A safety plan for self-harm urges is a critical tool for teens who are struggling with self-injury. Here's a step-by-step guide to creating a safety plan:
- Identify Triggers: List specific situations, thoughts, emotions, or events that trigger your self-harm urges. Understanding your triggers is the first step in managing them.
- Warning Signs: Recognize the early warning signs that indicate you might be at risk of self-harming. This could include changes in mood, physical sensations, or behavior.
- Coping Strategies: Develop a list of healthy coping strategies that you can use when you experience self-harm urges. These should be alternatives to self-injury and can include activities like deep breathing, art, exercise, or calling a friend.
- Social Support: Identify trusted friends, family members, or adults you can reach out to when you're struggling with self-harm urges. Have their contact information readily available.
- Professional Contacts: List the names and contact information of mental health professionals you can contact in a crisis, such as a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist.
- Distraction Techniques: Include a list of distraction techniques that you can use to redirect your focus away from self-harm urges. These can be activities like coloring, playing a musical instrument, or engaging in a puzzle.
- Self-Soothing Techniques: Identify self-soothing activities that help you feel calm and grounded. This might include taking a warm bath, practicing mindfulness, or using sensory objects like stress balls.
- Safe Environment: Ensure your immediate environment is safe by removing or securing any objects or tools that you might use for self-harm.
- Emergency Contacts: List emergency contacts, including crisis hotlines (e.g., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988) and local crisis services.
- When to Seek Help: Clearly outline when it's time to seek immediate help, such as if you've already self-harmed, if your urges are overwhelming, or if you're having thoughts of suicide.
- Commitment to Self-Care: Write down your commitment to self-care, which can include daily routines, activities that make you feel good, and taking prescribed medications if applicable.
- Review and Update: Regularly review and update your safety plan with your therapist or counselor. It should evolve as you learn more about your triggers and coping strategies.
- Share Your Plan: Share your safety plan with a trusted person in your life, such as a parent, guardian, or close friend, so they can support you and help you implement it when needed.
Remember that a safety plan is not a replacement for professional help. If you are struggling with self-harm urges, it's essential to reach out to a mental health professional who can work with you to address the underlying issues and provide ongoing support. Your safety plan is a tool to help you manage those urges while you work towards recovery.
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