Journaling for many is a method for coping with everyday stresses in a healthy manner, and for those recovering from addiction, journaling can actually improve mental health and keep temptations to use again at bay. The simple act of writing out thoughts helps the recovering addict track harmful thought patterns, release stress, and monitor progress, making for a stronger recovery. Even if you previously thought that keeping a journal wasn’t for you, here are five different ways to keep a journal in addiction recovery—so that you can find a way to make journaling work for you.
Recount your day. This type of journal is familiar to most—it involves keeping a daily record of what went on throughout the day, what you succeeded in, and what you struggled with. These types of journals are great for helping you track what might be hindering your recovery and what progress you have made so far in your recovery.
Write out your thoughts. If you’re looking for something less structured, you might opt for a “stream of consciousness” type of journal where you simply write out whatever thoughts come to mind, holding nothing back. The goal here is not to worry about editing or about structure. When done successfully, a stream of consciousness journal can give you helpful insights into the mind and reveal thought patterns that might be holding you back in recovery. Many feel that keeping a stream of consciousness journal is the most therapeutic way to keep a journal.
Express gratitude. Keeping an ongoing list of things that you are grateful for is known to increase positive thinking and boost happiness. It can even help prevent relapse for recovering addicts. Keeping a gratitude journal gives recovering addicts the opportunity to reflect on the positive things happening in their lives—and to look back on these things when they are feeling low or unmotivated.
Track your health. Establishing healthy eating and exercise habits is important both for fueling your recovery and for keeping you focused on positive things that will provide lasting happiness in life. For this reason, you might consider using a journal to document what you are eating and how you are exercising. You can take a cut and dry approach, where you log everything that you are consuming and what you are doing each day to exercise. Or, you can take a less structured approach and instead reflect more generally on how your diet and exercise habits of that day made you feel. If you decide to keep a health journal, be sure to make goals as well—writing down your goals make you much more likely to achieve them.
Explore your spirituality. Many recovering addicts find comfort and success in tracking their spiritual journey in recovery. If you consider yourself a spiritual or religious person, then this might be the perfect type of journal for you. Use this type of journal to write out your personal reflections and to take note of inspirational thoughts coming from others.