Coping Techniques



  • Light candles and watch the flame.
  • Look at nature around you.
  • Go out in the middle of the night and watch the stars.
  • Be mindful of each sight that passes in front of you, not lingering on anything.


  • Listen to beautiful or soothing music, or to invigorating and exciting music.
  • Relaxation tapes.
  • Be mindful of any sounds that come your way, letting them go in one ear and out the other.
  • Sing.
  • Play an instrument.
  • Call a crisis line.


  • Use your favorite perfume or lotions.
  • Light a scented candle.
  • Bake cookies, cake, or bread.
  • Breathe in the fresh smells of nature.


  • Have a favorite soothing drink such as herbal tea or hot chocolate (no alcohol).
  • Treat yourself to a dessert.
  • Sample flavors in an ice cream store.
  • Mindfully taste the food you eat.
  • Eat healthy.


  • Squeeze ice.
  • Snap your wrist with a rubber band.
  • Pet your dog or cat.
  • Experience whatever you are touching; notice touch that is soothing.
  • Massage your body with massage oils or creams, reminding yourself that you are special and you deserve to treat yourself and your body with love and respect.
  • Take a bath or shower. “Immersing yourself in either warm or cold water will change your body’s temperature, thus changing your physical sensations.”


Feeling Angry, Frustrated, Restless:

  • Hit a punching bag.
  • Hit a pillow.
  • Rip up an old newspaper or phone book.
  • Learn to confront others/making your own feelings known instead of keeping them inside.
  • Throw ice into the bathtub or against a brick wall hard enough to shatter it.
  • Clean your room (or your whole house).

Feeling Sad, Soft, Melancholy:

  • Do something slow and soothing, like taking a hot bath with bath oil or bubbles, curling up under a comforter with hot cocoa and a good book, babying yourself somehow.
  • Listen to soothing music.
  • Smooth body lotion into the parts or yourself you want to hurt.
  • Call a friend and talk about things that you like.
  • Visit a friend.
  • Let yourself cry.

Feeling Stressed or Anxious:

  • Physical activity helps you to relax and also releases endorphins.
  • Express yourself: talk about it, write about it, shout or moan about it.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Take time to rest, relax and do things that give you pleasure.
  • Doing something at which you excel to boost self-esteem.
  • Organize your daily activities to prevent rushing and confusion.
  • Deep breathing meditation.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Avoid extreme reactions.
  • Try to “use” stress. If you can’t fight what’s bothering you, flow with it and try to use it in a productive way.
  • Try to treat yourself more like a friend and less like a mortal enemy.
  • Avoid self-medication.
  • Ask for help from friends, family or professionals

 Simulated Self-Injury

Wanting To See Blood:

  • Draw on yourself with a red felt-tip pen.
  • Paint yourself with red tempera paint.
  • Painting nails (especially red).

Wanting To See Scars Or Pick Scabs:

  • Get a henna tattoo kit. You put the henna on as a paste and leave it overnight; the next day you can pick it off as you would a scab and it leaves an orange-red mark behind.
  • Put glue on skin to peel off.



  • Find a quiet place. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Sit or lie down.
  • Close your eyes. Take slow, deep breaths.
  • Concentrate on a single word, object, or calming thought.
  • Don’t worry if other thoughts or images enter your mind while you’re doing this. Just relax and return to what you were focusing on.
  • Continue until you feel relaxed and refreshed.

Deep-Breathing Exercise:

  • Sit comfortably or lie on your back.
  • Breathe in slowly and deeply for a count of 5.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 5.
  • Breathe out slowly for a count of 5, pushing all the air out.
  • Repeat several times until you feel calm and relaxed.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation:

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down.
  • Tense the muscles in your face for 5-10 seconds. Then relax them for about 20 seconds.
  • Tense the muscles in your back of your neck for 5-10 seconds. Then relax them for about 20 seconds. Notice the difference in how your muscles feel when relaxed.
  • Move down to your shoulders. Tense and relax the muscles the same way as you did in step 3.
  • Repeat the same steps with the other muscle groups in your body: in your hands, arms, chest, stomach, lower back, buttock, thighs, calves, and feet — one at a time.


  • Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down.
  • Imagine a pleasant, peaceful scene, such as a lush forest. a sandy beach, a place you love, or a fantasy place.  Picture yourself in this setting.
  • Focus on the scene. List distinctive features (sights, smells, sounds, tastes, touch, objects, etc.) by mentally walking around your scene.
  • Continue until you feel refreshed and relaxed.
  • Practice going through your mental walk mentally or even by writing it down. The best time to practice this technique is at night right before you go to bed to help imprint the place in you mind and depend on it in situations of stress.

Mindful Meditation:

  • Simply sit straight in a chair or lie down. Close your eyes, and pay attention to your breathing. Don’t try to force your breath to go faster or slower. Make sure that when you breathe in, your belly is rising (not your chest). When thoughts or distractions arise, even if it happens a hundred times: acknowledge it, but then let it slip away.

“54321” exercise:

  • Name 5 things you can see in the room with you.
  • Name 4 things you can feel (“chair on my back” or “feet on floor”).
  • Name 3 things you can hear right now (“fingers tapping on keyboard” or “TV”).
  • Name 2 things you can smell right now (or, 2 things you like the smell of).
  • Name 1 good thing about yourself.

Fifteen Minute Game:

  • Tell yourself that if you still want to harm yourself in 15 minutes, you can. When the time is up, see if you can go another 15.

Analyze an Object:

  • Choose an object in the room. Examine it carefully and then write as detailed a description of it as you can. Include everything: size, weight, texture, shape, color, possible uses, feel, etc.



  • Make a list of reasons why you are going to stop cutting. Every time you get the urge, read the list to remind yourself why you shouldn’t.
  • Make a phone list of people you can call for support. Allow yourself to use it.
  • 10 healthy things you like to do.
  • Make a list of pro’s and con’s.
  • Make a list of why you’re important.
  • Make a list of goals and steps to achieve such goals.
  • Make a list of your dreams.
  • Make a bucket list.


  • Make a no-harm contract with your therapist.
  • Make a contract with someone you care about and who cares about you.

Expressive Writing:

  • Journal
  • Write stories
  • Write a blog
  • Write on forums
  • Write poetry
  • Write a letter to a friend

 Arts and Crafts

  • Draw
  • Paint
  • Sculpt
  • Metal Embossing
  • Scrapbook
  • Knit
  • Crochet
  • Quilt
  • Collage
  • Arrange flowers
  • Design a website
  • Graphic Design
  • Photography


  • Walk
  • Run
  • Lift Weights
  • Aerobics
  • Swim
  • Treadmill/Elliptical
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Dance
  • Surf
  • Rollerblade
  • Ice-skate
  • Sports (Tennis, golf, football, soccer, basketball, etc.)
  • Garden