Self-Harm Prevention Exercises

June 16, 2022 Kim Berkley

The road of self-injury recovery is a long and winding one, but these self-harm prevention exercises can help make it easier to stick to that road over the long run.

Before You Try These Self-Harm Prevention Exercises, Do This

First, a disclaimer: Everybody is different. Every body is different. What works for one person may not work the same way, or at all, for another.

This is especially true in the realm of mental health. There is no one self-harm prevention exercise that is guaranteed to work for everyone, every time. The idea is to try things out, see how they feel, see how much they help and then decide whether they are right for you.

This process of elimination is typically best undertaken with the help of a therapist or other mental health professional, someone who knows all of the options at your disposal and can help you effectively discover which fit you and your life best.

That being said, all of the self-harm prevention exercises on this list can be done on your own, and they can help even if you don't have that extra support right now. But please consider reaching out, if you haven't already, to at least one person who can be at your side through the recovery process. It's easier to heal with help than on your own.

Self-Harm Prevention Exercises to Try

Here are a few self-harm prevention exercises I've tried over the years that have helped me get and stay clean.

  • Urge surfing—This meditative exercise has helped me cope with overwhelm and resist the urge to self-harm in the moment.
  • Distraction—When in doubt, keep your hands and mind busy until an urge lessens to a degree you can cope with.
  • Journaling—Regular journaling helps me vent difficult emotions in a safe way and work through them before I get to a tipping point.
  • Cognitive restructuring—Taking negative thoughts and challenging them to achieve a healthier outlook on life and minimize overwhelm can also work.
  • Identifying triggers—List out all the possible triggers you've been dealing with, then decide how to cope with each individually, one at a time.

Note that these are just a few of the options available to you. Start with the ones that appeal to you most, and try not to try too many out all at once—this can quickly get overwhelming. Just try one or two at first, and take it one step at a time from there.

Do you have other self-harm prevention exercises that have worked for you or a loved one? Please feel free to share them in the comments!

APA Reference
Kim Berkley (2022, June 16). Self-Harm Prevention Exercises, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 19 from

Author: Kim Berkley

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