Resources for Individuals Who Self Harm

For individuals who self harm, the first step to recovery is recognizing that you want to stop. If you are not yet ready to stop, do not be discouraged. There are plenty of ways to begin gaining control over your self- injuring behaviors by first setting boundaries around when and how often you hurt yourself. For many, the recovery process is often long and fraught with significant ups and downs. The following information provides a brief overview of a few ways individuals who self harm can begin working towards healing.

Alternate activities to engage in besides self harm 

One of the first steps to stopping  your self harming behaviors is to find alternative activities that help you cope with difficulties outside of self harming. Using a distraction or a substitute behavior can have a profound impact on self harming patterns, as many individuals report that delaying self injuring behaviors by just a few minutes can be enough to make the urge go away altogether. Some coping strategies include:

  • Hitting a pillow, stomping your feet, or finding nondestructive ways to release anger
  • Taking a walk or doing gentle exercise
  • Journaling
  • Calling a friend or family member 
  • Listening to music and/or dancing

What if someone notices or asks about my scars?

Trying to recover from self harm can sometimes be made difficult when others notice and/or comment on your scars. It can be hard to talk about something that feels so private, or brings up feelings of guilt or shame. Deciding whether to hide or reveal scars during recovery is your own decision. While reducing shame and feeling comfortable with where you are can be a significant part of your healing, you may not be ready to have your scars visible. 

If you choose to keep your scars visible, however, it is not uncommon that people will take notice and ask. Know that it is not your responsibility to provide them with answers. There are ways to respond that allow you to be honest, authentic, and kind without going into too much detail that could make you feel uncomfortable: 

  • “Thank you for asking, but it is not something I talk about with people I do not know well.”
  • “These are scars from a hard time in my life, but I am not comfortable talking about it now.”
  • “Yes, they are noticeable, but that is a story for another time.”

Feeling a strong sense of safety and well-being are most important in these scenarios. It is normal that people will be curious, but it is not your obligation to satisfy their curiosity. 

What if I Relapse?

Making the decision to stop self-harming and then slipping back into those behaviors is not a sign of failure. Relapsing is a common part of the recovery process, and you can use those moments to recognize which situations or feelings compel you to self-harm . Some strategies you can employ when you feel the urge to self-harm after making the decision to stop, or feeling discouraged after relapsing, include: 

  • Identify situations in which you successfully avoided self harm. Write those down and see if you notice any patterns. In doing so, you can help celebrate your successes as you continue to recover. 
  • Keep  a log of things that prompt you to consider self injury. This can help you recognize patterns so that you can address them before they turn into more serious crises or further self-harming behaviors. 
  • Replace objects you have formerly used to self harm with items that can help you cope. Items could include journaling materials, pictures of people who are important to you, a list of reasons you want to stop self-harming, or an item to hold that symbolizes courage or hope. 

New Perspective Counseling is Here to Help

Seeking professional help can be one of the most critical steps in your recovery. While talking about your self harming behaviors can be scary, it is important to be honest with whichever type of health professional you speak to. At New Perspective Counseling, our licensed therapists can provide you with the support you need to recover. Some of our therapists specialize in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which can be highly benef icial for individuals who self harm.

 Left untreated, problems do not go away, but can grow and lead to more distress. New Perspective Counseling’s experienced staff will guide you in finding relief from anxiety, stress and depression, and help you rediscover enjoyment in your relationships and a sense of purpose in your life. Contact us today to find a therapist who best suits your needs.