Can Self-Harm Make You Tired?

June 30, 2022 Kim Berkley

Regardless of the methods involved, self-harm can make you tired in ways you might never have expected.

Why Self-Harm Can Make You Tired

Self-harm involves more than the act of harm itself. For many, it involves lying—sometimes on a daily basis—to coworkers, school peers, authoritative figures, and even loved ones. Keeping up appearances when, inwardly, you feel like you're falling apart is nothing less than exhausting—and it only gets harder as time goes on.

Heat can also make us drowsy—if you're wearing extra layers to cover up your scars even in warm weather, this could be a contributing factor.

In some cases, self-harm urges are tangled up with other mental health issues like depression or anxiety. These, too, can be draining—particularly if you're attempting to cope with them without sufficient support.

If your injuries are extensive or extreme, there may also be physical causes for drowsiness or lethargy—for example, if you've lost a lot of blood. (If this is you or you experience sudden drowsiness, dizziness, or feel like you're going to pass out, call your doctor right away.)

In short—there are many possibilities as to why self-harm can make you feel tired. But what can you do about it?

What to Do If Self-Harm Makes You Tired

The obvious answer, of course, is to stop. But just like Rome wasn't built in a day, recovery won't happen overnight, and in the meantime, your exhaustion might be holding you back from taking action and beginning the healing process.

The answer also isn't to reach for caffeine, tempting though it may be. Instead, try the following.

  • Find an outlet for your emotions. It can be exhausting to hold it together, day in and day out, while you're falling to pieces in silence. Try to talk to someone if you can, but if you're not ready yet, give your worst thoughts and feelings a way out. Think of it like drawing poison from a snake bite—it'll still hurt, but you'll be opening the door to healing more fully and effectively in the days to come. Try art therapy, journaling, music—whatever calls to you.
  • Set up a healthy bedtime routine. Rest is essential to recovery, whether we're talking mentally or physically. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and try to precede bedtime with a relaxing activity—reading or listening to chill music, for example. Avoid screens and avoid eating right before you fall asleep. For me, something that helps is lighting a candle with the same scent every night before bed. 
  • Eat healthfully and regularly. I used to be that person who could eat anything and not gain weight. It hasn't done me any favors in my adulthood. Do yourself a favor—eat some veggies now and then, be sure to get enough protein, and don't skip meals. It helps you maintain a level amount of energy throughout the day. (Beyond this, consult a doctor—every body is different, and not being a doctor myself, I can't tell you what specific diet requirements are right for you.)
  • Take breaks. If you're overwhelmed with responsibilities, try and break things down into smaller, more manageable steps. If there's anything you don't have to do, consider whether you can drop it from your to-do list entirely or at least put it off for now. Take breaks, even small ones, whenever you can. Consider whether implementing a daily mindfulness routine, such as a simple guided meditation or short yoga session, might help you keep your stress levels down.

And of course, yes—if self-harm makes you tired, the best thing you can do is begin working toward recovery, one step at a time. Reach out for help as soon as you're ready; while it's not impossible to heal on your own, it's easier with support.

APA Reference
Kim Berkley (2022, June 30). Can Self-Harm Make You Tired?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Author: Kim Berkley

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