I was thinking this morning, whilst I was walking to the university campus, about where I was this time last year. And I decided I wanted to write about something that my church youth leader suggested when I admitted that I was struggling with self-harm.
Because, despite being just under a year since I last self-harmed, I do get the urge to do it sometimes and that makes it even more important to have distractive mechanisms in place so that I can prevent myself from causing pain and damage.
I wanted to share my list of things to do to distract myself, keep myself occupied and not thinking of wanting to cause pain. Things which will take a lot of attention or generate joy so that I forget the reasons behind the desire to hurt myself.
- Either something quick like cookies, scones or pancakes or maybe something that needs more attention such as a cake with decorations
- I like to make one of my favourite cookies such as white chocolate chip and cranberry or perhaps a fruit and nut flapjack
- This may sound silly but cleaning or even just washing up can be relaxing due to its repetitive nature
- And helping others out and making the environment around you cleaner can boost your mood too
- Maybe a book with a range of pictures to colour in it or just getting out some colours and going wild
- For me this would generally be card making or felting when I felt stressed out but knitting, crochet, sewing and cross stitch would also be great if that helps you to relax -I prefer to knit or crochet in the evenings with the TV on
- This could be something like getting a blank pad of paper and drawing something slightly complicated or perhaps doing an invention test to make a meal for the evening from a small selection of your favourite ingredients
- Listen to your favourite band, or sometimes I find Christian music particularly helpful
- If you have an instrument, play it or make up some tunes
- Fairly self-explanatory!
- A new book, your favourite book, one you’re in the middle of, it doesn’t really matter
- It’s more about the idea of escapism and enjoyment
- Ring or talk to friends
- Sometimes it’s useful to have that one person who is always happy to listen if you need to talk or perhaps a family member to help you feel calmer and happier
- Go to an area of countryside or nature where there are few people so you can escape from society
- Or if you prefer, go to the gym and run off your feelings on the treadmill
- Poetry is a good way to release emotion
- Writing stories is also fun for me and lets me escape reality
- Sometimes just writing down how you feel can be an alternative way to express yourself and can alleviate the desire to hurt yourself
I know these things don’t always work, especially if you feel really bad, but I hope they give you some ideas of your own as to what will help keep you distracted and make you feel better.
Unlearning harmful behaviour and replacing it with other actions is one of the most helpful ways of staying safe and keeping yourself from irreversibly hurting yourself. Remember that you are valued and needed by at least one person in this world, causing pain is not the way forward.
Stay safe, be strong and I hope this has helped in some way.