The idea of distraction is what it says on the tin - aiming to move your focus to something different for long enough that your thoughts or urges to self-harm are not as strong, or have gone away.

The type of distraction that’s help will depend on both what you’re interested in, as well as what you need in that moment. There's no point picking something you hate doing just because someone else has recommended it.

You might feel able to make the choice to immerse yourself in an activity you enjoy, but you might need to specifically pick something which requires close concentration or focuses on reconnecting with your senses.


Displacement focuses more on trying to recreate or replace what you need from self-harm, especially on a sensory level.

Thinking about your experience of self-harm and the feelings and sensations you associate with it can help you to consider what kind of displacement activities you might find helpful.

You might want to recreate a feeling of release or control, or you might want to focus on physical sensations or responses.

The list of potential distractions and displacement activities is huge and what works for each person will be different – probably at different times, but thinking in advance and creating a list of things to try as distraction or displacement activities can help you to be prepared if you are struggling with self-harm urges and want to focus on distraction or displacement as a way to manage.