If you’ve ever kept a journal, you know how writing down your thoughts and feelings can help with processing difficult emotions and provide a greater increase in self-awareness. Keeping a journal is good for your mental health, but it can also be particularly helpful if you’re dealing with the daily challenges of recovery from a substance use disorder.
Not only does a journal provide a safe space to externally process your internal emotions, it allows you the chance to visualize your goals and provides a place where you can see how far you’ve come in your recovery journey, and your life overall.
What is a recovery journal?
Odds are you’re familiar with the ages old concept of a “Dear Diary” kind of journal. If neon stickers and gel pens come to mind, it’s no surprise that you haven’t given journaling a try. And while, yes, there is a definitely a space in the realm of journaling that can include these kinds of entries, the process of journaling encompasses so much more.
A recovery journal is not just about writing down what happened to you that day, who caused what drama or other such topics you might have written about in middle school. Journaling in recovery is about using the practice of writing to process your thoughts, feelings and experiences in a way that allows you to make sense of the world around you.
A recovery journal has so many benefits, including:
- Helping you identify your triggers and creating a game plan on how to handle them when they arise
- Letting yourself grow in self-esteem and confidence by tracking your successes
- Allowing you to grow in self-awareness by identifying areas where you could have done better and planning how you will act differently next time
- Giving you a private, safe space to process what’s going on in your mind
- The complete freedom to use your journal in a way that benefits you and your recovery the most
If you’re in addiction recovery, journaling will most likely be a key aspect of the process, but how you journal can be entirely up to you.
Types of addiction recovery journaling
If writing daily entries of your life just isn’t your style, there’s no need to worry. Journaling, like any art form, is essentially limitless in the ways it can done. Whether you’re more prone to expressing yourself through words, drawings, mixed media or simple bullet points, there’s a form of journal for you.
In a materialistic and consumerist society, it can be easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what we don’t have and completely ignoring all the gifts we do have in our lives. Gratitude journaling is an effective method of training our minds to turn away from a mentality of want, and reinforces a mindset of simplicity and positivity — not to mention that exercises in gratitude are proven to increase happiness, improve relationships and decrease symptoms of stress.
Gratitude journaling is as easy as buying a daily planner and using it instead to write down three to five things every day that you were grateful for — it could be your morning coffee, a compliment from a coworker or a dinner conversation with a friend; or, it could be a breakthrough in therapy or a sober anniversary. You’ll be surprised by the way in which you approach your day to day life when you begin training your mind to focus on thanksgiving and gratitude instead of wanting and needing.
Art journaling is an all-encompassing form of journaling that involves entries centered around creativity. Maybe you write poems about the experiences you had and the way these interactions made you think and feel; perhaps you use scrapbook paper, photographs and clippings from magazines to represent your thoughts in a visual way; maybe doodling or drawing helps you to process your emotions more personally.
Art journaling can be especially beneficial to those who need creative outlets and feel more confident expressing the musings of their mind in a visual way.
Prayer or meditation journal
For some, prayer and/ or meditation is a crucial part of the recovery process, and journaling the emotions and realizations one experiences during prayer or meditation is especially important. By keeping a written record of these thoughts, you can continue to grow in your prayer, or seek deeper truths during sessions of meditation.
Bullet journals are an aesthetically pleasing form of journaling perfect for anyone who finds value in lists and goal-tracking.
Bullet journaling can be completely personalized — for example, you could write down all your goals for the week on Monday, and then list the ways you worked towards or achieved those goals each day of the week; perhaps healthy eating is a big part of your sobriety and you want to keep a log of all the foods you ate each day; maybe you want to list the ways you exemplified healthy living, so you note the minutes of exercise, the hours of sleep, the ounces of water and the quality of meals you had each day to keep yourself accountable.
Bullet journaling can take as much or as little time as you want it to, and provides an easy reference point by which you can measure your growth.
Additional recovery support
Journaling is an ideal way to record successes and trials in recovery, process emotions and write about your experience overall. It can keep you on track and accountable in a relatively simple way.
However, if you need additional support and guidance in your recovery journey, help is available. Learn more by contacting Silvermist Recovery at 724-268-4858 to get in touch with a mental health counselor today.