How to stop self-harm and practice self-care?

Welcome to a difficult but critical issue that deserves our attention and comprehension: self-harm and self-care. While the phrases may appear contradictory, they frequently coexist. Self-care may seem like a distant dream for people battling with self-harm, but it is critical in breaking free from the vicious cycle. In this blog article, we’ll go over what self-harm is, how it affects mental health, and, most importantly, how to practice self-care in order to heal and recover. Therefore, let’s remove the stigma and take the first step towards a happier, healthier self.

Summary

  • Self-harm is defined as purposely injuring oneself in order to cope with emotional anguish, stress, or other challenging feelings.
  • It can take numerous forms, including cutting, burning, scraping, beating, striking, or ripping off one’s hair or eyelashes.
  • Self-harm can have a huge influence on a person’s life, both physically and emotionally.
  • It can be a hard habit to break, but with self-help centered self-care techniques, people can learn to control strong emotions and develop better coping mechanisms.

Contents

What is meant by self-harm?

Self-harm is defined as purposely injuring oneself in order to cope with emotional anguish, stress, or other challenging feelings. It is critical to understand that self-harm is not a healthy or productive way of dealing with these feelings, and that there are other options.

Self-harm can take numerous forms, including cutting, burning, scraping, beating, striking, or ripping off one’s hair or eyelashes. It can be performed on several regions of the body, including the arms, legs, stomach, and chest. Self-harm might provide short-term respite from emotional suffering, but it can also result in physical harm, scarring, and infections.

It is critical to understand that self-harm is not a sign of weakness, attention seeking, or a conscious decision. It is more frequently than not an indication of deeper emotional discomfort, trauma, or mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, or borderline personality disorder.

Consider a person who is swamped by bad thoughts and feelings following a breakup or a tragic occurrence. People may resort to self-harm to cope with these sensations, gain control, or divert themselves from emotional suffering. This coping method, however, can lead to a cycle of guilt, humiliation, and self-blame, making it more difficult to address the underlying issues.

Various ways in which people engage in self-harm

Self-harm is a complicated problem that takes many forms. While it’s critical to realize that self-harm is not a healthy method to deal with emotional anguish, it’s equally important to comprehend the various forms it can take, such as:

  • Cutting: One of the most popular forms of self-harm is cutting. It entails making skin cuts with the use of sharp implements like razors, knives, or scissors. Cutting can give a person momentary emotional pain relief and a sense of control. Physical injury, scarring, infections, and even unintentional injuries might result from it, though. For instance, someone who cuts might experience severe emotional anguish during a dispute with their partner and turn to cutting as a coping mechanism.
  • Burning: Another manner that people self-harm is by burning. It entails burning the skin with heat sources like lighters, matches, or cigarettes. Burning can result in significant physical harm and leave scars that last a lifetime. Moreover, it may make unintentional accidents and infections more likely. For instance, someone who burns might experience overwhelming anxiety before a job interview and turn to burning as a coping mechanism.
  • Skin picking or scratching: Skin picking or scratching is another type of self-harm. It entails picking or scratching the skin with nails, pins, or other pointed items, leaving scars and causing injuries. Picking or scratching can also result in infections, which may delay the healing of the wounds. A person who scratches, for example, may be self-conscious about their body appearance and may scratch to relieve anxiety.
  • Striking or punching: Striking or punching oneself is another way that people self-harm. It entails punching or pounding oneself with fists, objects, or against walls, resulting in bruises and injuries. Striking or punching can result in shattered bones, muscular strains, and other injuries. A person who hits, for example, may be furious or disappointed after an altercation with their family and may use hitting to express their feelings.
  • Hair pulling: Hair pulling (trichotillomania) is a type of self-harm that involves pulling off one’s hair, eyelashes, or eyebrows. Pulling on one’s hair can result in bald spots, infections, and even permanent hair loss. A person who pulls their hair, for example, may be nervous or apprehensive before a test and use hair pulling to cope with their worry.

Symptoms of self-harm

Self-harm is a complicated problem that frequently takes on numerous forms. It might be difficult to identify self-harm signs, but doing so is essential for early intervention and prevention. Some most common signs are:

  • Unaccounted-for wounds or scars: One of the most prevalent signs of self-harm is the existence of unaccounted-for wounds or scars on the skin. These wounds could be cuts, burns, bruising, or scratches. Even in warmer weather, the person may attempt to hide these wounds by donning long sleeves or slacks. For instance, someone who self-harms would refrain from donning shorts in the summer in order to cover up leg scars.
  • Social withdrawal: Social withdrawal is a sign of self-harm. The individual may withdraw from friends and family and stop participating in things they once found enjoyable. They might grow more aloof, unresponsive, and unwilling to make eye contact. For instance, a self-harmer would skip out on social gatherings with friends to avoid inquiries about their wounds.
  • Emotional instability and mood swings: Self-harm is frequently accompanied by emotional instability and mood fluctuations. The individual could feel strong emotions including grief, worry, guilt, or wrath. They could struggle to control their emotions and feel powerless over them. Self-harming individuals, for instance, may experience great melancholy following a breakup and use it as a coping mechanism.

Read Blog: Handling Guilt: The 3 Types and How to Cope

  • Compulsive behaviour: Obsessive behaviour is another indication of self-harm. The individual may get fixated on a particular task, such as cleaning, exercising, or counting. People may spend hours engaged in the activity because they feel forced to. A self-harmer, for example, may spend hours sharpening a razor blade, feeling compelled to cut.

Read Blog: Effective Self-Help Tips to Manage Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Wearing unsuitable clothing: Self-harm can present itself in the form of incorrect attire. Even in hot temperatures, the person may wear long sleeves or pants to conceal injuries or scars. To disguise their injuries, they may also wear clothes that is excessively tight or too loose. For example, a self-harmer may wear a hoodie in hot weather to conceal their scars.

1. Why do people self-harm?

There is no one simple explanation for why people commit acts of self-harm because the subject is complicated. Yet, there are a few typical causes for self-harm. Self-harmers may use self-harm as a coping mechanism for strong emotions including anger, despair, worry, or guilt. These feelings could feel overwhelming to them, making it challenging for them to express them in healthy ways. Even for a little period of time, self-harm might temporarily numb these emotions.

Self-harm can also be a strategy for those who are looking for a sense of control over their lives. Self-harm can give them a sense of control over their body and their pain because they may feel that their lives are chaotic. They may feel guilty or ashamed of themselves and believe they deserve to be punished. Self-harm can be a means for some people to express their emotional distress to others. Although they might believe that they lack the language to communicate their emotions, their self-harm could be a cry for assistance. Some people use self-harm as a method of self-punishment.

2. How can I reach out to someone to tell them that I self-harm?

It can be challenging and frightening to talk to someone about self-harm, but it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to go through this alone. You can ask for assistance by following these few steps:

  • Think about a person in your life who you can trust and who you feel at ease talking to. This could be a friend, relative, mentor, coach, or instructor. It’s crucial to pick a person you trust won’t pass judgement on you or have a bad reaction.
  • Prepare your remarks in advance. Making a plan for your remarks can be beneficial. Practice expressing your ideas and emotions aloud after writing them down.
  • Pick a secure location for the conversation. Pick a secure location for the talk. This could be a secluded room or a serene park nook. In order to have an honest talk, make sure you have enough time and privacy.
  • When you’re prepared to chat, be open and forthright about your self-harm. Justify your self-harming behaviour and the emotions it causes. Both expressing emotion and seeking assistance are acceptable.
  • Get expert assistance. It’s critical to do so as soon as you can. Your trusted individual can assist you in finding a therapist or counsellor with experience in self-harm. They can give you the assistance and resources you need to succeed.

3. What is the impact of engaging in self-harm on an individual’s life?

Self-harm can have a huge influence on a person’s life, both physically and emotionally. Self-harm is a coping method that is frequently used to manage high emotions or to feel in control in stressful situations. Yet, the short-term relief provided by self-harm is quickly overwhelmed by long-term detrimental consequences. Here are some of the ways that self-harm can affect a person’s life:

  • Physical impact: Self-harm can result in physical harm to the body, ranging from minor scratches to major wounds requiring medical attention. These wounds can leave noticeable scars for a lifetime and might possibly result in permanent disfigurement or impairment. Self-harm can result in unintentional death in some situations.
  • Emotional impact: Self-harm can have a huge emotional impact on a person’s life. It can cause emotions of shame, guilt, and self-hatred, making it difficult to build and sustain good connections with others. Self-harm can also lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns, all of which can have a negative influence on a person’s quality of life.
  • Social ramifications: The visual scars and wounds created by self-harm can result in social ramifications such as bullying, ostracism, and stigma. This might further alienate people who are already dealing with significant emotions, making it difficult for them to seek help.
  • Addiction risk: Self-harm can become addictive, and people may grow reliant on it to cope with stress or emotions.

Read Blog: Addiction and Mental Health: How to Overcome Addiction

How self-care can help? 4 self-care-based self-help strategies

Self-harm can be a hard habit to break, but with self-help centered self-care techniques, people can learn to control strong emotions and develop better coping mechanisms. Here are 4 self-care techniques to help you stop self-harming:

1. Using mindfulness techniques: Being in the present moment without passing judgement is the practise of mindfulness. Those who practise mindfulness can better understand and accept their feelings without turning to self-harm as a coping method.

Benefits:

  • enhanced emotional control
  • greater awareness of oneself
  • decreased stress and sadness

Consequences:

  • requires regular practise
  • It could take time to observe effects

Practical Steps:

  • Allocate 10–15 minutes per day to engage in mindfulness exercises.
  • Start with basic mindfulness activities like body scanning or deep breathing.
  • Increase the frequency and difficulty of mindfulness exercises gradually.

Read Blog: How kundalini meditation can help with mental health?

2. Engaging in Creative Activities: Drawing, painting, or writing are some examples of creative pursuits that can assist people in expressing their feelings in a healthy way without turning to self-harm.

Benefits:

  • A better ability to express emotion
  • higher sensation of control
  • Good diversion from urges to hurt oneself

Consequences: 

  • When feeling strong emotions, it may be difficult to engage in creative tasks.
  • Perhaps requiring practice to hone abilities

Actionable Steps:

  • Decide which artistic pursuits you appreciate or would like to try.
  • Set aside time every day or every week to do creative things.
  • Exercise self-compassion and remember that expressiveness, not perfection, is the point of creative endeavors.

Read Blog: Emotional Healing and The Art of Journaling: Tips to Get Started

3. Creating a Support Network: Creating a support network of people who can offer emotional support and encouragement can help people overcome self-harm.

Benefits:

  • increased sense of belonging and connection
  • Providing emotional support at trying times
  • Encouragement from supportive peers

Consequences:

  • It necessitates vulnerability and transparency.
  • It may take some time to establish a supporting network.

Steps to Take:

  • Determine who in your life is supportive and understanding.
  • Get emotional assistance from a trusted friend or family member.
  • Consider attending a support group for people who suffer from self-harm.

Read Blog: 14 Tips to Enhance Social Connections

4. Creating Healthy Coping Strategies: Creating healthy coping skills can assist individuals in managing intense emotions and preventing self-harm. Exercise, journaling, and talking to a therapist are some coping tactics.

Benefits:

  • Better emotional control
  • enhanced sensation of control
  • Better mental health

Consequences:

  • Finding successful coping skills may necessitate some trial.
  • Coping skills may not be effective in all situations.

Steps to Take:

  • Determine which coping tactics work best for you.
  • Use those coping skills when you are feeling overwhelmed or when you believe your self-harming tendencies are taking control of you.

Conclusion

Self-harm is a severe problem that many individuals experience, and overcoming it can be difficult. But it is possible to beat self-harm and live a healthy, happy life with the correct self-care techniques and assistance. Remember that prioritizing your own health is crucial because self-care is not selfish. Find good coping mechanisms over time, ask for assistance when you need it, and be patient and kind to yourself as you go. Keep in mind that you are not alone and that there is always a chance for recovery and healing. Let’s abandon self-harm as a group and embrace a life filled with self-love and self-care.

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