its tip against the place you want to cut. Draw the bottle in a cutting motion while squeezing it slightly to let the food color trickle out.
Draw on the areas you want to cut using ice that you’ve made by dropping six or seven drops of red food color into each of the ice-cube tray wells.
Paint yourself with red tempera paint.
Get a henna tattoo kit. You put the henna on as a paste and leave it overnight; the next day you can pick it off as you would a scab and it leaves an orange-red mark behind.
Cover yourself with plasters where you want to cut.
Make “wounds” with makeup, like lipstick.
Cut’ your skin with nail polish (it feels cold, but it’s hard to get off)
Use red food coloring on your skin.
Arm wrestle with a member of your family.
Take a cold bath.
Bite into a hot pepper or chew a piece of ginger root.

Alternatives that will distract you or take up time:

Say “I’ll self harm in fifteen minutes if I still want to” and keep going for periods of fifteen minutes until the urge fades
Color your hair
Count up to ten getting louder until you are screaming
Sing on the karaoke machine
Complete something you’ve been putting off
Take up a new hobby
Make a cup of tea
Tell and laugh at jokes
Play solitaire
Count up to 500 or 1000
Surf the net
Make as many words out of your full name as possible
Count ceiling tiles or lights
Search ridiculous things on the web
Colour coordinate your wardrobe
Play with toys, such as a slinky
Go to the park and play on the swings
Call up an old friend
Go “people watching”
Carry safe, rather than sharp, things in your pocket.
Do school work
Play a musical instrument
Watch TV or a movie
Paint your nails
Alphabetize your CDs or books
Cook
Make origami to occupy your hands
Doodle on sheets of paper
Dress up or try on old clothes
Play computer games or painting programs, such as photoshop
Write out lyrics to your favorite song
Play a sport
Read a book/magazine
Do a crossword
Draw a comic strip
Make a chain link out of paper counting the hours or days you’ve been self harm free using pretty colored paper
Knit, sew, or make a necklace
Make ‘scoobies’ – braid pieces of plastic or lace, to keep your hands busy
Buy a plant and take care of it
Hunt for things on eBay or Amazon
Browse the forums
Go shopping
Memorize a poem with meaning
Learn to swear in another language
Look up words in a dictionary
Play hide-and-seek with your siblings
Go outside and watch the clouds roll by
Plan a party
Find out if any concerts will be in your area
Make your own dance routine
Trace your hand on a piece of paper; on your thumb, write something you like to look at; on your index finger, write something you like to touch; on your middle finger, write your favorite scent; on your ring finger, write something you like the taste of; on your pinky finger, write something you like to listen to; on your palm, write something you like about yourself
Plan regular activities for your most difficult time of day
Finish homework before it’s due
Take a break from mental processing
Notice black and white thinking
Get out on your own, get away from the stress
Go on YouTube
Make a scrapbook
Colour in a picture or colouring book.
Make a phone list of people you can call for support. Allow yourself to use it.
Pay attention to your breathing (breath slowly, in through your nose and out through your mouth)
Pay attention to the rhythmic motions of your body (walking, stretching, etc.)
Learn HALT signals (hungry, angry, lonely, tired)
Choose a random object, like a paper clip, and try to list 30 different uses for it
Pick a subject and research it on the web – alternatively, pick something to research and then keep clicking on links, trying to get as far away from the original topic as you can.
Take a small step towards a goal you have.
Re-organize your room
Name all of your soft toys
Play the A-Z game (Pick a category ie. Animals, and think of an animal for every letter of the alphabet
Have a lush warm bubble bath with candles!
Do some knitting
Do some house hold chores

Think about how you don’t want scars
Treat yourself nicely
Remember that you don’t have to hurt yourself just because you’re thinking about self harm
Create a safe place to go
Acknowledge that self harm is harmful behavior: say “I want to hurt myself” rather than “I want to cut”
Repeat to yourself “I don’t deserve to be hurt” even if you don’t believe it
Remember that you always have the choice not to cut: it’s up to you what you do
Think about how you may feel guilty after self harming
Remind yourself that the urge to self harm is impulsive: you will only feel like cutting for short bursts of time
Avoid temptation
Get your friends to make you friendship bracelets: wear them around your wrists to remind you of them when you want to cut
Be with other people
Make your own list of things to do instead of self harm
Make a list of your positive character traits
Be nice to your family, who in return, will hopefully be nice to you
Put a band-aid on the area where you’d like to self harm
Recognize and acknowledge the choices you have NOW
Pay attention to the changes needed to make you feel safe
Notice “choices” versus “dilemmas”
Lose the “should-could-have to” words. Try… “What if”
Kiss the places you want to SH or kiss the places you have healing wounds. It can be a reminder that you care about myself and that you don’t want this
Choose your way of thinking, try to resist following old thinking patterns
The Butterfly project- draw a butterfly on the place(s) that you would self harm and if the butterfly fades without self-harming, it means it has lived and flown away, giving a sense of achievement. Whereas if you do self-harm with the butterfly there; you will have to wash it off. If that does happen, you can start again by drawing a new one on. You can name the butterfly after someone you love.
Write the name of a loved one [a friend, family member, or anyone else who cares about you] and write their name where you want to self harm. When you go to self harm remember how much they care and wouldn’t want you to harm yourself.
Think about what you would say to a friend who was struggling with the same things you are and try to be a good friend to yourself.
Make a bracelet out duct tape, and put a line on it every day (Or any period of time) you go without self harm. When it’s full of lines, take it off and make a chain out of all the bracelets and hang it up somewhere where you can be reminded of your great progress.

Everybody, post what you can suggest or what helps you. Comments, updates, alterations on ideas, what ever. We’re here to help. x

ElementalSon said 3 years, 4 months ago:

Go outside and run. Run until you can’t run any more. It helps.

Princen said 3 years, 4 months ago:

There are a lot of different alternatives for when you’re feeling different ways so that list is great thank you! I have problems with feeling numb, so hot showers and snapping a rubber band onto my wrist always helps. And for when I need distractions from anxiety or depression I pamper myself, get cozy, and listen to music, read, or watch a movie!

said 2 years, 7 months ago:

This needs a bump.

Very useful information here for those of you looking for an alternative. Remember that these are meant to be gateways onto the road to recovery. No self harm is good – but slowly transitioning into something less damaging is definitely a start in the right direction. The ultimate goal is to find a healthy coping skill that requires no harm at all.

If you see something here you haven’t tried already, give it a chance. Skimming through and saying “Oh, that won’t work…” is like reading a book by it’s cover. You never know until you try.