25 things you can do instead of self-harm 

I’ve never been one to not show my feelings. When I was younger I had a bit of an anger problem. But I believe as a kid in my situation it made sense that I’d be angry. 

I was abused from the ages of 10-16. And that abuse changed me. It made me feel hollow inside. I felt like the world was crashing down on me every single morning and crushing me under it’s weight every night. 

I missed my father who, unfortunately, didn’t miss me. I missed my mother who, for the most part, was a silent bystander in my life. 

I hated my stepfather… For obvious reasons. 

As I got older the trauma stuck with me. Although I didn’t know that because it manifested itself as bi-polar II and anxiety. It crept up on me during my junior year in college. 

Bi-polar II is a mental illness that sides more with depression than mania. I have somewhat high highs but soul crushing lows. 

These feelings of anger and resentment suddenly boiled over and I didn’t know what to do with them. So I self medicated.

I chose alcohol. 

It’s ironic that I tried to use alcohol to forget because alcohol is a depressant. If anything it helps you remember more intensely and you’re more susceptible to pain. What’s worse, if you drink enough you start to have an inability to make good choices. 

So you self medicate and self harm. 

I’ve come a long way since then. I’m by no means “cured”, but I feel a lot better. Through medication and therapy I’ve begun to accept things that I can’t change about my past, and to remember that it really is all in the past. I’ve also started to be able to see the positive people and things in my life. My true friends and family, my pets, my Husband, my creativity, and my will to carry on to name a few. 

But some days, it’s hard to connect with those positive things. 

Some days it feels like I’m in an empty room with nothing but a window to look out of. Through that window is another room filled with all of the wonderful things in my life and all of my reasons to live, displayed neatly and beautifully. I try to pry open the window but it’s sealed shut. I simply cannot access the good. 

What do I do on days like that? Where do I turn when everything feels hopeless? Do I self medicate? 

No. 

No, I don’t. Not anymore. Here’s why. 

There’s about five hundred other things you can do besides self medicating. Self medicating isn’t just alcohol. It could be doing dangerous drugs, cutting or self mutilating in any way, over or under-eating, or even staying in bed for days instead of facing your responsibilities. 

If it feels good but is self destructive, it’s self medicating.

I’ve complied a list of 25 things you can do instead of self medicating or self harm. Please feel free to take your favorites and write them down in case you need them one day, and add some of your own personal touch to that list. 

One more thing, these aren’t ways to make you feel better. There’s no way to force depression out of your head. This is meant to distract you from self – harming ways so that when you do feel better you won’t have done something that’s dangerous or bad for you. 

So here goes. Instead of self-harm, you can:

1. Call or text a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. 

2. Cook something new. 

3. Take a short nap. 

4. Draw a picture 

5. Read a book or an article (there are so many about coping skills).

6. Play with your pet 

7. Take a shower or bath (my saying is a shower always makes me feel 20% better no matter what). 

8. Make a list of positive things in your life. (Even if you can’t access them it’s nice to know they’re there. And yes, I promise you, there’s something positive in your life, even if it’s hard to see it at the moment.) 

 9. Write a letter to your older self. 

10. Watch a movie or show.  

11. Listen to music. 

12. Go through your closet and donate clothes you don’t want anymore.  

13.  Hug someone. 

14. Call your therapist. (This helped me many times.) 

15. Look at old home videos 

16. Get a haircut 

17. For anyone who wears makeup (look up tutorials on YouTube and try a new look. 

18. Start to learn a new instrument 

19. Go for a short walk 

20. Focus on your breathing for five minutes

21. Drink a big glass of water and eat a snack 

22. Organize your room. (Even just walking around with a trash bag and picking a few things up can make your room feel so much cleaner.)

23. Go on ancestry.com and do their free trial. (You can find some pretty cool stuff about your family tree there). 

24. Learn a new word. 

25. Go to the dollar store with $5 and buy things. 

Not all of these will be perfect for your situation, but I’m betting some will get you out of a bind at some point or another. 

As always, keep on keepin’ on friends. 

Feels good to write again.  

-Jess

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