Healthy Minds, Healthy Souls: On Self-Injury & How to Cope with Emotions

Self-injury has become a challenging phenomenon in today’s society. Our teens are especially at risk, with research showing rates of self-injury as high as 24% amongst high school students.

Unfortunately, the internet has in many ways added to the sensationalization of this epidemic and has introduced the idea to our kids as something to have in their toolbox for coping with life’s ups and downs.

Self-injury, like many other vices, is just a way to press the “relief valve” on intense emotions we have bottled up and don’t know how to manage more effectively. When an emotion hits us strong, it is hard to sit with it long enough in order to understand it and grow from it, and the temptation is to just get rid of it. What most people don’t know is that if we can simply delay the urge to act on a strong emotion, it will fall naturally on its own, just like a wave. No emotion ever lasted forever!

There are a number of things we can do to help ease the fall. Distraction methods are helpful during this time, so start a project! Get outside and run some errands or call a friend. Then, really try to improve the moment in a way that engages all 5 senses. i.e., taking a bubble bath with soothing smells, while listening to relaxing music and reading a great book. Even getting outside and going for a run or a walk can pass the time needed to delay the urge.

It is only then, after the intensity has passed, that we can see life clearly and identify what was actually wrong, what we thought about it, and what we might have needed. Remember, God is always with you, and has equipped your body, mind and soul to function best when you take care of yourself during the rise and falls of a full life.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

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