Keeping a Journal as an Addiction Recovery Tool

Journaling is an effective tool for anyone who is recovering from an addiction. Some claim that it is the cheapest and most easily available form of therapy. It not only helps to reduce stress and improves mental health, but it may even lower the risk of relapse. Journaling is also a way to track progress and increase motivation. The benefits of keeping a journal are undeniable but still people will have excuses for not doing so. In most instances the reasons for not journaling will have an easy solution.

Types of Journaling

There are many different forms of journaling but the ones that are probably most beneficial for people in recovery include:

* Stream of Consciousness Journal. This is where people just sit down for an allotted period of time and write down whatever comes into their head. The key to this is to not make any attempt to edit the writing. There is also no need to worry about spelling, grammar, or punctuation as these interrupt the flow.
* Diary Journal. This is where people write down all the important things that have happened each day.
* Gratitude Journal. This can be particularly useful for those individuals who are dealing with a lot of negative thinking. By putting an effort into focusing on the positive things in life it helps to change their outlook.
* Spiritual Journal. This is where people write regular observations on their spiritual development. It is like keeping a travel log only in this case the journey is internal.
* Exercise/ Health Journal. This is where people outline their efforts to life a healthy lifestyle. This can be important if the individual wants to get the most from their recovery.

The Benefits of Journaling in Recovery

Here are just a few of the benefits that people can look forward to if they keep a journal:

* Keeping a journal means that people can learn more about themselves. When things are written down it makes it easier to observe patterns and find causes.
* Writing things down is a type of venting. It reduces stress levels because the individual is able to express their inner feelings externally. Just allowing emotions to pour out onto the paper can be noticeably therapeutic.
* Keeping a journal increases accountability. By keeping a journal the individual is being more honest with themselves. They will be less able to use denial to ignore any bad behavior or unwise decisions.
* If people are feeling a lot of negativity it may be because they are misunderstanding the situation. By getting everything down on paper it makes things a lot clearer. This means that the individual will be less likely to act on their faulty interpretation of events.
* Writing down any goals in a journal increases the likelihood that they will be achieved. It may mean more success and progress in recovery.
* Journaling is a wonderful way to track progress. It is nice to go back in time by reading older entries. The individual is able to see changes that they may not have otherwise noticed. People change slowly over time and it is easy to miss out on what has been achieved.
* This type of writing can be a way to come in closer contact with the subconscious. This can mean improved intuition and occasional life changing insights.
* It encourages people to think critically. Most people never examine their thoughts and assumptions. This means that they are usually functioning with a lot of flawed information influencing their decisions and actions.
* When the individual writes in their journal they have no need to worry about being judged. This can encourage them to be more open and honest with themselves.
* People in recovery can get periods where they are struggling to stay on course. By reading back on their journal entries they will be able to remind themselves of how far they have come. This can motivate them to reenergize their efforts to build a life away from addiction.

Common Excuses Not to Keep a Journal

Most people will be impressed by benefits of journaling but still fail to use it as a tool in their recovery. Here are the most common excuses that people will give for this:

* The individual may feel a bit embarrassed about their writing skills. This should not really be an issue though because there is no requirement to ever show the journal to anyone else. There will be nobody checking it with a red pen or rewarding a grade.
* People complain that they just do not have time to keep a journal. This excuse does not really hold up because it only takes a few minutes each day. If the individual is really short of time they could even do it while sitting on the toilet.
* A lot of people will suffer from writer’s block when they start to keep a journal. They just have no idea what to write. The solution to this might be stream of consciousness writing.
* There is a reasonable fear that other people will find the diary and read it. This could be embarrassing if it contained a lot of personal information. The way around this is to make sure that the journal is always kept secure. A great way to do this is by keeping an electronic journal and making it password protected. This will make it almost impossible for these writings to fall into the wrong hands.
* Some people just do not enjoy writing. Maybe it reminds them too much of school and the need to do things they did not particularly want to. There is a solution for these people too because there is no requirement that a journal needs to be in written form. If people prefer they can keep an audio journal or they can even use video.

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