How to Shake Yourself Out of a Negative Spiral
I considered not writing this post. I don’t want to trigger anyone, but the truth is that if there is someone out there searching the phrase “alternatives to suicide,” then there’s really no reason not to write about it. In the end, I’m trying to help and if you’ve arrived here from Google or anywhere else, there’s a reason for that.
First things first. If you are having active suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273 (8255). There are trained counselors waiting to speak to you and help you through this. Please just do it now.
That said, suicidal thoughts that are part of serious mental illness require treatment, usually with medication and therapy. If you have not been diagnosed with an illness and are not under the care of a mental health professional, that should be your next step.
If you’re not sure where to go next and are having thoughts of suicide, your emergency department is as good a place as any. If that feels too hard, please contact a friend or family member to let them know how you are feeling.
All that aside… you came here looking for alternatives to suicide, and that is what I will provide. My aim with these suggestions is to help you to realize that the option you are considering is an act of desperation. And, desperate people should be willing to try anything. Please try anything else. I’ve give some alternatives to suicide below.
Do Something Future-Oriented
Do something that gives you something to look forward to in the future. I know it may be hard to even think of enjoying anything, so try to think small here. Don’t book a trip to Hawaii—that will just make you feel bad that it doesn’t excite you. Instead, choose something small that makes you look forward to something in the future. Below are some ideas:
- Plant a garden
- Buy a houseplant
- Buy a journal
- Buy yourself a favorite tea or coffee to have each morning
- Do five minutes of a hobby you used to enjoy
- Write out a bucket list (wildest dreams)
Do Something Kind
It may be that the last thing you are thinking about right now is how to be kind to other people. That’s fine! You don’t have to feel like it, you just have to do it. And it doesn’t have to be for humans either, it could be for a furry friend. It doesn’t even have to involve leaving the house. Here are some suggestions:
- Visit a pet at an animal shelter
- Send a postcard to someone who seems lonely
- Donate $5 online to a GoFundme page
- Put money in someone’s parking meter
- Send an email to someone you’ve lost touch with
- Bring a neighbor some baked goods
Find a New Path
What do I mean by find a new path? If the path you’ve been on is not keeping you safe, find a new one. That will mean different things to different people. I’m not a religious person, but I understand the benefit of believing in something for your mental health. That could mean joining a church or joining a meditation group; I’ll leave that for you to figure out. Here are some starting points:
- Join a church
- Start practicing meditation
- Forgive someone who has hurt you
- Do a 180 in your life (what would that mean for you?)
- Look for a new job
- Start planning to make a major change in some area of your life
Start a New Daily, Monthly, or Annual Ritual
Starting today, make this the anniversary of a new ritual that you will start. Again, the specifics of the ritiual will depend on you. I know someone who chose to become vegan on Valentine’s Day one year, to give herself something else to celebrate that day. Choose something that is meaningful to you and that will give you purpose. Here are some ideas:
- Practice daily meditation
- Have a cup of tea each morning
- Sign up for a subscription box from Cratejoy so you have something in the mail each month
- Plan to start one new healthy habit as each month passes
- Choose to become vegetarian or vegan
- Vow to be a sustainable consumer and help save the earth
Sign Up for Something New
Sometimes a new challenge can help to shake you out of the mental box you are inside. This can be as small or as big as you want. The thing about signing up is that it gives you some accountability. The best ideas will connect you to other people. Here are some idea:
- Start a blog
- Take an improv class
- Plan to go back to school
- Try out a grocery delivery service
- Join a book club (in person or online)
- Sign up for a race
Do Something Out of the Box for You
Again, this will depend on what your life is already like. If you’re already a bada$$, some of these ideas might seem tame. Find what works for you—what would make you feel like you were geting completely out of your comfort zone? Go do that. Here’s some thoughts:
- Get a tattoo
- Ride a motorcycle
- Visit the ocean
- Try a new food or drink
- Speak your mind
- Write a novel
Do Something That Shakes You Up
What would shake you to your core? The idea here is to so completely distract you from your negative thoughts that you can’t help but think about something else. This one needs to be pretty grandiose and life-changing. What can you think of that fits the bill? (Hint: facing your fears will count). Here’s what I would do:
- Move to a new city
- Break up with your partner
- Cut someone off who keeps hurting you
- Leave your job
- Take a day off work
No, don’t run away from your problems. Physically change where you are. Get out of your house. Go somewhere new. Here are some ideas.
- Go for a walk in the woods
- Take the train into the city
- Go to the mall for the day
- Go to the ocean
- Go to Florida
- Go to the airport
And if all this sounds too crazy and out there, do something just to stabilize yourself. Do what makes you feel the best and do lots of it. Here’s some ideas:
- Watch a television series
- Read a novel
- Eat comfort foods
- Do guided meditation
- Go to bed
- Drink a bottle of water
- Take a bath
If you’ve read this far, I hope you have a least a few ideas of things that you can do and alternatives to suicide. Once again, if you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273 (8255). If you are outside the U.S., you can find a list of international suicide hotlines here.
I also use and recommend the online therapy service Betterhelp. Through this service you can chat with a therapist online from the comfort of your home for an affordable price.
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54 Alternatives to Suicide
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