At Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, we encourage clients to incorporate a wide range of self-care strategies into their continuum of care. This includes keeping a journal about their recovery experience.
The Benefits of Journaling in Recovery
Everyone experiences recovery differently, but some of the potential benefits of journaling include:
- Tracking your emotions from day to day. As your body adjusts to life without drugs or alcohol, you may experience mood swings related to withdrawal. Journaling can help you better understand how your mood affects your recovery progress.
- Identifying behavior patterns that can trigger cravings. Getting cravings under control is often one of the biggest challenges in early recovery, but journaling can help with this task by showing you how your diet, exercise routine, sleep habits, and other actions lead to cravings.
- Viewing complicated situations in a more objective way. Do you struggle to control your temper? Are you troubled by negative thoughts? The act of writing forces you to step back and think about a topic in a rational way.
- Relieving stress by providing an outlet for creativity. By nature, humans are creative creatures. Journaling lets you reconnect with the creativity that you lost while you were actively abusing drugs or alcohol.
- Helping you better understand your relationships with other people, including family and friends. Journaling about loved ones encourages you to better understand their perspective, which can help you rebuild trust and move forward in your relationship.
- Fostering feelings of gratitude. Several studies have associated gratitude with increased happiness and mental health. Journaling cultivates gratitude by reminding you of all the things you have to be thankful for, whether it’s a hot cup of coffee in the morning or coming home to your new pet each evening.
- Documenting progress towards specific recovery goals. Making positive change is always difficult and it’s easy to discount the progress you’ve already made in your journey. When you’re discouraged, reviewing old journal entries can be a much-needed dose of encouragement.
- Developing a better understanding of what you want your life in recovery to look like. Recovery offers a new beginning, but it’s often hard to know what you want your sober life to include. Over time, journaling will offer clues about what recovery goals are most important to you.
Tips for Getting Started
If don’t consider yourself to be a writer, the idea of keeping a journal might seem a bit intimidating. At Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, we suggest the following tips to help you get started:
- Pick a journal you love. A recovery journal doesn’t have to be a small lock and key diary like the one you kept in elementary school. Your journal could be a simple composition book, a fancy leather-bound sketchbook, or pages in a loose-leaf binder. You could even use a Google Doc or a memo app on your phone if the handwritten approach doesn’t appeal to you.
- Don’t get caught up on grammar and spelling. Your recovery journal is a safe space to share your thoughts and feelings. It’s not intended for public consumption, so it’s OK if you make a few grammar or spelling mistakes.
- Try different formats. If writing in complete sentences isn’t your thing, try making a list. You could also write a poem, jot down quotes and song lyrics that inspire you, or incorporate doodles and collages into your journal. There’s no “wrong” way to express yourself when it comes to journaling in recovery.
- Ask your counselor for writing prompts. Although you don’t need to share every journal entry with your counselor, your journal may be a good tool to uncover what topics should be discussed in your therapy sessions. If you’re having trouble deciding what to write about, ask your counselor for writing prompts.
- Create a routine. Journaling for recovery is most beneficial when you make it a part of your daily routine. Try to get in the habit of writing for 15 to 30 minutes each day, whether you chose to journal when you first wake up, at lunch, or before you go to bed at night.
How Safe Harbor Recovery Center Can Help
At Safe Harbor Recovery in Portsmouth, Virginia, we believe in a holistic view of recovery. Instead of promoting mere abstinence, we urge practices designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit. Journaling may be used along with music or art therapy, yoga, or meditation to promote a wellness-focused foundation for sobriety.