journaling in addiction recovery

The Power and Benefits Of Journaling In Addiction Recovery

Journaling is a powerful tool that allows you to express your innermost feelings and thoughts through writing. Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare is here to help with this process. We focus on empowering you or your loved one to believe that success is possible in your addiction recovery. Our staff will strive to help you or your loved one reach and maintain your goal of sobriety.

Writing down your thoughts and emotions can create a sense of freedom and release. Recovery journaling is an important process that can promote healing. This process allows you the freedom to express your joys, sorrows, and frustrations. There is no pressure and no judgment of what you write about.

Journaling – either on paper or digitally – can help you deal with the stress and anxiety that you may feel during addiction recovery. It is a therapeutic way to deal with emotions or events. The events may have happened in your past, or it may be current events or future events that you are concerned about.

The History of Journaling

People have kept diaries and journals for as long as there has been handwriting. Journaling for therapeutic reasons became well known in the 1960s because Dr. Ira Progoff started offering workshops and classes on the “Intensive Journal Method”. As the years went on his journaling methods became very popular.

The popularity of journaling as a form of anxiety and stress relief caused medical groups to take a closer look. Using journaling for therapeutic reasons made a lot of sense. It was found to be useful in group therapy as well as one-on-one therapy.

Today’s journaling is done in many formats. Handwritten journals are still popular, but many digital journals are used as well. Popular digital forms of journaling include blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.

How Can Journaling Benefit Me?

Writing down your thoughts, whether they are happy or sad, is beneficial and can greatly help in your addiction recovery process. Journaling has healing powers. It allows you the ability to read back through your entries to see how you have progressed in your journey. This form of self-realization and expression allows you to self-analyze your progress.

There are many benefits to writing in a journal. Some of the benefits of journaling in recovery include:

  • Stress relief
  • Lessen feelings of anxiety
  • Brings about a feeling of accomplishment
  • Provides a way to focus on goals
  • Promotes inner peace
  • Encourages emotional awareness
  • Allows you to see things from a different perspective

The Different Types of Recovery Journals

Recovery journaling may look different for you than for others. You may choose to have one single journal or have multiple journals where each has a different intention. The nice thing about journaling is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it. You choose what works for you.

The various forms of journals that you may choose from are:

Diary Journal

This form of journaling is used to document daily events. You may decide to include your daily struggles and/or celebrations. You may find that writing down your thoughts about events that happen each day provides comfort and gives you focus.

Reflection Journal 

Your journal entries in a reflection journal may be brief and written at the end of each day. This is the time that you take to write down the decisions you made, and the outcome of those decisions, and how you felt. It is the hope that this form of journaling relaxes you to allow for a peaceful night’s sleep.

Gratitude Journal 

Journaling about the things that you are grateful for each day can bring about good feelings and create a positive outlook. Many gratitude journals prompt you to write down three to five things you are grateful for. This positivity will provide a hopeful feeling, and can cause you to see that a future free of drugs and alcohol is possible.

Spiritual Journal 

This form of journaling allows you to focus on your future and what you would like to become. It provides a way for you to document your spiritual journey through the recovery process. This type of journaling can happen throughout the day.

Health Journal 

This journal allows you to write down how you are physically and mentally feeling throughout the day. It provides an opportunity to look back at past entries and follow how the state of your health progresses.

Goal Journal 

Journal entries focus on short-term as well as long-term goals. This type of journaling provides a place for you to track your progress. You can look back at your entries and see what did and did not work. It is through these journal entries that you can find ways to achieve your goals.

What Are Some Prompts To Motivate You To Journal While In Recovery?

Deciding what to write about may not come easy for you. This may change as you become accustomed to writing down your feelings and emotions. Each day brings different challenges and you may need some help in starting a journal entry.

It is important to know that everyone has their unique style of journaling. Some prefer to write with ink, and some prefer a pencil. Others prefer to type their feelings out on a keyboard, or even on their phone. There is no right or wrong way to journal. The important thing is to find what works for you and do it.

When the words to start a journal entry just won’t come to mind there are many prompts to encourage you. Here are some examples:

  • Dear past me …
  • Dear present me …
  • Dear future me …
  • What makes you smile? Write down 10 things that make you smile.
  • What I wish others knew about me is …
  • My short-term goals are …
  • My long-term goals are …
  • Write a goodbye letter to someone who you want to remove from your life during your recovery process.
  • What are three things you do better than most people?
  • Write down one of your favorite memories.

Can Journaling Prevent Relapse?

Relapse is a very real and scary part of the recovery process. It is important to find outlets that can remove triggers and temptations that could cause you to relapse. Journaling can become one of those outlets.

The addiction recovery process requires you to look at yourself in a different light. Writing in a recovery journal can help you or your loved one with that process. Expressing yourself on paper or digitally inspires you to take a deeper look into what triggers may cause you to relapse.

Finding ways to prevent relapse in addiction recovery is key. Journaling allows your mind to relax and focus on events or emotions that may be bottled up. It is a form of self-care that is recommended because you are in control of what you decide to put down on paper.

Journaling can help in relieving the pressures of everyday life. These pressures create the potential for relapse. Writing down your feelings allows you to evaluate situations and handle things at your own pace.

How To Use Journaling To Maintain A Sober Life

Something as simple as finding exactly the right journal can be enough inspiration to make you want to write. It may be the cover or the color or the material that the journal is made of – whatever it takes to motivate you is fine.

It is important to remember these suggestions when journaling:

  • Entries always need to be honest. This is necessary to grow and learn. You will find that honest entries will help you be honest as a person. Your journal is a place where you can face the events and emotions in your life without the worry of being judged or reprimanded.
  • Always celebrate every victory – whether small or large – through your writing. Your accomplishments will provide the self-esteem needed to move forward on your journey to addiction recovery.
  • Find a quiet place to write down your thoughts. A calm, serene environment will allow you to dedicate your focus and energy to your entries.
  • Keep your recovery journal close at hand. You never know when the urge may strike to write something down. If your journal is available you may find that it becomes a way to process the thought, emotion, or situation that overcomes you.
  • Remember to take the time to look back at past entries. You may find a lot of therapeutic benefits in reading past thoughts. You may also be surprised at the amount of progress you have made as to the days and weeks pass. This progress will be motivation for you to maintain your life of sobriety.

Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare has an addiction treatment program that can transform your or your loved one’s life. We are ready to speak with you about the available options. Our staff is available to answer any questions about the services we offer. We look forward to helping you accomplish your goal of living a life free from drugs and alcohol.

 

 

Article Reviewed by Gregory Struve

Gregory StruveGreg received a Master’s in Counseling from the Adler Graduate School in 2006. He trained at one of the top trauma and anxiety treatment centers in the world until 2008 when he became a faculty member at Grand Canyon University. From 2011 to 2016 he directed a program that leads the field in terms of innovative treatment of anxiety and trauma. During that time he even made several appearances on A&E’s intervention.