When I am struggling with self-harm thoughts or extremely anxious, I need something to completely channel all of my attention into one place. For years, I have attempted to find different methods of doing this. However, distracting myself only helped temporarily. After awhile, the urges would return and I would give into them wearily.
Finally, I discovered a way to concentrate on a task until the unsafe feelings had passed. This was doing mind puzzles or games. The brain power it took to solve these forced my mind to push all other thoughts aside. Although this coping skill did not work perfectly every time (no coping skill does), decoding puzzles has been a great help to me.
There are a few things that you will need to do this coping skill. First of all, you will need a puzzle. Multiple books of mind games can be found at Barnes and Noble, other books stores, and other large places that solve books (grocery stores, Target, etc.). Or you can download some from the internet. If you google “mind puzzles” or a certain type of game, you will find hundreds of free ones that simply need to be printed off. To skip this process of searching while I am distraught, I keep several books and sheets of different types of puzzles nearby at home or in my purse. Secondly, you will usually need something to write and erase with so grab a few pencils or pens. Then you simply need to find a comfy place and start to work.
Some examples of these games are Sudoku, crossword puzzles, cryptograms, mazes, connect-the-dots, logic puzzles, or solitaire. Instead of limiting yourself to one kind, I suggest that you try out each of them and see what works for you. For example, I love Sudoku but it took me a long time before I realized that. Mazes, on the other hand, bore me. Even as a little kid, I struggled to do them without going outside of the lines and getting bored. So do not box yourself in with one type of game or give up if one does not fit your fancy. Experiment and enjoy yourself as you care for yourself.
Now when I am struggling a great deal with my thoughts, doing Sudoku greatly calms me down. Focusing all of my attention on getting numbers in the right boxes helped distract me from the racing thoughts in my head. Although logic puzzles may not be your number one coping skill list, I suggest that you give these mind games a try. You might be surprised at how much thinking about something else can help you to forget the negative urges or thoughts.
- Daily Crossword at USA Today
- Boatload Puzzles Website
- Crossword Puzzles at UK Crossword Website
- Web Sudoku Website
- Sudoku Kingdom Website
- Krazy Dad Mazes Website
- Logic Mazes Website
- Logic Problems on Brain Bashers
- PS’s Puzzles Blog
- Zebra Puzzle on The Logical Place