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Seven steps to be self-harm free
by Rob August 4th 2012, 05:05 PM

Seven steps to be self-harm free
By Jordan (MacGuffin)

Millions of teenagers today struggle with the issue of self-mutilation, or the intentional self-infliction of bodily injury. According to a recent study published in Reuters, one in twelve teenagers are thought to engage in self-harming behaviors, with girls between the ages of 15 and 24 being at the greatest risk. In addition, people who self-harm pose an increased risk of suicide. According to the study, someone who is treated in a hospital for self-injury is one hundred times more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the population.

Not only is self-harm a scary thing for the loved ones of a person who is self-harming, but it can be a scary thing for the one who harms themselves as well. This person may want to stop their behavior but not know how. Whether you or someone you know self-harms, these steps can help lead to greater success at recovering from self-harm for good. If someone experiences self-harm as a manifestation of a psychological disorder, these steps can be used in conjunction with the regular treatment methods they may already be receiving.

Step one: Know why you self-harm

Itís very hard to quit a habit if you donít know why you do it. Therefore, itís important to figure out exactly why it is you self-harm. In many cases self-injuring behavior can relate to difficulty coping with certain problems or issues that you are experiencing. It's essential to know what problem(s) or issue(s) you are struggling with in order to effectively address them. Once you figure out what your reason(s) for self-harming are you are one step closer to being able to stop.

Step two: Know what you get out of self-harm

Determine what benefits you receive from self-harming, including the secondary benefits, or the benefits not directly related to what you wish to accomplish when you self-harm. Perhaps self-harm distracts you from your emotions, but it also may be used to seek attention from other people. Maybe it allows you to manipulate the people in your life. Perhaps it makes you feel more in control of your life, or in control of a situation that makes you feel particularly powerless. Knowing what benefits you derive from self-harm can determine what need(s) you are attempting to fulfill with those behaviors.

Step three: Know why you want to stop

If self-harm is your primary coping mechanism it's going to be very difficult to stop. Itís a behavior that has to be unlearned, and that process can go more smoothly if you have a solid reason for why you want to stop. Keep this reason in your mind at all times; make it the foundation upon which you will build your recovery. For example, you may not want to have scars, or perhaps you don't want to upset significant others. Maybe you no longer want to feel the pain that is a result of self harm. If you need to, write the reason down so you can remind yourself every day why you want to stop. Keep it in a wallet or somewhere easily accessible.

Step four: Make a game plan

Learning new coping strategies won't happen overnight. Itís a process that takes dedication and commitment. In the meantime you may feel the urge to cope with issues by engaging in your old coping skill. Itís important to have a game plan ahead of time in order to know what exactly you will do if you feel the need to self-harm. Write down the steps you will take if you find yourself wanting to self-harm. First, know how you can remove yourself from a tempting situation. For example, if being in your room will tempt you to self-harm, perhaps you could go hang out with a friend, or go for a walk. Have a prepared list of alternatives that you can do in place of self-harming. Try to have at least seven available to you.

Step five: seek a supportive environment

The journey to quit self-harming isnít something you have to do alone. Itís very hard to take this big step on your own, and the support of family and friends can make a big difference in your success. Donít be afraid to let people know what youíre doing and to ask for help from them when you need it, and donít be afraid to seek professional help. Itís ALWAYS best to seek professional help sooner rather than later.

Itís just as important to remove negative influences from your life as it is to surround yourself with positive ones. It can be difficult to move forward if you are still exposed to people, places, objects, or circumstances that can trigger your desire to self-injure. Eliminating these influences from your life can help provide you with a safe and healthy environment in which to pursue your recovery.

Step six: Build a life worth living

Oftentimes people that self-harm struggle with enjoying their lives. Itís vital to your happiness and recovery that you have a life you feel is worth living. Find activities that bring you satisfaction and do at least one of them every day. Do you enjoy being around children? Perhaps you could take up babysitting, or tutor kids after school. Have you always wanted to learn ceramics? Take a class at your community center. Do you feel most relaxed when you are outdoors? Hike on a regular basis. Donít forget the little things; listening to good music, eating your favorite meal or enjoying an afternoon off can go a long way.

Step seven: Be forgiving

Quitting self-harm is not an easy task. There are times when you may experience a setback. If you do, itís not a time to berate yourself, but a time to show yourself compassion and forgiveness. Donít give up on yourself because you have a setback; instead, acknowledge how hard you have been working and reaffirm that you will keep pushing forward. Itís important to learn to show kindness to yourself. No matter what, stay positive and keep moving forward. The road to a healthy recovery just takes one step at a time.
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