Self-injury has become a new phenomenon that has really challenged today’s society as we know it. 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 sensationalizing 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.
So, what is it really, why do kids’ engage in this? Well, it’s truly 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 hard, it is so easy to choose an unhealthy way of coping, and self-injury is really no different.
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. Distraction methods are helpful while waiting on the fall, 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.
John 16:33 “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.”
During this time, let us remember to lean into God during heightened times of stress, to remain at our best and change the narrative we are telling ourselves. When I am upset, I like to ask myself if what I am upset about in this moment is really going to matter 5 years from now? And is there anything I can really do about it?