Technique

Disclaimer: Listed below is a list of things to do instead of cutting, burning, bruising, or other forms of self-inflicted violence. Please remember, that not everything on this list will work for everyone, feel free to pick and choose. Should you have more items to add to the list, please e-mail them to me, and I’ll be happy to add them. After all, the more options we have the better our choices of finding healthy alternatives. Some of these choices are complicated, and you might want to utilize the help of your therapist or trusted friend in undertaking them. Recovery is not a process that can be walked through alone.. please don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

ALTERNATIVES TO SELF-INJURIOUS BEHAVIOURS

1. Use washable red markers to “cut” on your skin
2. Place your hands in freezing cold water
3. Listen to music/relaxation tapes
4. Make a mourning wreath (start with black flowers and replace with colored flowers)
5. Repetitive reality checking (It’s April 1997, and I’m going to be ok)
6. Negotiate with yourself
7. Get to know others
8. Recognize and acknowledge the choices you have NOW
9. Offer options
10. Carry tokens to remind you of peaceful comforting things/people
11. Create and use mental safe places (beach, cabin in the woods, peaceful mountain)
12. Get out on your own, get away from the stress
13. Help someone around you (reach out on a bb, newsgroup, phone list etc.)
14. Pay attention to the changes needed to make you feel safe
15. Count yourself down (10…9…8…7…)
16. Take a different perspective (different vantage point)
17. “I’m aware” Repeat 5 things you see, smell, touch, taste in your present surroundings to help ground you in the present
18. Pay attention to your breathing (breath slowly, in through your nose and out through your mouth)
19. Pay attention to the rhythmic motions of your body (walking, stretching, etc.)
20. Move to music
21. ASK FOR HELP
22. Ask yourself inside, what YOU need
23. Make affirmation tapes inside you that are good, kind, gentle (Sometimes you can do this by writing down the negative thoughts and then physically re-writing them into positive messages)
24. Journal
25. Touch Something familiar/safe
26. Draw
27. Put your feet firmly on the floor
28. Make something (craft, needlework, etc.)
29. Accept a gift from a friend
30. Meditate
31. Make a phone list of people you can call for support. Allow yourself to use it
32. Learn HALT signals (hungry, angry, lonely, tired)
33. Identify what is causing you pain (other than food)
34. Accept where you are in the process. Beating yourself up, only makes it worse.
35. Do something FUN!!!
36. Take a break from mental processing
37. Take a SAFE risk
38. Tear up paper (old phonebooks, newspapers, etc.)
39. Honor your present anger
40. Throw ice cubes at the bathtub wall, at a tree, etc.
41. Give yourself permission to…. (Keep it safe)
42. Lose the “should-could-have to” words. Try… “What if”
43. Choose your way of thinking, try to resist following old thinking patterns
44. Put memories in air tight containers with air tight lids
45. Notice black and white thinking
46. Connect with others around you. Call a therapist or friend.
47. Notice “choices” versus “dilemmas”
48. Keep in touch with others who are fighting the same fight
49. Check in with yourself and others frequently (try not to isolate)
50. Make yourself as comfortable as possible (Without using food)
51. Take a bath or a shower
52. Color in coloring books
53. Hold a stuffed animal
54. Write a poem
55. Leave the room
56. Leave the premises
57. Write a letter, NOT mailed, to the person or problem upsetting you
58. Play a musical instrument
59. Plan regular activities for your most difficult time of day
60. Call a hotline or support group
61. Listen to a comedy tape or video
62. Reality check old messages (Those you supply and those you hear others tell you)
63. Clean the house
64. Get out a fine tooth comb and vigorously brush the fur of a stuffed animal (but use gentle vigor )
65. Pull weeds in a garden
66. Plant flowers
I have found that the best way to utilize this list is to print it out and keep it handy. When the eating disorder urges hit, we are often easily overwhelmed. This is not the best time to try and remember what our healthy choices are. If they are already written out and on hand, all we have to do is read down the list until we find something safe and helpful. I know for myself, that worked better than trying to put more pressure on my already overtaxed mind. Eventually, the choices that worked best for me became as natural as walking and talking, and I no longer had to keep the list as near to me.

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