Alternatives to Self-Harm

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

Self-harm can be addicting and hard to stop once you have started it. An important component of the recovery process is having alternatives to self-harm. Here is a list of things to do instead of self-harming:

- Draw on yourself with sharpie/draw pretend wounds where you want to cut

- Go outside and distract yourself

- Pick up a hobby

- Blast music

- Meditate

- Take a hot or cold shower

- Run an ice cube down where you want to self-harm

- Pluck your eyebrows

- Write what you're feeling down in a journal, then cut it up or burn it

- Put band-aids on the places you wanted to self-harm (even draw on them red marker if needed)

- Scribble on paper

- Throw something light at a wall

- Scream out loud or in a pillow

- Dance aggressively

- Go swimming (be careful / have supervision)

- Exercise until you have completely exhausted yourself

- Tear apart newspapers, photos, or magazines

- Pop bubble wrap or a balloon

- Splatter paint

- Go for a run

- Wax your legs

- Write or paint on yourself

- Splash your face with cold water

- Bake something then eat it before it cools down

- Dye your hair

- Call a friend

- Paint your nails

- Read a book

- Watch TV

- Go shopping

- Play with a pet

- Get a tattoo or piercing (if money allows)

- Tell yourself you will self-harm in 15 minutes if you still want to, keep doing that until the urge passes

- Cry

- Go for a walk

- Write a letter to yourself or someone else

- Buy a henna tattoo kit and do henna

- Hug a pillow

- Chew gum

- Snap a rubber band (or hair band) on your wrist

- Sleep

- Get a hair cut

- Don't beat yourself up


Some of these things have helped me countless times when I wanted to self-harm, so I hope they can help you, too. However, one thing may work for someone and not work for someone else, please do not let that discourage you. Sometimes the point of trying things is to prove they don't work, but don't give up. If there is something you have done to keep yourself from self-harming that is not on this list, please feel free to reach out so I can add it.


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