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5 Steps to Take If You Have Thoughts of Self-Harm

The stigma around mental health may have decreased since the pandemic’s beginning, but there is still so much work to be done. Self-harm is often misunderstood by those who have never experienced self-harming thoughts. Even though around 10-13% of young people and more than 6% of adults reported having self-harmed at some point during their lives, many common misconceptions still occur. 

People of any age, gender, sexuality, nationality, and socioeconomic background can experience self-harming or suicidal thoughts. But just because one feels that way does not mean something is wrong with them. By taking the right steps towards healing and leaning on friends for support, you can start feeling back to normal again. 

If someone is worried they are experiencing self-harming thoughts or have self-harmed, there are steps they can take to help take back control and to learn healthier coping mechanisms to be able to handle overwhelming emotions or stress that is making them feel this way. Some may even integrate CBD or medical cannabis into their routine to help give them an extra helping hand to cope. 

To safely access medical marijuana in Florida and other lab-tested CBD products, one must first get a recommendation from a Medical Marijuana Doctor. 

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What Is Self-Harm? 

Self-harm can be classified in various ways, but in general, many health experts refer to it as nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). NSSI is causing intentional injury or damage to one’s body without suicidal intent. Common forms of NSSI include: 

● Cutting 

● Punching 

● Burning 

● Scratching 

● Biting 

● Hitting 

● Carving 

● Excessive exercising 

● Pulling one’s own hair 

● Purposely engaging in physical fights 

The above-mentioned actions are abnormal coping mechanisms for controlling negative or unwanted emotions such as pain or sadness. Some people who self-harm sometimes have similar physical and psychological responses to their behaviors as people with addictions do when they experience urges. Similarly, those with eating disorders also experience psychological relief through their behaviors. All of these behaviors fall into the category of addictive behaviors.

If someone is purposefully doing something that they know will cause them pain, it could be a sign that they are self-harming and may need a little extra help and support to find new, healthier ways to cope with things. 

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Why Do People Self-Harm? 

There are many reasons why people self-harm. Some people self-harm to deal with something that happened in the past. Others do it to help them cope with something that is causing them stress or making them upset. Some people do it to connect with others who are self-harming. 

Common experiences that could affect one’s ability to cope and could lead to self-harming thoughts can include: 

● health problems or illness 

● depression, anxiety, and PTSD, 

● increased stress 

● financial worries or unemployment 

● pressure at school, university, home, or work 

● emotional, physical, or online bullying 

● changes or a breakdown in your relationship, or confusion about your sexuality

● low self-esteem 

● the death of a loved one 

Regardless of the reasoning behind self-harming, it is important that those who are struggling understand that they are not alone and have other, more healthy options to cope with their problems. 

Ways to Tell if Someone is Engaged in Self-Harm

There are a few telltale signs a person is engaging in self-harming acts. Here are a few different things to be on the lookout for if you think someone in your life is self-harming: 

● Some people have cuts, gashes, bruises, or burns on their hands, wrists, stomach, or thighs. These are the most common sites of self-harm; however, self-injury can occur anywhere on the body. 

● They wear long-sleeved shirts and other clothing covering their body, even in warm weather. This can signify they are attempting to cover up their self-inflicted wounds.

● Individuals may avoid activities that expose the body, such as swimming. 

● They express feelings of anxiety or depression. 

● Some attempt other unusual behaviors such as hair pulling or picking.

● In some cases, they may follow various social media accounts that promote self-harming behaviors.

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5 Steps to Take to Cope with Self-Harming Thoughts

Self-harm can become a vicious cycle. Emotional suffering can cause one to feel overwhelmed. You can take a few steps if you or someone you love is engaging in self-harming behaviors. 

1. Identify Triggers for Self-Harm

The first thing to do when coping with self-harming thoughts is to identify what triggers a person to have those feelings. Learning to recognize triggers can make it easier to track your health and well-being prior to a crisis. The more aware one is of what can cause self-harming thoughts, the better-prepared one can be when these situations arise in the future. 

Keeping track of when a person self-harms can help one to spot patterns around what they were doing, which emotions they were feeling, or what they were thinking about before they self-harmed. Are there any specific feelings, situations, places, or even people who were present when the urge arose? 

Over time, this can help spot early warning signs and find distractions that help break the train of thought that can lead to destructive behavior. 

2. Explore New Ways of Coping With Emotional Triggers

Once a person has identified what triggers them, discovering new ways they can distract themselves and cope with how they are feeling can help change self-harming behaviors into something better. Many people self-harm as a way to deal with feelings, thoughts, and difficult situations that can be overwhelming. Here are a few examples of different ways a person can healthily express themselves: 

● Painting, drawing, or doodling 

● Listen to music that reflects how you are feeling 

● Journal or write down your thoughts 

● Exercise or take a long walk 

Different forms of artistic release can help us to explore and express thoughts, feelings, and emotions in a new way. When it’s hard to articulate things, art can offer an outlet. Other ways to cope with difficult feelings can be by taking a warm bath, meditating, giving yourself a massage, and doing other types of relaxing activities. 

If they need help calming their anxieties, CBD and medical marijuana might be a good option for them. Studies have shown that CBD decreases anxiety and troubling thoughts. It can help a person quiet their mind and recenter themselves whenever they are considering a harmful action.

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3. Speak with a Licensed Therapist 

While it can sometimes be intimidating, speaking with a licensed mental health therapist can be very helpful when coping with self-harm. There are plenty of options available for those who are self-harming, even ones that are more affordable like support groups and online virtual counseling. 

There are a few different therapy methods to manage self-harm and mental illness. They include the following: 

● Cognitive behavioral therapy (also known as “talking therapy”) 

● Medicine such as an antidepressant or anxiety medicine 

● CBD and Medical Cannabis, which can easily be accessed through getting a recommendation from a qualified Medical Marijuana Physician. 

● Psychotherapy, or counseling, can help stabilize thoughts and feelings by identifying the cause of the emotional stress and then teaching the skills to help address the problem in a healthy way. 

4. Develop a Support System 

Seeking help from others can be extremely helpful in one’s journey to stop self-harming. Finding a local support group, becoming a member of an online form, or even just talking with a friend can be helpful in developing a support system when someone is at their lowest. When someone finds a person they can open up to and confide in, they can find inspiration to heal themselves. Opening up can help them come to terms with the struggle and come up with other ways to cope. 

5. Practicing Mindfulness and Other Relaxation Techniques 

Mindfulness can help us to feel grounded and remain present in the moment. When people find themselves thinking negatively and their minds begin to wander, mindfulness can be a great way to reconnect to the present. Activities such as meditating and yoga are easy ways to relax when dealing with troubling thoughts. 

Overall, self-harm is a serious issue that needs to be taken seriously. If you or a loved one are dealing with self-harm issues, book an appointment with a licensed therapist today!