What are good coping mechanisms to stop cutting?

“…The pain is what helps me, obviously only for short periods of time but I want something like that that isn’t “physically dangerous” I guess. I’ve tried drawing and writing but it doesn’t really help. What else can I do?”

Thank you for your question, self harm can be a very difficult and stressful topic. People self harm for many different reasons, sometimes people will use self harm as a way to create pain as punishment, or to feel something other than emotional numbness. Many people self harm as a means to distract themselves from other problems, or to express an emotion that is hard to express in words. Many people will say that teens who self harm are just “looking for attention.” It’s important to remember that self harm itself is not a character flaw, and people who self harm deserve to have help and empathy no matter what the reason, and shouldn’t be written off as nothing more than attention seekers. Finding out why you specifically self harm is very important to understanding how to cope in other ways. It is important to think about and identify what emotions and thoughts you are going through in the moments that you feel like self harming: do you feel angry? depressed? confused? lonely? guilty? Whatever the emotion, identifying what is happening in the midst of your self harm can help to pinpoint some ways to help keep yourself from self harming.

Exploring other coping mechanisms is a good way to go about preventing self harm. For some people getting involved in specific hobbies or activities help to ward off the negative feelings that lead to self harm. Writing, drawing, making music or anything creative can be a good method for some people instead of self harming. Creating and becoming immersed in something can be a good way to distract from negative emotions for a time. Some people may find a healthy amount of athletic activity to be helpful. Keeping active can help to fend off negative emotions, and staying healthy can help with urges to self harm. Many people may keep a journal to help keep track of their feelings, distract from self harm, and figure out what their personal triggers for self harm are. Some people find doing something physical like tearing up pieces of paper or scribbling with with pens to be helpful as well.

There are many coping alternatives to self harm out there, and what coping mechanisms work depend on your personal situation. Talking to friends and family you trust, school counselors, therapists, religious leaders, or anyone else who will be helpful and supportive of your feelings can help you to feel less alone and more supported in your situation. People like therapists and counselors also have the education and knowledge to help you come up with coping mechanisms which work for you. Self harm is a hard battle to overcome, and many people find that even with when they have exercised good coping mechanisms relapses of self harm can still occur. It’s important to remember that relapses are not failures, and that it is okay to be struggling.

Feel free to chat with us online at www.Calgaryconnecteen.com if you are ever struggling, or text us at 587.333.2724 during our peer support hours. (you can find them on the website). Or you can call us 24/7 at 403.264.TEEN (8336). Our trained volunteers care about your struggle, and are here and able to support you.