Coping strategies for non-urgent use
1) POSITIVE SELF INSTRUCTION
Be kind to yourself. Praise yourself. You have come this far, and you have read this, and that’s a great thing. You’re learning more about ways you can stop, or hold off on, self-harm. Well done. Give yourself a hug. Do something you like doing. Tell yourself you’re doing a good job.
2) BEST FRIEND TECHNIQUE
I know this sounds a little odd, but be your own best friend. What would you tell a friend who is going through what you are going through now? What would you say, exactly? What would you do? Think about it, and then tell yourself the exact same thing. Listen to yourself.
3) INTERPRETATION OF EVENTS
Why are you feeling the way you are feeling now? What happened? Can you try to interpret this event in an alternate way? Is there an alternate explanation for these events?
4) AVOID TRIGGERS
Self-explanatory. If you know a certain situation is going to make you want to self-harm, stay away from it. For example, I can’t be around my family for very long or I get very frustrated and I often turn against myself. So I recognise my limit, and then I leave the situation. I avoid putting myself in the position where I have to choose between myself, and myself.
5) CHANGE THE CHAIN OF EVENTS
I’m thinking that there is a pattern in your self-harm. There are similar triggers from similar events, and you usually respond in the same way. Break that pattern. What’s going to happen if this ONE TIME, you don’t resort to self-harm? Try it out, and see. Write about it. Just this one time, give it a go.
6) BUILD IN PAUSE
Stop. Say to yourself, “STOP”. And stop. Think about this. Gain control over this situation right here, right now. You are in this moment. You don’t need to do anything else. Be here, right now, with me. That’s all you have to do. Just stop. Stop your thoughts, stop your actions, stop everything. Breathe. Then continue with another coping mechanism.
7) BREATHING/RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
There are so many of these that I will just share one with you now – the one that has been most effective for me.
Go and light some candles or some incense, or whatever else floats your boat. Go and get in a warm bath, or a shower, or lie down on your bed, or sit down on your floor… whatever helps you to feel grounded. Usually, I just on my floor as it helps me to feel connected. Now breathe in through your nose. Breathe out through your mouth. Breathe in for 6 seconds. Hold it. Hold it for 6 seconds. Now breathe out for 6 seconds. As you are doing this, imagine you are breathing in white light.
Imagine that this white light is circling around your body, picking up all the negative emotions along the way. As you breathe out, you are exhaling black smoke. Continue this breathing exercise, but notice that with each breath out, the black smoke becomes less intense. Soon, it turns grey. It slowly becomes lighter and lighter until you are breathing and AND out white light. Close your eyes while you are doing this.
Check out some more breathing techniques or meditation exercises (you can also create a safe place in your mind – it’s a long technique so if you want to learn more just send a PM my way and I’ll explain, or just Google it).
What would someone that you admire do? What would they say? Imagine they are with you. What are they telling you to do? Listen to them. You admire them for a reason.
9) COMMITMENT TO YOURSELF**
This is actually something that has been very useful for me. I will write more about it and show you an example in my last post on this thread.
10) SHARED REINFORCEMENT
Go and call a sibling. Go and call a friend. Go and call your therapist. Get on SAS and message someone. Email someone. Find SOMEONE and tell them what you are feeling and share the fact that you are not self harming at the moment. Just talk to them about it. Celebrate it. Stay on the phone, or keep writing to them, until the urge subsides. This ties in with urge-surfing as explained in the previous section.
11) INCOMPATIBLE BEHAVIOUR
This is something that all of my therapists have told me to do, but I never listened. Recently I tried this and it worked so I strongly encourage you to give it a go. I’m asking you to do the exact opposite of what you are feeling right now. Where do you want to self-harm? Nurture that area. Wash it gently, bandage it up (without self harming – note that you are bandaging up a clear area) and take care of it. Go and have a warm bath. Light some candles. Listen to happy music. Watch something funny. Do the opposite of what you are feeling.
These emotions are struggling and they are fighting each other. We want the positive emotions to win, so give it a little extra strength and encouragement. Ignore the negative emotions – we don’t want them here anymore. They aren’t welcome at the moment. We don’t want them to consume you, because right now I want you to take care of yourself.