Seeking help for self-harm behavior is necessary however you must be willing to seek treatment and put in the effort required to manage the urges to engage in self-harm behavior. It is important to find a way to express your feelings in a positive way. Distractions and learning how to communicate are two important ways to work through your thoughts and feelings.

Create healthy distractions. Whether you are having a stressful day, are faced with negative comments, are constantly battling urges to self-harm or are overcome with destructive thoughts; distractions can be a powerful tool to help delay the urge to engage in self-harm behavior. Treatment teaches you healthy coping distractions but it is your choice to practice these once you have successfully completed treatment. Helping create a list of healthy self-soothing behaviors and support for different uncomfortable emotions can also be beneficial. For example, when feeling angry, squeeze ice, rip up newspaper, use clay or Play-Doh to keep your hands busy. Other ideas include taking a warm bath, playing with your pet or friend’s pet, doing favors or errands for someone else, or listening to music. You do not have to be alone in this battle of self-harm however you do have to ask for help when in need and find coping strategies that work for you.

Focus on your feelings.

Instead of sharing detailed accounts of your self-harm behavior with others, try to focus on the feelings or situations that lead to these behaviors. This can help the person you’re confiding in better understand where you’re coming from. It also helps to let the person know why you’re telling them. Do you want help or advice from them? Do you simply want another person to know so you can let go of the secret?

Communicate in whatever way you feel most comfortable.

If you’re too nervous to talk in person, consider starting off the conversation with an email or letter (although it’s important to eventually follow-up with a face-to-face conversation). Don’t feel pressured into sharing things you’re not ready to talk about. You don’t have to show the person your injuries or answer any questions you don’t feel comfortable answering.

Give the person time to process what you tell them.

As difficult as it is for you to open up, it may also be difficult for the person you tell, especially if it’s a close friend or family member. Sometimes, you may not like the way the person reacts. Try to remember that reactions such as shock, anger, and fear come out of concern for you. It may help to print out this article for the people you choose to tell. The better they understand self-harm, the better able they’ll be to support you.

Talking about self-harm can be very stressful and bring up a lot of emotions. Don’t be discouraged if the situation feels worse for a short time right after sharing your secret. It’s uncomfortable to confront and change long-standing habits. But once you get past these initial challenges, you’ll start to feel better.