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We can’t be there in person to help and support you in a moment of crisis, but there are other options available to you if you can’t turn to someone you trust. By giving us your postcode (or one nearby to where you are right now) we can let you know about services in your area. Remember: this moment will pass; you won’t always feel the way you do right now. 

If in doubt always call 999.

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Dedicated to self-harm recovery, insight and support.

Alternatives and Distractions

Sometimes when that urge to self harm arises, it can be extremely difficult to fight, and that’s completely normal. Everyone is different, everyone self harms for different reasons, and in the same way, everyone will have different alternatives and distractions that may work for them. One thing may work for one person, and may not necessarily work for another. There will be times where something that has worked before, may not work for you in that moment.

Many of you have offered a number of strategies that work for you, so we thought it would be helpful to put these into one place...

  • Scribble or draw something, perhaps how you are feeling
  • Splatter paint onto paper
  • Write down your feelings – sometimes it helps to get out how you’re feeling, and see it on paper. You can even rip this up after you are done.
  • Knitting
  • Write a letter to someone or yourself and don’t send it. This could even be a positive letter to your younger self
  • Create a scrap book
  • Write three positive statements about yourself
  • Make a positive jar, where you write down positive things about yourself, words of encouragement or any positive memories you have, and then when you are having a low day or the urge to self harm, you can take them out of the jar and read through them
  • Punch a pillow/something soft
  • Scream outloud or into a cushion
  • Rip pages out of an old book or rip up paper
  • Exercise
  • Go for a walk
  • Snapping twigs
  • Hitting a rolled up piece of newspaper against a door frame
  • Play with playdough/plasticine or roll it around in your hands
  • Listen to music
  • Sing at the top of your voice
  • Dance around to a song
  • Watch a film you love or spend some time on youtube watching some of your favourite video clips
  • Read a book
  • Talk to someone
  • Make yourself busy and tidy your room
  • Rubix cube
  • Baking
  • Play a game on your phone/console or computer
  • Eat your favourite food
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Online shopping – you don’t need to buy anything, but could just have a browse
  • Repetitive/therapuetic tasks such as washing up, something where you keep your hands busy
  • Wrap the part you harm and sleep it off
  • Drawing on yourself where you want to harm could work for you, drawing in red will also give the impression of blood
  • Holding, squeezing or rubbing ice where you want to harm can give the same kind of sensation
  • Have a nice and relaxing bubble bath
  • Having a rubber band around your wrist can always be an alternative, pinging it against yourself when having the urge to self harm

You could also... Make a Distraction Box!

In a distraction box, you can put any of these things mentioned above in it, and all sorts of things that make you smile. This could be photos of places you’ve been or people you love. A blanket, your favourite chocolate bar, favourite film or book, lots of creative bits and bobs…. It’s totally up to you! You could add in phone numbers of people you could call, or helplines. 

If you have any more distractions or alternatives that work for you, please share them in the comments below!