A big part of recovery from substance addiction involves clearing your mind by calming the noises, distractions, and intense emotions. Journaling is an excellent way to achieve this goal. By writing down daily occurrences, experiences, emotional reactions, and reflections, the mind finds a space to process and declutter noises that would otherwise cloud your judgment.
Journaling may not be a natural tendency for many people. However, you do not have to be a good writer to keep a recovery journal. Once you experience the emotional benefits of journaling during recovery, it may become a habit quicker than you expect. It is not only a safe space to vent but also a powerful tool to help maintain your sobriety.
The Benefits of Journaling
Early sobriety can feel great, but your negative emotions may also begin lurking. Some people experience mood swings during this time. Some people find it helpful to talk to someone because it is soothing to verbally articulate emotions. Writing down your thoughts and emotions on a daily basis can also help you release this emotional tension by simply expressing them.
When you begin daily journaling, be honest about your stressors and triggers. They can be people, places, objects, behaviors, or emotions that stress you out. Journaling gives a good venue to recognize, understand, and manage your personal triggers. Venting on paper about these can relieve stress and anxiety.
Journaling is also a good way to connect with yourself. Recovery is a journey to rediscover who you truly are. Your addiction does not define you. Keeping a journal can serve as a pathway for self-discovery and reconciliation. Reflecting on growth or setbacks is a good way to achieve personal stamina.
The Relationship Between Journaling, Emotional Health, and Mental Health
Medical research has shown that positive affect journaling (PAJ) is a simple and cost-effective intervention for people with traumatic distress. As a form of expressive writing, journaling improves many indicators of physical and mental health. Because the inability to express emotions (or “expressive disorders”) often predict negative outcomes, journaling or other forms of expressive writing can help mitigate and even improve emotional expressivity.
Journaling can be especially helpful to young people who are going through addiction treatment. It promotes self-introspection, reflection, and change in perceptions. Young people can articulate their thinking and build problem-solving skills. Reflective journaling requires them to reflect on what is happening, their perceptions of the experiences, and how changes can be made. Journaling can also be combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in helping people achieve more self-efficacy and control. Self-efficacy refers to one’s belief about their own ability to initiate, persist in and succeed in certain tasks.
Recovery Journaling as a Form of Meditation
We all need a space to connect with ourselves, including our mind, emotions, and bodily movement. Recovery journaling creates that kind of space. Even when we are not engaged in expressive writing, our mind has inner dialogues that may affect our mental health. By writing self-defeating thoughts or negative self-talks down, you gain more self-awareness by re-examining how poorly you have been treating yourself. This is why journaling is a self-care practice.
Do you believe that keeping a journal can prevent you from relapsing? Recovery journaling can prevent relapse because by expressing yourself on paper, you can take a deeper look into the desires in your heart and the triggers that can cause you to relapse. Journaling gives you the space to relax and focus on these emotions and events that may otherwise be bottled up. In sum, journaling can become part of your recovery and prevention regimen with significant emotional and mental health benefits.
Practical Advice on Recovery Journaling
There is no right or wrong way to journal during recovery. Just find time and start writing down what comes to mind. Do not expect perfection. If you need some structure, you can decide whether you want to write daily and whether this is a spiritual, gratitude, or goal journal. The most important thing is to set aside 10-20 minutes every day and stick with the ritual.
You may also use journal prompts designed for helping with self-esteem or releasing stress during recovery. Examples include “What makes me feel stressed are…” and “What I wish others knew about me is… .” Remember to celebrate small victories. Keep your journal entries honest because your thoughts and feelings are private. From time to time, read back on past entries to gain a better understanding of yourself and your recovery journey.
We all need a space to connect with ourselves, including our mind, emotions, and bodily movement. This is especially needed when you or a loved one is going through addiction treatment. Recovery journaling creates that safe and expressive space. Recovery experts and interventionists can coach you on how to integrate journaling as a self-care practice into your recovery regimen. At Capo Canyon Recovery, near Mission Viejo, CA., we have experience treating addiction and can help you and your loved ones. We are invested in the long-term recovery and well-being of our clients. That is why we do not give up. You can benefit from both our inpatient residential care and outpatient, long-term care programs. With an in-house chef, luxurious beds, and an onsite organic garden, we’re here to help you on your journey to sobriety. With Capo Canyon Recovery, you can rely on us to help you achieve long-term sobriety. Call us at (800) 804-8714 today.