Right now are all facing the ongoing challenge of isolation. It is a difficult and intense time all round. Feeling isolated can trigger all sorts of negative thoughts and emotions.
Some people currently feel that they lack purpose and are struggling to adapt to the changes in their life. Others are facing challenges when it comes to their identity. For some people fear about the current situation is taking over. For others anxiety is the overriding emotion at the moment. A lot of people feel very unsettled and unsafe in the world and worry about what’s ahead. For some this time of isolation can lead to depression and for others it can lead to ongoing difficulties with mental health.
In addition to this relationships are under strain. Families are under pressure and there are also financial concerns for a lot of people. As well as the ongoing concerns, fears and worries about health. Individual’s own health as well as the health and well being of those around them,
All of this could send people into a spiral of negativity. It is at times like this that self-destructive behaviours can start to creep in. And it is these behaviours that are actually a way of people harming themselves.
Many people think of things like cutting when they hear the words self-harm. However people hurt themselves in a variety of ways. Here are just some of the destructive ways that people hurt themselves –
• Physical harm – hitting, scratching, pinching etc
• Alcohol and/or drugs/nicotine
• Exercising to excess
• Eating disorders
• Destructive relationships
• Acting out sexually
• Working to excess
• Pushing themselves to the point of burn out
Do you recognise any of these behaviours in yourself? Perhaps you drink to numb your pain? Maybe you have started smoking again ? Or you can’t stop exercising because if you do, you will have to face up to your feelings. If any of the above applies then you are hurting yourself in an extreme way. Of course you deserve far more than that. But right now you just can’t see it. And because there is so much pressure currently – it almost becomes easier to turn to something destructive. To look for a little bit of a release. The problem is that release is only temporary.
To the rest of the world it doesn’t make logical sense. Why would a person hurt themselves? Why would they push their body to the limit? Why would people harm their body in such a destructive way? Behaviour like this isn’t logical. It isn’t straight forward. And the person doing it to themselves doesn’t want to live in this hell. That’s for sure. Deep down they know they are making a challenging situation far worse.
Self-harm is a release. It’s a way of suppressing and numbing feelings, and at the same it gives temporary relief. Often emotions such as anger or despair are so powerful and so over whelming, that an individual cannot deal with them. Sometimes the pain a person is living with hurts so deeply, that they don’t know what to do, or where to turn. So they end up taking things out on themselves. Temporarily it can feel better. But the after effect is even worse than the pain you started with.
At the moment people are having to stay in their homes – their usual routines have been taken away from them. But in addition to this – distractions are removed. For people that haven’t dealt with some things or faced up to their feelings about certain areas of their life – they will now be face with a lot of things to deal with. And it can feel magnified – arriving all at once.
It soon becomes habitual for people soothe themselves with drink, or numb yourself by not eating. Before people realise it they are in a cycle of destruction. The big question is how to get out of it.
Here are some suggestions as to how you can help yourself –
• Slow down. As difficult as it is, take some time out.
• Make sure you get out for a walk every day and get some fresh air
• Take time in your week to exercise
• Write your feelings down in a journal.
• Practice good self-care – eating, drinking, sleeping etc
• With food and drink work towards the goal of moderation
• Try to ensure that you are aiming for balance in your life
• Talk to your friends and family – try not to totally isolate
• Remember you are not alone
• Seek counselling if you can – therapy can make a massive difference. This is all available on line now.
• Speak to your doctor if you feel you need medication
• Try and find different coping strategies
• Introduce some calmer behaviours in – such as yoga, reading, meditation etc
• Make yourself a priority
• Treat yourself as you would your best friend
• Be kind to yourself
• Remember what you are worth
• Try to keep it in the day
• Take things one step at a time
• Focus on your breathing
• Remember this will eventually pass
• Look for different activities to invest your time in
• Think about positive goals for the future