Ways to Prevent a Bipolar Person From Self-Harming

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People with mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder experience episodes of highs and lows, causing them to feel extremes of emotions such as sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, or confusion.

Many often resort to self-harming behaviors for relief and comfort when these emotions become overwhelming.

To support bipolar disorder, It is thus essential to learn ways to prevent a bipolar person from self-harming.

For one, encourage journaling.

Journaling is a healthy self-coping habit that can help people with bipolar disorder process and understand their feelings without needing to engage in self-harming behaviors.

Also, to provide support for bipolar disorder, teach your loved one healthy coping habits.

The urge to self-harm often stems from being overwhelmed with persistent episodes and bipolar symptoms.

Healthy coping habits such as joining a support group, limiting stress, maintaining a good routine, etc., will help your loved one cope with their conditions and regain control of other aspects of their life.

In addition, you can connect your loved one to a professional who will better address your loved one's bipolar symptoms and self-harming urges.

Read on to learn five ways to prevent a bipolar person from self-harming:

Bipolar Disorder Therapists in Colorado

Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Mackenzie Batson, LPCC

Mackenzie Batson, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Leigh Harlan, LPC

Leigh Harlan, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Lauren Wilkerson, SWC

Lauren Wilkerson, SWC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC, NCC, EMDR-Trained

Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC, NCC, EMDR-Trained

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Noah Suess, MA, LPC

Noah Suess, MA, LPC

Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Joseph Anders, LPCC

Joseph Anders, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Megan Brausam, LPC

Megan Brausam, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Bonna Machlan, Ph.D., LPC, CAS

Bonna Machlan, Ph.D., LPC, CAS

Colorado
(719) 452-4374

Encourage Journaling

One way to prevent a bipolar person from self-harming is to encourage journaling.

Quite often, people with bipolar disorder experience drastic shifts in moods and energy levels, which can be challenging to manage and cope with.

Writing down the thoughts and feelings that come with these emotional highs and lows can help in processing and understanding them better.

For others, writing down the opposite of what they feel can be more helpful.

That is, when overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, you write about things that make you happy and grateful.

Keeping a gratitude journal can help a bipolar person detach from feelings of intense sadness and provide relief during moments of distress.

Likewise, a journal is a perfect place to express one's deepest feelings and innermost thoughts that cannot be shared with people.

Your loved one could express themself with a poem, a drawing, writing down emotive words, or even scribbling.

Their chosen method doesn't have to make sense to anybody else but them.

Moreso, when the urge to engage in self-harming behaviors becomes intense and unbearable, journaling the self-harm activity rather than acting on it helps.

So rather than harboring self-harming thoughts, they can let them out on paper. If it helps, they could rip or burn the paper after writing down their struggles.

Be Out and Active

Sometimes, staying in a cramped space while feeling intense emotions can fuel negative thoughts and self-harming behavior.

On the contrary, enjoying nature's serenity and engaging in physical activity provides a calming effect that can help prevent a bipolar person from self-harming.

Simple outings such as visiting an ice cream shop, a nearby park, or walking around the neighborhood can help restore calmness and peace for your bipolar loved one.

If they are physically unable to go outside, sitting beside an open window or on the porch and inhaling fresh air may have the same calming effect.

Similarly, sports, exercises, or any form of physical activity can provide a distraction from the pressure of overwhelming self-harming thoughts.

If working out at a gym seems too strenuous for your bipolar loved one, they can instead try low-impact home exercises like a simple dance, basic stretches, short jog, yoga, or dog walking.

In addition, simply being around loved ones can provide the comfort and support needed to overcome the urge to self-harm.

Thus, as a caregiver or friend to a bipolar person, ensure you visit often, treat them to a coffee, or invite them for outings.

Teach Healthy Coping Habits

An effective way to prevent a bipolar person from self-harming is to teach them healthy coping habits.

When it comes to coping with bipolar disorder and self-harming behavior, it is of utmost importance to develop healthy coping strategies for use in everyday life.

One such strategy is limiting stressors.

Increased stress levels can prompt negative thinking, increase anxiety levels and affect the mental state of a bipolar person.

Thus, limiting stress by avoiding uncomfortable situations and heavy workloads/commitments can help your bipolar loved one manage their day-to-day mood changes.

Also, joining a support group is a healthy way to cope with bipolar disorder and self-harm thoughts.

Through support groups, your bipolar loved one can connect with people with similar experiences who can offer great advice, emotional support, and comfort.

In addition, other coping habits, such as maintaining a good sleep routine, avoiding drugs and alcohol, relaxing, exercising, making a well-being plan, etc., can help your bipolar loved one manage bipolar symptoms and self-harm thoughts.

Bipolar Disorder Therapists in Colorado

Bipolar Disorder Therapists in Colorado

Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Mackenzie Batson, LPCC

Mackenzie Batson, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Leigh Harlan, LPC

Leigh Harlan, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Lauren Wilkerson, SWC

Lauren Wilkerson, SWC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC, NCC, EMDR-Trained

Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC, NCC, EMDR-Trained

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Noah Suess, MA, LPC

Noah Suess, MA, LPC

Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Joseph Anders, LPCC

Joseph Anders, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Megan Brausam, LPC

Megan Brausam, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Bonna Machlan, Ph.D., LPC, CAS

Bonna Machlan, Ph.D., LPC, CAS

Colorado
(719) 452-4374

Help Them Understand Why

People self-harm for various reasons.

Self-harming thoughts do not occur only when a person experiences overwhelming emotions and tries to gain relief; sometimes, feeling no emotions or emotional numbness could prompt the urge to self-harm.

Thus, understanding the motivation behind self-harming thoughts or behaviors can help prevent a bipolar person from self-harming.

Likewise, helping your bipolar loved one understand the motivation behind their self-harming thoughts can help them recognize the situations and feelings that trigger them.

This provides a deeper insight into the exact problems and how to solve them.

Also, understanding self-harming impulses and how they relate to bipolar symptoms can help your bipolar loved one find other ways to release their emotions.

For instance, if they feel like self-harming because they feel extremely sad or angry, they can channel their emotions into other non-harmful activities like banging pots, punching a soft object like clay, or tearing up pieces of paper. 

Connect Them With a Professional 

Although the suggestions mentioned above are effective in helping your bipolar loved one cope with self-harm urges, they do not strike out the need for professional care.

Thus, you can help prevent a bipolar person from self-harming by connecting them with a professional.

While self-harm urges are not symptoms of bipolar disorder, they could be a sign of a co-occurring mental health disorder such as borderline personality disorder.

Having a doctor or professional in the medical community intervene in treating your loved one's self-injurious behavior and bipolar disorder will help you manage both conditions effectively and look out for other co-occurring disorders.

The doctor may prescribe medications to help control aggressive impulses, anxiety levels, and other bipolar-related symptoms or recommend psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, or mindfulness-based therapies to target self-harm behaviors.

Similarly, a mental health professional with experience treating bipolar disorder and self-injury will help evaluate both conditions and provide the best treatment options for your bipolar loved one. 

Conclusion

Coping with emotional instability and other bipolar symptoms is difficult at the best of times.

For some, efforts to cope with overwhelming bipolar episodes may take the form of acts of self-harm.

Self-harm, however, is dangerous and destructive as it not only worsens bipolar episodes but also physically damages your body.

Thus, to provide support for bipolar disorder, learn helpful ways to prevent a bipolar person from self-harm. They include journaling, engaging in physical activity, teaching healthy coping habits, helping them understand why and connecting them with a professional. 

Resources 

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July 22nd, 2024

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