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You can stop

Self-harm is addictive, which means if you’re going to stop you have to decide you really want to change. It’s pretty much all or nothing.

Remember to think about the reasons behind your need to self-harm, as well as your self-harming behaviour.

Putting self-harm behind you can be a long, slow process, so be prepared for the long haul. But you can and will get better.

Divert yourself

When you feel anxious or upset, do something you enjoy or trying to think about other things can be a way to help you stop hurting yourself.

You could try:
  • Phoning a friend
  • Writing down your feelings in a diary
  • Listening to music, drawing or reading
  • Going for a walk or a run, dancing, exercising or playing sport
  • Counting down slowly from 10 to 0
  • Breathing slowly, in through the nose and out through the mouth
  • Focusing on objects around you and thinking about what they look, sound, smell, taste and feel like.
If you still want to hurt yourself
  • Finding a safe punching bag like some pillows
  • Putting your hands into a bowl of ice cubes for a short time or rubbing ice on the part of your body you feel like injuring
  • Using a red felt tip marker or lipstick to mark your body instead of cutting
  • Putting a rubber band around your wrist and flicking it
  • Have a cold shower
  • Wax your legs
  • Scream or shout out loud
  • Putting sticking plasters on the parts of your body you want to injure.

Top tips for stopping self-harming

Person illustration Talk to someone
It’s not easy to talk about self-harm. But talking to someone you trust and feel comfortable with is a big step towards getting the help you need. Your family or a close friend is a good place to start. Or if you prefer it, you can speak to your school nurse, family GP or a youth worker.
You can do it illustration Distraction techniques
If you can hang on in there, and resist the urge to self-harm for just 30 seconds to begin with, you can start to break the habit. You could try grabbing a book or a stress ball, a spot of baking, some sport, having a good scream or punching a pillow. Try to find something which can focus on for 30 seconds, 1 minute, then 5 minutes.
You can do it!
Some people find it helpful to draw cuts on to their skin, but then don’t make them for real. Others use elastic bands on their wrists (to flick) or run ice across their skin to help wean them off a cutting habit. Looking after your skin can also help.
Have you thought about talking to a trained counsellor? Talking therapies, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) help tackle your problems by changing the way you think and behave. Mindfulness is another technique which could help. Check out these mindfulness resources to get a headstart.
People illustration Other support services
There’s nothing quite like talking to someone you know and trust, but don’t forget there are trained counsellors you can can talk to for free over the phone, online-chat, or email. Take a look at our Talk to someone page.
Exercise illustration Let's get physical
Exercise and sport are a great way of upping your mood and helping you feel better about yourself, then you’ll feel less like self-harming. Check out the Mental Health Foundation information in the Who can help me? section for more details.

More helpful info

ChildLine have some really great tips for helping you to stop self-harming.

Watch Amy and Danielle's stories about self-harm and their experience of A&E, the crisis team and distraction methods.

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