Self-Harm Prompts for Recovery Journaling

November 25, 2021 Kim Berkley

Journaling can be a powerful way to work through the difficult feelings and experiences of self-harm and recovery. When you're at a loss for what to write about, these self-harm prompts can help.

Self-Harm Prompts for Reducing Stress and Overwhelm

These self-harm prompts are ideal for when you feel overwhelmed by something affecting you in the present. They are designed to help you identify what you are feeling, accept what you cannot change, and find ways to change what you can—including your perspective.

  1. What physical sensations am I currently experiencing? (E.g., "My neck feels tense and sore," or "I have butterflies in my stomach.")
  2. What thoughts are currently running through my head? (Try free writing—scribbling down whatever comes to mind for a set amount of time, without worrying about whether it makes sense.)
  3. What names can I give to the emotions I am currently feeling? (Consider whether you are feeling multiple things at once.)
  4. What are some things I enjoy that I can do to feel less overwhelmed? (Try to think of as many options as possible, then circle two or three that seem most appealing.)
  5. If I were to talk to someone about how I'm feeling without worrying about their reaction, what would I say?
  6. If someone I loved were to tell me they were feeling the way I am now, what would I tell them?

Self-Harm Prompts for Recovery Motivation

These self-harm prompts are focused more on the self-harm recovery process—finding inspiration for healing and maintaining motivation over the long term.

  1. Why do I want to be self-harm-free? (Go into as much detail as possible; feel free to list more than one reason if you can.)
  2. How will being self-harm-free change my life for the better?
  3. What is one small thing I can start (or continue) doing today that will help me avoid hurting myself?
  4. What milestones can I set to help mark my progress? How can I reward myself for reaching those milestones? (E.g., "When I reach 30 days clean, I will treat myself to a fancy new journal.")
  5. What does my support network look like? Are there any other groups or individuals I can reach out to in order to strengthen my support network?
  6. What coping strategies do I find the most helpful for dealing with cravings? Which ones might I need to change out for something more effective?
  7. What small, easy self-care practices can I incorporate (or continue to practice) that will help me maintain my mental and physical health?

Self-Harm Prompts for Coping with Relapse

These self-harm prompts can be used to work through the difficult experiences and emotions associated with relapsing during the recovery process.

  1. What events, thoughts, or feelings may have played a part in triggering my relapse?
  2. Are these potential triggers things I can avoid or change in the future? If not, can I change how I perceive or react to these triggers?
  3. How did I feel when I first relapsed? How do I feel about it now?
  4. If someone I love was going through this, what would I say to them?
  5. Do I have a relapse plan in place that I can follow? (If not, now may be a good time to write down some steps you can follow now and, if necessary, in the future as well.)
  6. Rewrite your relapse incident, imagining what alternatives to self-harm you could use to cope with your triggers.
  7. Write a letter to yourself expressing forgiveness, kindness, and understanding.

I hope you find these prompts helpful. If you have other self-harm journal prompts you'd like to suggest, please add them in the comments—the more, the merrier.

APA Reference
Kim Berkley (2021, November 25). Self-Harm Prompts for Recovery Journaling, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Kim Berkley

Find Kim on Instagram, Facebook and her blog.

Lizanne Corbit
November, 30 2021 at 4:05 pm

Journaling can be such a powerful exercise for so many things. These prompts are beautifully written and poised to provide so much healing, insight, and release. I particularly love "What names can I give to the emotions I am currently feeling?" - sometimes naming our emotions can be a simple but impactful way of seeing that we are not them, we separate ourselves and see that it is just something we are experiencing, not defined by.

December, 6 2021 at 8:28 pm

Hi again, Lizanne :)
Thank you so much! I've found journaling to be one of the most useful recovery tools in my arsenal--and not just for coping with self-harm. It's funny how the simple things can sometimes prove to be the most powerful. I'm glad you found these prompts helpful, too!

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