Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction takes daily commitment and hard work. One helpful tool in the healing process is journaling. Journaling provides you the opportunity to express your frustrations, sorrows, joys, worries, and accomplishments without judgment.
Journaling As Part of Your Recovery Process
When journaling, there are no rules to follow and no pressure. You are writing for yourself. You do not have to complete a story or make the words flow in perfect order. It does not even have to sound nice. When you are journaling, the goal is to become aware of your feelings and thoughts in a way that helps you cope with your situation and understand yourself better.
We describe below several of the benefits of including journaling as part of your recovery process.
Reduces Feelings of Stress, Depression, & Anxiety
When struggling with stress, depression, or anxiety, journaling about how you feel or what you think can make you feel better. It helps your mind relax, decreases mental distress, manages anxiety, and reduces depression. It provides an increased sense of overall well-being.
Journaling Helps Separate Rational Thoughts from Irrational Ones
Sometimes thoughts race through your mind, and writing them down makes it easier to see which thoughts are rational and which are not. By realizing the difference, you can focus on what is important. You can start to act in life instead of react.
Helps to Recognize Your Negative Self Talk
Negative self-talk includes any negative, self-destructive, or self-defeating thoughts. At the end of a bad or hectic day, it is easy to let these types of thoughts take over. Without a healthy way to process these negative thoughts, you may internalize them. Your mental health is immensely affected by your inner dialogue. Journaling provides a healthy way to process negative self-talk and helps avoid a possible relapse.
Examples of negative self-talk in recovery include:
- I lost their trust. They will never trust me again.
- I am no good. I do not deserve to be sober.
- I am not strong enough to stay sober.
- I do everything wrong.
- I do not know why bad things always happen to me.
Journaling helps you become aware of how you are and what you are doing. It holds you accountable for your actions, keeping your recovery at the forefront. Journaling lets you see if you treat yourself with the forgiveness, dignity, and love you deserve.
Identify & Cope with Triggers
Journaling is about self-discovery and reflection. As you write, you will see both healthy and unhealthy patterns in your life. These will help you identify your triggers and learn which coping skills work. When a day is hard or hectic, it is usually difficult to make sense of everything. But as you write and read about your thoughts and feelings, the day starts to make sense. You can recognize your triggers, weaknesses, and strengths.
Journaling Helps You Heal Mentally & Physically
Journaling helps your mental health and physical well-being. Writing strengthens a person’s mind and immune system as they learn from their negative experiences. The process of journaling has been shown to decrease the amount of adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones that, when overproduced, compromise the immune system.
Different Types of Recovery Journals
There are many different types of recovery journals. You can journal using a pen and paper or digitally. You can choose to write more than one type of journal.
Here are several different types of journals:
- Daily or Diary Journal – You use this type of journal to record each day’s events.
- Stream of Consciousness Journal – Write whatever comes into your mind regarding your feelings or emotions about a past or present event. It doesn’t matter how crazy, silly, or strange it sounds, just keep writing. Do not pay attention to spelling, grammar, or punctuation.
- Gratitude Journal – A gratitude journal helps you keep track of all the positive people, events, and moments in your life. Expressing your gratitude and thankfulness will bring you joy and happiness.
- Health Journal – In this type of journal, you record all aspects of your health. It can be helpful as you start to see patterns over time. You may learn what type of foods, exercise, and environments work best for you.
- Spiritual Journal – This type of journal helps you stay aware of your spiritual growth. Keep track of any spiritually moving experience you have. Note your questions, your fears, and what sparks moments of spiritual connection.
Do You Need Help?
Are you or a loved one struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction? Help is available. Call and speak to a caring professional at Anabranch Recovery Center, located in Terre Haute, Indiana. We will answer your questions and help you take the first step on your journey to recovery.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.