Unlocking the Power of Journaling in Recovery

Journaling – the process of expressing your innermost thoughts and feelings either on paper or digitally – can be a profoundly powerful recovery tool.

Benefits of Journaling

There are many benefits of journaling. These include:

Journaling is a great way to check-in on yourself and your recovery. The process can reveal trends which could signal the signs of early relapse. For example, perhaps you notice patterns around missing recovery meetings, harbouring negative feelings, and mental health distress.

Journaling provides a therapy-like tool where you can write/type about the things that are on your mind. This process helps you identify irrational responses and negative attitudes you may hold. Journaling therefore also provides the opportunity for you to actively counter these with self-affirming reflections that help to foster self-esteem.

Is there a right way to journal?

There isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to journal. However, there are some steps that you can take to ensure you get the most out of your experience.

  • Be honest. Your journal is where you can face events and feelings without the worry of judgment or reprimand. Being honest with yourself is a key component of recovery, which can lead to developing an understanding of the realities of your life.
  • Celebrate yourself. Accomplishments provide a boost to self-esteem which is very helpful as you move forward on your journey of recovery. Use your journal as a place to celebrate accomplishments – big and small.
  • Quiet brings focus. Journal in a quiet place. A calm environment will allow you to dedicate your focus and energy to your entries and help you tap into your deeper self.
  • Keep your routine. Establishing a journal routine will help ensure that you are sharing and unpacking your thoughts and feelings regularly, which in turn will support your mental health and recovery.
  • Look back. It can be therapeutic to look back over past journal entries periodically. You may be surprised at the progress you have made in the days and weeks prior. This progress will be motivation for you to maintain your life of recovery.

Types of Journaling to Practice

Gratitude Journaling
It’s easy to take the things that make us happy for granted. Often, with gratitude journaling, you write about the people, places, and things that you are grateful for. Writing about what you are grateful for can provide a better outlook on life and improve your wellbeing.  Starting your day in gratitude may lead to a positive shift in your thinking.

Goal Journaling
In this type of journal, you’d focus on short-term and long-term goals, and use each journal entry as an opportunity to track your progress. Through a review of these entries, you can identify ways to achieve your goals.

Diary Journaling
You would document daily events and include any struggles and/or accomplishments. Writing about your thoughts can provide comfort and bring focus to your life.

How to begin Journaling

There are many ways to start journaling. First, decide what type of journaling you’d like to do. Then, you can use prompts to help spur your thoughts. A Google search for ‘Addiction recovery journal prompts’ can offer you many suggestions. Here are some ideas:

  • Dear present or future me…
  • What is the most important thing I’d like to accomplish today?
  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What did I accomplish today?

About the Authors

Renascent Staff
The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.