The skills list
Skills to cope
- Focus on your breathing. Feel each breath, count them and vary the pace of your breathing
- Clench one part of your body at a time for 10 seconds, relax and then clench another body part (fist, face etc.)
- Pay attention to your senses, observe and describe one thing you experience via each sense (smell, hearing, etc.)
- Call a friend or a helpline
- Use the 10-minute rule; commit to not harming yourself for 10 minutes. When 10 minutes have passed, commit to another 10 minutes
- Pick an object and try to think of 30 ways to use it
- Pick an object and describe its qualities such as shape, weight and colour
- Come up with as many names as you can starting with the same letter
- Talk to yourself
- Say the alphabet backwards
- Listen to music that you like
- Play a game on your smartphone
- Think of an object or a person and search the internet for more information about it
- Watch a film or a TV series
- Sort things you have at home by size or colour
- Clean up
- Take a cold shower or wash your face with cold water
- Stand on something and try to keep your balance
- Buy beads and mix them in a big jar. Then sort them by colour
- Read a book, newspaper or comic
- Paint your nails, put on a facemask or take a bath
- Draw something in detail
Skills to express powerful emotions
- Write down your thoughts and feelings
- Write to someone who has upset you, even if you don’t send it
- Put a plaster on a part of your body where you would otherwise have harmed yourself
- Paint your body
- Tear some paper into tiny pieces
- Scream into a pillow or punch it
- Dance to music
- Inflate balloons and burst them
Skills to cope with negative emotions
- Do the opposite. When you want to harm yourself, do something comforting or pleasant instead
- Look at yourself in the mirror and write a list about the body parts or qualities you like the most about yourself
- Play or cuddle with animals
Before you harm yourself, ALWAYS ask yourself these questions:
- What am I feeling right now?
- Why am I feeling the way that I am?
- Why do I want to harm myself?
- Have I been through this before? If so, what did I do to manage the situation? If I wasn’t able to manage the situation, what could I do for it to be better this time?
- If I were to harm myself right now, how would it feel?
- If I harm myself right now, how would it feel in an hour or tomorrow?
- Is there anything left for me to try before harming myself?
- Do I really want and need to harm myself?
Keep these questions easily accessible and pick five skills from the list above in advance to try before harming yourself next time.