Have you ever tried to write down your thoughts and emotions when going through life’s challenges? For a long time, people have used journaling to cope with life’s challenges, including anxiety, stress, injustice, and disease. Its therapeutic benefits are well-known and manifold. Those who journal often experience uplifting freedom and relief. They develop more self-awareness and sobriety about reality. With a pen and paper, you can embark on a journey of healing and self-discovery.
The Benefits of Journaling in Recovery
Going into detox treatment is not smooth sailing. You will likely experience intensified feelings of loneliness and anxiety. While group therapy (like a 12-step group) can help partially alleviate these emotions, you will have a lot of time to yourself. By journaling either diary entries, reflections, thanksgivings, or spiritual notes, you enter into a space where the self is open to awareness and analysis.
Keeping a journal can bring about a sense of accomplishment. It helps you focus on yourself and requires you to examine yourself in a different light. It encourages emotional awareness, which is an important part of self-care. You may discover new insights to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes reading back on what you wrote a week ago can also give insight into your own being. You might be able to better understand your own struggles. Journal entries can also include short- and long-term resolutions. Putting pen to paper offers a proactive space and a training ground for self-reflection. You can also track your progress and celebrate the small victories along the way.
Journaling can be considered a meditative exercise, with your eyes open and pen in hand. By allowing your mind to relax and focus on specific emotions or events, your mental health can improve. You also gain a stronger sense of control when deciding what to put down on paper. Journaling is a time when your mind consciously wrestles with the uninvited self-defeating thoughts that can sabotage your recovery. These include thoughts like “I don’t deserve to get better.” Or “I will never be able to make it.” Your therapists and counselors can help correct these lies, but you are the strongest ally to yourself in confronting these thoughts. By writing these negative thoughts down, you can reflect and realize they are wrong. This is an important step toward recovery.
How to Journal during Recovery
You don’t have to consider yourself a writer to document your feelings and emotions in very plain language. You’ll likely encounter moments when the emotions you feel are so intense, and you can resort to pen and paper. Capture how you feel in those moments of panic and despair. Don’t overthink–just put down your own words. Be aware that you need an emotional outlet, and think of the journal as a dear friend. Some people like to start a journal entry with simply, “Dear journal…” or, “Dear past me…”
Keeping journal entries first thing in the morning or last thing before going to bed will help you form the habit. Maybe you try weekly reflection entries and express gratitude and concerns. You can also write about memories. Writing about your favorite events and people in life can help you regain a firm grounding and appreciate the goodness of life. Similarly, you can daydream about the future and write these imaginary scenarios down. Here are a few practical guidelines for journaling during recovery:
- Always find a quiet place and a distraction-free time to journal. Set aside at least 10 minutes each day.
- Honesty with yourself is the most important thing when journaling. You do not need to worry about how the journal appears to others. This is your safe space.
- Try to be consistent and write every day if possible.
- Be kind to yourself and celebrate daily victories during recovery. Documenting these small victories can be instrumental for your self-esteem.
- Recognize triggers or negative self-talk during recovery and write them down. Later, read them back and gain healthy self-understanding.
Below are a few journaling prompts for you to kick-start this exercise:
- Things I have learned about myself during recovery:
- Today, I am grateful for…
- An unforgettable memory that resurfaced during recovery:
- Describe yourself in five words:
- I decide to say “Yes” to these things:
- Major mistakes I made in the past are …
- I will never again allow myself to …
Journaling can become your new personal accountability coach. Oftentimes, we become overwhelmed by our emotions because they do not have healthy outlets. Repressing these emotions can have negative side effects. Journaling encourages you to express and disclose emotions as they occur. You witness the unfolding of your life, and by translating events and emotions into words, you have expanded an inner space for self-awareness and self-compassion. Make journaling part of your recovery toolbox. It can help your long-term commitment to mental well-being and sobriety. Once you integrate this way of self-reflection on life, you will benefit from emotional freedom and a truer sense of self.
Have you been feeling anxious about entering into treatment programs? Are you finding it difficult to calm down and find inner peace? Are anxiety and depression pushing you towards relapse? Do you feel alone in fighting the emotional battle by yourself? Your emotional and mental health is important for successful recovery. You need a holistic approach to manage the complicated emotions during treatment and recovery. It is time to seek help from experienced mental health professionals. Schedule an appointment with a licensed mental healthcare professional or therapist at Laguna Shores Recovery. We believe in holistic recovery, and we are here to listen, coach, and walk alongside you. We are a complete medical and residential facility offering a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, 12-step programs, and treatment plans. Call us at 866-934-5276, and we will be happy to walk alongside you in navigating the emotional ups and downs during recovery.