SELF-HARM: WHAT IS IT AND HOW CAN YOU STOP?

Self-harm is when someone intentionally hurts themselves as a way of dealing with difficult emotions. There are many reasons why someone self-harms, these could include:

  • Expressing or managing emotional distress
  • Trying to gain control
  • Punishing themselves
  • A need to change emotional pain into physical pain
  • An escape of traumatic memories
  • A cry for help
  • Response to intrusive thoughts

Sometimes the reason may not even be known. Those who self-harm tend to be dealing with emotional distress such as being bullied, a relationship breakdown, mental health issues, grief, abuse to name a few. People also self-harm in different ways, and there is not one blanket form of self-harm – it’s different for everyone. Ways people self-harm include:

  • Cutting
  • Binge eating or starving yourself
  • Biting
  • Picking or scratching skin
  • Substance abuse
  • Hitting yourself or walls
  • Hair pulling
  • Practicing unsafe safe
  • Starting fights where you know you’ll get hurt
  • Excessive exercise
  • Burning the skin

If you do any of the above, it’s important to know that you can stop. There are many things you can do to help yourself. Try reaching out to a loved one about how you are feeling. If you feel as though you can’t do this, you can call Samaritans on 116 123. Distracting yourself when you feel the need to self-harm can also be effective – go out for a walk, watch your favourite TV show or call a friend.

If you’re feeling anxious, try calming breathing techniques to help reduce these feelings. We’ve written a handy blog post which you can read HERE.

It’s really helpful to understand your self-harm pattern as this can help you recognise your triggers, which will be beneficial for learning how to stop. Even if you couldn’t resist the urge to self-harm, reflect on what happened, what it felt like beforehand (racing heart, feeling of sadness etc.), what you were thinking of, who you were around.

If you’re struggling with self-harm, we’re here to offer you support and work with you to protect your mental health so that you can stop harming yourself effectively. If you’re having strong suicidal thoughts, please call emergency services on 999 immediately.

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