Journaling is a deceptively powerful tool for addiction recovery. In some ways, it plays an organizing role in your overall recovery. That is, journaling can’t replace things like building a sober network, going to therapy, or adopting healthy lifestyle habits but it can help you get more out of those things. Here’s how.
It helps you spot patterns.
First, daily journaling helps you spot patterns. You don’t even have to go into much depth for this to be useful. For example, a daily entry might include how much you slept, what you ate, what you did, who you talked to, and how you felt. These are pretty basic things that affect your state of mind. If you want, you can get into more depth about your thoughts and feelings but even a pretty basic description of your daily activity can give you quite a bit of insight. You may decide to review this information periodically, looking for trends and patterns but you will probably notice some patterns just from the daily reflection it takes to write things down. For example, you may notice you’re always in a bad mood after talking to a particular person or that you have trouble concentrating whenever you have pizza for lunch. Having this insight can help you stay healthy and manage your mood.
It reinforces good habits.
Writing isn’t just a means of passively recording what happened; it’s also a way to change your thinking and behavior. For example, a well known study on gratitude found that people who wrote down just a few things they were grateful for during the past week were more optimistic and felt better about their lives than people who wrote down a few things that annoyed them in the past week. Therapists using cognitive behavioral therapy often ask clients to write down times they felt negative emotions and what events were linked to those emotions in order to identify and challenge any distorted thinking that might connect a challenging event to a negative emotion.
It helps relieve stress.
Finally, daily journaling is a great way to relieve stress. It’s a safe place to vent your frustrations. Journaling can help short-circuit rumination–the obsessive pattern of rehashing regrets or worries that is closely associated with anxiety and depression. When you get your worries on paper, you don’t have to keep rehearsing them in your mind. Writing things down is also a useful first step in solving problems. Often, our problems bounce around half-formed in our heads and it’s only when we try to articulate them on paper that we realize they’re nothing to worry about. If they are legitimate, stating the problem clearly is the first step in finding a workable solution.
At Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California, writing is an integral part of our unique treatment program for men. We believe in helping our clients rebuild their lives through better physical, mental, and emotional health. Call us today at 855-202-2138 to learn more.