I don’t advocate suicide, dear readers, as a stress management tool.

If you want to manage your anxiety in a so-called “maladaptive” way (and why wouldn’t you?), you should consider picking. This involves the pulling of skin to cause pain and injury to relieve stress and give an external source of distraction to the things causing you anxiety. An added benefit is that you feel as though you are in complete control, where you may not feel that way in other area of your life.

Here’s how to pick.
• Choose carefully. A good way to begin picking to go after your cuticles. Many people have cuticle issues so it’ll be less obvious that you are nourishing your wayward cuticles with the covert intent to pull them until they go deep enough to make you bleed. Fingers are a good place anyway simply because there are lots of nerve endings in there—you’ll feel the effects more acutely.
• To prepare chapped lips for picking, you will need to stretch the skin tight a few times, hopefully causing a natural crack to form. At this point, you can go straight for the picking, in the same manner you would on cuticles or you could prolong the suffering by chewing on the lip tissue until such time as you feel ready for pain and blood.
• Take hold of any piece of dry skin and rip it. I find that I have dry spots on my nose and cheeks that sometimes work. Now, there is the issue of people noticing the red pockets where your flesh used to be but this is minor and does not require medical attention, so I believe it’s acceptable (although perhaps not the ideal picking method because of the publicity).

A word on variations. Picking may not be for you. There are many other methods for you to induce injury that is not life-threatening but causes just enough pain to be life-affirming. Cutting is a cliché but I won’t judge you too harshly…although there’s a much greater chance of actually hurting yourself and having to have medical attention. The point of self-injurious behavior is that only you and perhaps a few of your closest companions know you’re doing it. Part of the anxiety management is that you are in control and if you lose control, you’ve missed the boat. I’ve dug my nails into my skin before, avoiding breaking the skin and it was moderately effective. Sometimes punching yourself or a hard surface can be helpful, so long as you are careful not to cause injury requiring medical attention. (A note on suicide: don’t do it.) In addition, eating ridiculous amounts of calories is another strategy since you know it’s bad for you but you do it anyway as an “emotional eater.” You’re a cutter in a manner of speaking.

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