4 benefits of recovery journaling

March 17, 2022

What is recovery journaling?

Imagine the freedom of being able to let go of emotional pain without the aid or help of another person. Or the privilege of choosing to speak to those who are trustworthy to listen to such pain. Journaling will help you make that move to personalising your recovery for yourself.

Journaling has helped many through their darkest and hardest times as pent up information is released via the pen and paper; or the keyboard and computer. It is a helpful way to process and let go of the pain endured in early recovery. Not everyone in recovery will accept personal information as easily and neutrally as the journal does.

Hence, make it your best practice today, to begin journaling your recovery. Not only will you be able to let go of pent up feelings, but you will develop a personal relationship with a tool that has many more therapeutic benefits.

4 benefits of recovery journaling

Journaling helps you to:

  1. Process Hidden Feelings – Active addiction numbs feelings. In recovery, regaining feelings may seem overwhelming and fearful. It’s important to process those feelings and accept them as they are felt rather than fight against it. As it says in the Big Book of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous): “And acceptance was the answer to all my problems today…”

Journaling helps you to accept people, places, and situations that bring intense feelings such as anxiety among other emotions. Read “How to deal with anxiety”, to see other ways to tackle the problem of anxiety, which often times is hidden in early recovery.

  1. Identify Core Issues – Journaling may provide deep insights and realizations that could give you some understanding to the root cause of your addiction. Read “How Childhood Trauma Affects Addiction” to see the link between trauma and how the measures you took to deal with a traumatic past had lead you to addiction.
  2. Dispute Unhealthy Behaviors, Thoughts, Beliefs, and Emotions – A life of addiction was filled by much unhealthy thinking known as “stinking thinking”. These were ways of thinking and acting that promoted addiction as a solution to the problem of living. It is still present long after the addiction has stopped. Read “Stinking Thinking in Recovery” to know more about this phenomenon.

Journaling aids recovering addicts to overcome these unhelpful thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and beliefs by processing their negative situations through CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Read “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” to see how it manages to dispute the unhealthy mindset of the addict.

  1. Maintain Good Emotional Hygiene – We take care of our dental hygiene by brushing our teeth. We maintain our body’s hygiene by cleaning ourselves. If we take so much effort to ensure physical cleanliness, what about our emotional state? Guy Winch stated in a TED talk in 2014 that maintaining one’s emotional hygiene is just as important as the other forms of hygiene.  When faced with intense negative emotions, we need to practice good emotional hygiene.

Journaling helps you to be on top of your emotional state. By doing so, you will attain a natural high in living with the present moment. You need to replace the addictive highs with natural highs in order to remain abstinent from addiction.

Recovery is not just about abstinence but being happy with life as it stands. For if you are not high on life, you will resort to a state of being emotionally ill while sober. This is called the “dry drunk”.  

Journaling for recovery

Value your recovery. It is a gift to keep and yours to treasure. If journaling helps to keep you clean for the day, give it a shot. What have you got to lose? Besides a sore hand, not much. There are many ways to keep a journal. The most important thing is that it is kept in a personal, secretive place, where you can be sure of privacy.

Nevertheless, should you wish to share the contents of the journal with a trusted friend, family member, or counselor; do so, at your own comfort and discretion. What’s important is that you have an outlet for honesty in recovery.

So, go ahead, buy an exercise book from any stationary store, make it your own. Design it creatively, as you wish; and use it to journal the most important journey in your life – from addiction to recovery. When you look at it in years to come, you will see what a journey it surely was to find your way back to living for life.

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