Self-injurious behaviors (SIBs) are any intentional actions that result in self-inflicted physical harm. This condition is often associated with mental health conditions like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), or depression. SIBs are not suicidal attempts, but they can cause long-term harm. It is essential to seek treatment for SIBs, as they can lead to harmful health complications. Understanding the causes of SIBs and implementing strategies to prevent them can help you or a loved one reach a place of lasting recovery.
What Causes Self-Injurious Behaviors?
SIBs are often linked to mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. Other times, SIBs may be the result of unresolved trauma, a difficult situation, or an overwhelming emotion. People who experience SIBs often turn to self-harm as a means of coping with intense emotions and psychological distress. It can be used as a way to express or release emotions, as well as to distract from painful thoughts and feelings.
5 Tips for Preventing Self-Harm
1. Seek Professional Help
The first step towards self-injury prevention is seeking professional help. A mental health professional can help diagnose and manage underlying mental health conditions that contribute to SIBs. They can also recommend effective therapy and medication that can help reduce SIBs.
2. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is essential in preventing self-injury. Engage in activities that strengthen the body, mind, and soul. These might include:
- Exercise – Find a form of movement that you enjoy and practice it on a regular basis.
- Mindful meditation – Practice mindful meditation regularly to help you stay focused and reduce stress.
- Healthy diet – Eating a balanced diet can give your body the nourishment it needs to function properly.
- Restorative sleep – Get adequate sleep each night, which is essential for physical and mental health.
A mental health professional can help you develop self-care routines that work best for you.
3. Identify Triggers
Knowing and identifying your triggers can help prevent self-harm. Working with a therapist is a great way to document your emotions, stressors, and thoughts that stimulate self-harm. Once you have identified your triggers, devise a plan to avoid or manage them.
Common triggers can include:
- Stressful events
- Unresolved conflicts
- Negative self-talk
- Low self-esteem or self-worth issues
4. Create a Support System
Having supportive friends, family, or a qualified mental health professional can be vital in SIB prevention. They can provide healthy coping mechanisms, support, and accountability throughout the treatment process. A therapist, for example, understands the complexities of self-injurious behaviors and can be an invaluable resource.
5. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness exercises, including deep breathing and meditation, can help prevent self-injurious behaviors. Mindfulness helps reduce emotions and thoughts that stimulate self-harm.
Try the following exercises when feeling overwhelmed:
- Focus on your breathing for a few minutes
- Write down five things that you see, four sounds that you hear, and three feelings that you feel in the present moment
- Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply
- Name one thing in the present moment that brings you joy or peace
Work with a mental health professional to try out different mindfulness exercises with their support.
How Self-Harm Treatment Can Help
Effective self-harm treatment often involves a multifaceted approach. The first step is often seeking professional help from a mental health professional. The primary goal of self-harm treatment is to identify and manage underlying mental health conditions that contribute to self-harm. Through psychotherapy, medication management, and coping skills training, individuals can learn healthy techniques to manage triggers and reduce the recurrence of SIBs.
Reach Out to Columbia Associates Today
If you or a loved one struggles with self-injurious behaviors, seeking professional help can be vital. At Columbia Associates, we understand the complexities of self-injury and offer specialized mental health services to help individuals experiencing self-harm. Our team of qualified and licensed mental health professionals provides comprehensive assessments, personalized treatment, and aftercare support. Contact us today by calling 703.682.8208 or reach out online to schedule an appointment and start your journey toward healing.