If you have a history of self-harm you may be very familiar with the fact that the urge to self-harm can come at random times, and with no warnings. These urges usually surface due to certain triggers, or maybe due to some unidentifiable stimulus. Due to this, it is beneficial to have some strategies in order to cope with these sudden urges. It is suggested that it is best to get help for these self-harm urges by contacting a professional. Day One offers professional mental health services at a low cost, if you wish to seek out help (INSERT LINK). However, there are other strategies you can use in order to help yourself in the moment when those urges occur. It is always nice to have some strategies at hand when these urges surface.
The first step to coping with self-harm urges is to recognize your triggers, and the motivations behind self-harming. People self-harm for a number of reasons. The most commonly expressed reasons are wanting a release from built up emotions, and wanting to feel something due to a lack of emotions. Whatever the reason, it is important to understand why there is an urge which will in turn help you to utilize coping strategies to combat those urges. There is a lot of power in recognition.
One coping strategy is to get your body moving. This can be something as simple as taking a walk around the block. Emotional build up can cause your body to tense up, by getting your body in motion you can combat those tense muscles, and in turn create space for relaxation. On top of this, taking some deep breaths and focusing on your breathing can help to clear the mind, and allow the body to relax.
Another coping strategy is to shock your system with cold water. Exposing yourself to sometimes intense sensations (like submerging your head briefly in a bowl of ice water, or holding an ice cube in your hand or on your face), can create a sensation to focus on and distract from those intense urges. This also applies to going and getting warm (curling up in a blanket, sitting by a heater, etc.). Creating a warm and calming space can put the body in a more relaxed stage.
Another strategy that can be used in order to combat feelings of self-harm is to find another healthier action to serves the same purpose. The act of self-harming serves a very specific purpose of release of some sort of emotion. Therefore, finding some other action that can create that same space is proven to be beneficial. Some suggestions could be going for a run, punching something soft, screaming, or engaging in a loved hobby. It might also prove to be helpful to reach out to close friends and family members when urges arise. It can be incredibly easy to seclude yourself when feeling super low. However, reaching out to someone you trust can be helpful.
Self-harm urges are incredibly hard to push through. Sometimes coping skills do not work, and more help is needed. There is no shame in asking for help when nothing else works. There are different resources set up in order to help with these urges. One of those resources is Day One as mentioned above. There are also help lines put into place for anyone to reach out to in a time of crisis. One of these lines is a Crisis text line where you can text HOME to 741-741 and get connected with someone who can help. There are also apps such as Self-Heal and Calm Harm which are both designed to help when urges arise.