This post isn't meant to be some kind of prescriptive list; it's not something to tick off. It's something that I hope will help you to find a way that works for you when you feel like self-harming is the only option. It's by no means an exhaustive list, but I've combined all the things that have worked in the past for me with things that have helped friends and acquaintances.
I went to and fro with the idea of making the title for this 'things you could do instead of self-harming', but here we are. I struggled with self harm for a few years, and whilst I'd now class myself as 'recovered', it's still something that I think about, and something I want to raise awareness on, reduce taboo and help others with. I've spoken about my own self harm story here, so I won't be going over it in this post.
Do something destructive (but not to yourself)
1.) Get a red biro and scribble all over a piece of paper as hard as you can.
2.) Tip your recycling out of its box. Stamp all over it.
3.) Shred all the paper you've been meaning to get rid of.
4.) Write about the urge, then burn the piece of paper.
5.) Put your favourite music on and sing at the top of your lungs until your throat is sore
6.) Draw on yourself with washable red pen, and then rinse it off
7.) Throw balled up socks against the wall
8.) Get a punching bag, or head to the gym and punch it out
9.) Make something out of playdough. Squash it
10.) Scream into a pillow
11.) Play a phone game like fruit ninja (remember that one?), where it's all about fast moments on the screen.
12.) Use a stress ball
Do something creative
13.) Find some paints, and splatter them on paper by flicking your brush.
14.) Create a playlist of songs that make you feel good
15.) Try your hand at poetry; express how you're feeling in another way
16.) Use a wreck this journal, or similar
17.) Do some knitting
18.) Get a jigsaw puzzle out and be absorbed
19.) Draw on yourself with washable red pen, and then rinse it off
20.) Pop bubble wrap
21.) Rip paper up into tiny little pieces
22.) Start a scrapbook
23.) Bake something that requires kneading
Get out of the situation
24.) Leave the house, plug earphones in and go for a walk, blasting your fave songs
25.) Take a walk in the rain, and shout at the top of your lungs
26.) Go somewhere public, where you know you can't self harm
27.) Head to a local park. Take in everything around you
28.) Go for a run. Let the pounding of your feet against the ground soothe you
29.) Think about your future plans. If nothing excites you at the moment, make a new plan
30.) Weed your garden. Get some fresh air and destroy those weeds
Do something to take care of yourself
31.) Have a hot shower (but not too hot) - spend time exfoliating and moisturising and reminding yourself that you are worthy of love
32.) Do some yoga
33.) Light your favourite candles, turn off the main lights, put your cosiest PJs on and order your fave food
34.) Have a social media detox. Put your phone away and don't look at anything that you know will trigger you
35.) Let yourself cry, even if it's hard
36.) Use the Calm harm app, and find an activity on it that works for you
37.) Re-alphabetise your books, or re-organise your wardrobe. Do something that helps you feel as though your life is in order
38.) Put on a full face of your favourite makeup and take some great selfies
39.) Watch Youtube videos from people you find soothing/inspiring
40.) Listen to white noise and focus on your breathing
41.) Make a list of all the reasons why you don't want to self harm
42.) Make an appointment at the doctors to discuss how you're feeling
43.) Clean all those parts of the house you've been avoiding. Give everything a good scrub
44.) Hug a soft toy
45.) Think about the bigger picture. What's causing these feelings - what led up to this. Write down all the things that contributed to wanting to self harm
46.) Repeat an affirmative mantra, even if it is just 'I do not need to do this, I am worthy of loving myself'
47.) Message someone who already knows about the self harm. Let them know you're struggling
48.) Ask someone you love for a little physical contact. It's unbelievable what a long hug can do
49.) Write a letter to someone you haven't seen in a while. You don't have to send it
50.) Get in touch with a helpline. The Samaritans are a fab place to start