Coping Techniques

(PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS PAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION AND IS CONSTANTLY BEING UPDATED)

Before going any further with providing a list of coping techniques I think that it is perhaps worth mentioning that the choice to self-harm is for many people seen as a coping technique in its own right.

The problem with this is of course is that it is not a very good or very healthy one and thus alternative coping techniques which can be employed instead of self-harming are always more advisable.

So here is a list of potential coping techniques that folk have tried and found to be useful.

Please note that:

1)  We are all very different and that, whilst we might share certain commonalities, finding the technique or techniques that work for you personally in the situation and circumstance of the moment of need is important and can be a real bonus.

For sake of ease the techniques listed below are separated into sections according to common real or perceived needs behind self-harming…

List
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A need to feel something.

A need to vent anger or tension.

A need to express.

A need to distract from other stressors, thoughts or circumstances.

A need to connect with something tangible.

A need to feel grounded.

A need to punish oneself.

A need to relax or be soothed.

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A need to feel something.

Seek out healthier, safer and more positive sensations which allow you to feel but to do so in a safe and healthy way.  Here are some suggestions of how you can do this…

Do some exercise if you are able.  Set yourself some rigorous but safe exercises to do and complete those exercises to the best of your ability.  Feeling spent after a rigorous exercise session can be a great feeling.

Taking a shower can help.  Whether you choose to take a cold or hot shower depends on your mood – but try to make it so that it is slightly colder or hotter than you would normally take so that it affords you a real and tangible feeling sensation.  EXERCISE CAUTION.  Do not make it either so cold or so hot that it causes you damage in any way.

Get some ice-cubes and hold them in your hand.  Hold them in your hands and simply allow them to melt. If you don’t have any ice-cubes packs of frozen vegetables may work.  The coldness of the ice-cubes oo frozen vegetable packs will afford you a very real and tangible feeling.

Watch a film which you know affects you emotionally but not in long-lasting or negative way.  Watching a film which makes you cry is not a bad thing and actually can be a healthy release providing it does not in turn remind you of your own circumstances or lead to lowered moods.

Smell perfumes and scents.  Using our senses is often a good way to help us feel.  Smelling perfumes and strong scents can really help where other techniques are not available to us.

Frozen Peas on a tray.  Grab a tray and empty some frozen peas onto it and then place it on the floor by your feet.  Remove your socks and shoes and sit with your feet on the tray.  Push down but only with a safe amount of pressure.  The small, hard and cold shapes of the peas pushing against your bare soles will provide real and tangible sensations without hurting or harming yourself.  remember not to stand up on them.

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A need to vent anger or tension.

We all need to vent anger tension at some time.  Explore that need but do so in a less-harmful and safe way and do so with the specific intent and mindset that having done so you would have answered that need….

For example…

If you are able to exercise, set yourself some rigorous but safe exercises to do and complete those exercises to the best of your ability.  Feeling spent after a rigorous exercise session can be a great feeling.

Grab some plain paper and some colouring pencils, felt tips or crayons and just let go on that paper. Write, graffiti, draw, paint, sketch, what ever appeals and works for you best.  Fill the page full of curse words and expletives if you need to or alternatively simply allow yourself the freedom of writing out what is on your mind without thinking about it all first.

Once you are satisfied that you have vented enough, decide what you want to do with the results.  Be wise in your decision.  You may want to destroy them so that others don’t see them or alternatively it may be better to keep them and share them with your psychiatrist or therapist.

Gather and rip up all the old cardboard and paper that you no longer need. (Magazines, newspapers, letters etc) and rip them apart.  This is not only a great way of venting but if you have an open fireplace and often light a fire, can then also be used for this.

Trying punching a cushion or a pillow or even your bed.  Just as long as it is soft and inanimate and it is safe for you to do so it is a very good way to vent.

Alternatively try screaming into the cushion or pillow or even your bed.  Stifling the sound will reduce any disturbance to your neighbors and will allow you to vent freely.

Try squeezing stress balls or if you don’t have stress balls.  Plasticine Play-Doh, or modelling clay serve just as well.

Make some noise.  For example put your favourite music on and sing your heart out.  Just be careful that the music you listen to is not music that lowers your mood and please be considerate of others around you.

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A need to express.

Contact a trusted friend.  Tell them what is happening and express how you are feeling.  Remember the idea is to afford you the ability to express yourself safely without harming yourself but also without harming anyone else so be cautious in who you choose and indeed how often you contact that same friend in this way.

Keep a journal/diary.  Keeping a journal or diary in which you express your feelings can be a great way of expressing yourself.  Some consideration should be given to how safe that information is and indeed who could find that journal or diary but generally speaking it is a very good thing to do.  Nowadays you can keep online and password protected journals if you are worried about your journal being discovered and read by the wrong person.  Another benefit of keeping a journal is that should you wish to share something with your psychiatrist or therapist it is easy to access.

Write a letter.  It really doesn’t matter who to as long as you trust that person or feel confident and safe in writing it.  Even writing a letter to someone and not actually sending it, or indeed writing to someone from your past who is no longer with us, and never sending it can be extremely beneficial in terms of providing a release.  Remember to safely destroy any letters you don’t want anyone to find.

Write a blog.  Blogs are great for expressing how you are feeling and doing so where you can also get feedback although obviously this in itself does carry some potential for inappropriate and unhelpful responses.  It is possible to make a blog and to keep your identity completely anonymous nowadays and this in itself can afford added freedom to express.

Write a story.  Story writing can also be a great release and can afford you the ability to transfer how you are feeling into a third or imaginary person.  Additionally this can allow you to step away from  the situations you are facing and to try out different scenarios and solutions.

Write some poetry.  Poetry is a great medium for expression and additionally it has the added benefit of allowing you to focus as much on the construct of the poem as the content thereby affording expression and distraction at the same time.

Write a song.  Writing song lyrics, or indeed music itself, can do much the same as poetry in terms of expression and can be a great way of expressing yourself.

Paint or Draw a Picture.  If you aren’t great with words but feel you could paint or draw a picture this can be an excellent way of expressing yourself.  Place you feelings down on the paper through your pictures.  Who knows you may discover a real talent as well.

Model some clay.  Modelling clay or Plasticine or even Play-Doh is a very tactile way of expressing yourself.  You can create characters, set up scenes, express yourself and then once you are through decide whether to keep it or simply mash it all up and start again next time you feel the need to express.

Make a video.  With the advent of Youtube and the such as well as webcams, phone-cams and the such making videos is much easier nowadays.  expressing yourself through a video can be really beneficial but some caution should be held concerning who gets to see that video and who will be affected by it if they did see it.

Pray.  Prayer can be an excellent way of expressing yourself and thankfully also affords you with someone very real and caring who is willing to listen and to do so in confidence.  Express yourself through your prayers, be real and be honest and be open and remember that prayer is meant to be a dialogue not just a monologue.

Photography.  Photography, either the taking of photos yourself or collating and putting together a photo storyboard using other photos and pictures available on the net can again be a great way of expressing yourself.

Right Now I iz…  Is a blog where you can simply go and anonymously add a comment saying how you are feeling in order to express yourself or vent.  Comments are published under simple and safe rules and all comments are published anonymously with no contact or responses being made.  The blog can be found at Right Now, I iz….

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A need to distract from other stressors, thoughts or circumstances.

Distraction, just like Grounding, is extremely important when your mind goes off to other things that are stressful or harmful to you.   Here are some suggestions on how to stay grounded or to distract your mind from other stressors, thoughts or circumstances.  Push thoughts of the past and the future out of your mind and focus on the present.

Contact a trusted friend.  Talk about what is happening in their life, what is happening at school or college or work or the club or social group you both belong to.

Inventory your surroundings.  Look around you.  Make a mental list of what is around you and verbalize what is there.  Describe everything in detail as if you are making an insurance claim or something.

Pamper yourself.  Do your nails, brush your teeth, comb your hair and focus on the way it makes you feel right there and then.  Describe the feelings to yourself.

Do some exercise if you are able.  Set yourself some rigorous but safe exercises to do and complete those exercises to the best of your ability.  Focus only on completing those exercises and the sense of achievement you will feel as a result of it.

Clean and Tidy.  Decide it is time for a clean up and what you want to do to make things tidier.  Move your furniture around if you are able and see it as your taking control of the now.  Clean cupboards if they need cleaning and rearrange the things in the cupboard so that they are tidier and more accessible.  If you have pets clean and tidy their living or sleeping areas.

Journal where you are.    Make a diary or journal entry detailing what you are doing and what is around you.  Focusing on small details that are specific on your environment at that time.

Do laundry.  If you have laundry that needs to be done how about doing it now?  Make a verbal list of the clothes you are putting into the washer or the drier or that you are ironing.  Focus on that task of getting it done.

Verbalize Eating Something healthy and appealing.  Find something healthy and appealing to eat and slowly eat it savouring every last bite.  Verbally describe what you are doing as you are doing it.  Pretend you are explaining it to an alien who has never experienced it.  What are you eating? Why are you eating it?  What does it look like?  What does it taste like?  What flavours can you taste?  What sensations are you experiencing?  Is it sticky, dry? wet? hot? Cold?  Really focus on it and describe it in detail.

Read.  Think of some books or literature that you have read and that really encouraged and spoke to you in a good way.  Getting ‘lost’ in a story can be a great distraction from other stressors, circumstances or thoughts.  Whether it is the Bible or a story or even a childhood storybook that meant something to you, if you re able to fully focus on that and it absorbs you, then it can really help.

Listen to healthy music.  I know that may sound a little strange but trust me there are for most of us music that is healthy for us and music that is unhealthy for us.  Why not make a Cd of songs which you can really relate to and that also encourage you.  When you need a distraction from other thoughts you can put it on and focus on that music and the lyrics of the songs you have chosen.

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A need to connect with something tangible.

Using our senses can be a great way of connecting with something tangible but doing so in a safer way than feeling pain or harming ourself is always advisable.  Here are some good ways to do so…

Do some exercise if you are able.  Set yourself some rigorous but safe exercises to do and complete those exercises to the best of your ability.  Feeling spent after a rigorous exercise session can be a great feeling.

Taking a shower can help.  Whether you choose to take a cold or hot shower depends on your mood – but try to make it so that it is slightly colder or hotter than you would normally take so that it affords you a real and tangible feeling sensation.  EXERCISE CAUTION.  Do not make it either so cold or so hot that it causes you damage in any way.

Get some ice-cubes and hold them in your hand.  Hold them in your hands and simply allow them to melt. If you don’t have any ice-cubes packs of frozen vegetables may work.  The coldness of the ice-cubes oo frozen vegetable packs will afford you a very real and tangible feeling.

Touch Sensations.  Additional to the ice-cubes or shower techniques, there are numerous other safe touch or feel sensations that you can explore.  Exploring and really considering how such things as; different soft fabrics, household and food items, cuddly toys, and the such feel on your fingers tips or running them through your fingers – or your fingers through them (fur etc) can really help you connect and feel something.

Pet care.  Spending time with your pets, especially ones that are tactile can be a very good way of feeling something tangible.

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A need to stay grounded.

Grounding is extremely important when your mind goes off to other things that are stressful or harmful to you.   Here are some suggestions on how to stay grounded or to distract your mind from other stressors, thoughts or circumstances.  Push thoughts of the past and the future out of your mind and focus on the present.

Contact a trusted friend.  Talk about what is happening in their life, what is happening at school or college or work or the club or social group you both belong to.

Inventory your surroundings.  Look around you.  Make a mental list of what is around you and verbalize what is there.  Describe everything in detail as if you are making an insurance claim or something.

Pamper yourself.  Do your nails, brush your teeth, comb your hair and focus on the way it makes you feel right there and then.  Describe the feelings to yourself.

Do some exercise if you are able.  Set yourself some rigorous but safe exercises to do and complete those exercises to the best of your ability.  Focus only on completing those exercises and the sense of achievement you will feel as a result of it.

Clean and Tidy.  Decide it is time for a clean up and what you want to do to make things tidier.  Move your furniture around if you are able and see it as your taking control of the now.  Clean cupboards if they need cleaning and rearrange the things in the cupboard so that they are tidier and more accessible.  If you have pets clean and tidy their living or sleeping areas.

Journal where you are.    Make a diary or journal entry detailing what you are doing and what is around you.  Focusing on small details that are specific on your environment at that time.

Do laundry.  If you have laundry that needs to be done how about doing it now?  Make a verbal list of the clothes you are putting into the washer or the drier or that you are ironing.  Focus on that task of getting it done.

Verbalize Eating Something healthy and appealing.  Find something healthy and appealing to eat and slowly eat it savouring every last bite.  Verbally describe what you are doing as you are doing it.  Pretend you are explaining it to an alien who has never experienced it.  What are you eating? Why are you eating it?  What does it look like?  What does it taste like?  What flavours can you taste?  What sensations are you experiencing?  Is it sticky, dry? wet? hot? Cold?  Really focus on it and describe it in detail.

Pray.  Think of all the people you know well – starting with your immediate family and then working outwards to more distant family, friends etc and try to pray for one thing which you think each of them needs right now in their lives.  Focusing on them and on their current needs is a great way to remain grounded.

Increasing Vowels Game.  Go through you home or wherever you may be and try to find different things beginning with each of the vowels. A, E, I, O and then U.  Start by trying to find one thing beginning with each of them, then two, then three, and so forth until the urge to self harm has passed.

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A need to punish oneself.

The whole question of needing to punish yourself is controversial and questionable at best.  Remember understanding and forgiveness are far more powerful responses than punishment.  But if you do still feel the need to punish yourself try doing so in a safer, healthier and more productive way…

Exercise.  Having a set of exercises that you have to do and which have some safe level of difficulty or effort to them and doing them whenever you feel the need to punish yourself is a much healthier way of responding to this need.  Set yourself a different number of the different types of exercise for different levels of need but do so safely and wisely.

Chores.  Doing chores instead of harming yourself by way of punishment is a good way of not only responding to your need but also achieving something useful at the end of it.  Clean and Tidy your room, closets, cupboards, floors, bathrooms, etc or washing the car can all be very productive and can give you a real sense of having responded but having done so constructively.

Pet care.  If you have pets why not set yourself the task of cleaning out their sleeping or living area or if you have a dog, why not set yourself the task of taking them for a walk or giving them a bath?

Clear outs.  Do you have lots of old junk that you have been meaning to, or that your partner or parent or room-mate has been on at you to get tid of.  Why not, instead of physically punishing yourself, give yourself the task of sorting these things out and taking them to a charity shop or the trash?

Assignments.  Give yourself assignments and have them prepared and ready to give yourself when the need to punish yourself arises.  They can be any subject you so wish – Maths, English, geography, Music, Art, Science.  Whatever you have an interest in.  Look for online sites that afford you a place to go and do these assignments and which also afford you the ability to map your progress.  Alternatively why not learn a new skill or language and use these times as additional times where you develop this.  Again online sites are good for this.

Reading.  Set yourself the task of reading that book you have always mean to read but have never gotten around too.  When you feel the need to punish yourself assign yourself a certain amount of time reading it or a certain number of chapters that you have to get through.

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A need to relax or to be soothed.

Pamper yourself.  Do your nails, brush your teeth, comb or brush your hair and focus on the way it makes you feel right there and then.  Describe the feelings to yourself.  Enjoy the moment.

Shower or Bath.  Take a nice relaxing shower or soak in the bath.  Allow yourself to use the good soap or body lotion, bath salts or scents.

Massage.  This can be a great thing if you have a partner or even to do yourself once you know how.  Use essential oils, or lotions that make you feel good.

Soft Drinks.  Make yourself a nice cup of refreshing and relaxing herbal tea or a soft drink of your choice which you find relaxing.  Warm milk, hot chocolate, cocoa, whatever relaxes and/or soothes you.

Ice-cream.  Break out the ice-cream and give yourself a nice bowl full.  Curl up  in the arm-chair, on the couch or in the bed and enjoy it.

Music.  If you have music which means something to you and which always relaxes you, why not make yourself a CD of them all or create a playlist of them on your phone or ipod and then when you need relaxing treat yourself to taking a moment to just relax and listen to them.

Chocolate.  Go to your secret stash of chocolate and allow yourself to do so, providing that this isn’t contrary to a strict diet or against doctor’s orders.  Remember the idea is to treat yourself without further or resultant guilt.

Combination.  Of course you can always do a combination of the above. Don’t limit yourself to just one where you need more than what one will provide.

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3 thoughts on “Coping Techniques

  1. […] forms. HomeAbout Reson8 FreedomAbout Self- HarmingAbout The AuthorContentCoping Techniques Mar 14 2012 Leave a comment By boldkevin Coping Mechanisms, Coping skills, Coping […]

  2. […] Reson8 FreedomAbout Self- HarmingAbout The AuthorAWARDS RECEIVEDContentCoping Techniques Jun 11 2012 Leave a comment By boldkevin Coping Mechanisms, Coping skills, Coping […]

  3. […] those that do, here is a blog with a lot of coping tips, coping techniques please take a look at it. Read Kevin’s bio, to show this is not written by just another […]

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