When working through any recovery program, most counselors and/or therapists will suggest keeping a journal. Journaling has many benefits and has been shown to improve one’s mental and physical health. Writing your thoughts, feelings, and emotions on paper allows you to let go of these things that are holding you back from success. It also allows you to look back at what you’ve written and how far you’ve come at a later time.
Benefits of Journaling in Recovery
Journaling has a lasting impact on your life and empowers you. It allows you to write down old memories, so you can put them to rest and have peace. It also encourages you by helping you to put down goals and dreams you may have.
Should Addicts Keep a Journal?
Studies have shown that keeping a journal helps the writer to disclose their emotions without the fear of being judged. Journaling reduces stress, helps to keep the writer accountable, and helps them to discover new things about themselves. It also helps the writer to think critically. Journaling has been shown to reduce depression and grief and also improves immune function and overall health. Some of the other benefits of journaling can include:
- Stress Management – journaling helps to relieve stress. You can put things that are bothering you down on paper, get it out, and then let it go.
- Track Goals – journaling is a good way to set short- and long-term goals and track them.
- Accountability – you can overcome depressing and discouraging moments with moments you have written down that are motivating and inspirational.
- Self Discovery – journaling helps you to learn a lot about yourself. You are putting your deepest thoughts and emotions down on paper, and you will be able to notice patterns this way.
- Critical Thinking – when you are feeling down or frustrated, you can write your thoughts down. This way you will be able to analyze them and deal with them accordingly.
- Judgement-Free Expression – a journal is your own private emotions and feelings. You can write anything down that you are feeling at the moment, and you don’t have to worry about being judged by anyone.
- Looking Back – you can look back over all of your past entries and see how far you’ve come, whenever moving forward feels overwhelming.
- Writing down your thoughts when you are in recovery helps to bring your entire being back into harmony: mind, body, and spirit.
The British Journal of General Practice says:
Writing therapy, otherwise described in the literature as ‘expressive (emotional) disclosure’, ‘expressive writing’, or ’written disclosure therapy’ may have the potential to heal mentally and physically. In early experiments, participants wrote about their most traumatic thoughts and feelings related to a stressful event for up to 20 minutes over three or four writing sessions. To isolate any non-specific beneficial effect from participating in studies, control groups wrote about superficial non-emotive topics. The experimental group observed better physical health, improved immune system functioning, and fewer days off due to illness. This formed the basis of subsequent studies into writing therapy.
Types of Journals in Addiction Recovery
There are several types of journals that you can keep, but anything you write down will be helpful and beneficial for your recovery. If you aren’t sure exactly where to begin, here are some different types of journals that may work for you.
- Daily Journal Entries – Write down the events of each day and how that has made you feel.
- Gratitude – There is always something to be grateful for. Find something to be grateful for each day and keep a daily journal entry so you don’t forget. This helps you to focus on positive things in your life and can be very rewarding.
- Health and Fitness – You can track daily goals and progress with eating and exercise or workouts you are doing. You can also keep track of just your basic health and well-being.
- A Stream of Consciousness Journal – This type of journaling is where you write down anything that you are feeling or that comes to mind. You write down your emotions, whether good or bad. It is best to use a pen and paper to do a stream-of-consciousness journal.
- Spiritual Journal – Spiritual journaling is a good way to keep track of your spiritual growth. Spiritually moving experiences can happen at any time, so keep your journal with you.
You can journal about anything; it doesn’t have to be a specific type. You can download an online app, keep your journal entries on your computer, or get a book or notebook and journal the old-fashioned way. Do what will best suit you and help you most with your addiction and in your recovery. One of the most important things is to keep your writings honest. Writing down your thoughts and feelings helps to lift burdens off of you and makes your emotions significantly smoother. It takes a small amount of your time each day and will have a lasting impact on your recovery and your life.
Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers evidence-based addiction treatment. Our solution-focused addiction treatment will lead you on a road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer, call us today for more information.