Journaling’s Effect on Wellness in Recovery

Throughout history, people have made a habit of writing down their thoughts, activities, goals, and other mental processes in a journal or diary. The fact that the practice has endured throughout time speaks to its power. More recently, researchers are discovering ways in which journaling can improve physical and mental health. If you are struggling with an addiction to amphetamine or other substance, learn how journaling can be an effective recovery tool.

Benefits of Journaling

Benefits of journaling include the following:

  • Identifying thoughts and emotions not fully brought to consciousness – All of us have thoughts and feelings that affect our behavior without us being fully aware of them. Journaling, especially the form called “free writing,” can help us identify these thoughts and emotions. Free writing involves writing whatever comes to mind for a given period of time without stopping to re-read or think about what is being written. The thoughts and emotions identified in this way can then be evaluated and addressed.
  • Expressing gratitude – A 2012 Psychology Today article emphasizes the power of thankfulness. The author notes that gratitude has been linked to increased optimism and a decrease in physical ailments. It is associated with better sleep and lower levels of anxiety and depression. The article points out that the brain cannot easily focus on both positive and negative stimuli at the same time. Journaling thankfulness and gratitude can be a powerful tool for improving mental outlook.
  • Reducing the power of strong emotions – The University of Rochester Medical Center states that one way to deal with overwhelming emotions is to express them in a healthy way. They note that journaling can help in that process. Writing about stressful events can even provide physical benefits. A 2002 article in the journal Monitor on Psychology reports on studies showing that writing about stress and emotions can boost immune functioning in people dealing with illnesses. The article reports that suppressing trauma-related thoughts can compromise immune functioning and that people who write visit the doctor less often.
  • Identifying patterns – When people keep journals for a period of time, patterns may begin to emerge. People may notice that they regularly feel angry or depressed after being with certain people, or that urges to use substances are stronger when they are tired. Identifying patterns can help people change them.
  • Helping to prioritize issues – Journaling can help people recognize when certain emotions or problematic behaviors are occurring more regularly. If people begin to realize that they are feeing angry more often than they are feeling depressed, for instance, they may want to focus on learning anger management skills.
  • Setting and achieving goals – Journaling can help identify desires and areas in which to set goals and objectives. It can also help people reach those goals. A 2015 Huffington Post article notes that writing something down signals to the brain that it is important. The reticular activating system then helps identify opportunities and tools to achieve the goal.
  • Promoting mindfulness – Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment while being non-judgmentally aware of feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. The Huffington Post article notes that there is a strong connection between happiness and mindfulness and that journaling can help people achieve a mindful state.
  • Improving communication and relationships – The skills developed in journaling may translate into better communication with others. This can improve personal and business relationships. Writing about disagreements can also sometimes help people see all sides of an issue and better understand the point of view of those with whom they are in conflict.
  • Providing an outlet for self-congratulation – Positive reinforcement for achievements is a strong motivator. Sometimes, for various reasons, others don’t provide the positive feedback that people in recovery need. Often, others are simply unaware of the victories or fail to recognize their importance. It is not always a good idea for people to verbally congratulate themselves for achievements, but writing them down in a journal can provide positive reinforcement.
  • Practicing self-discipline – Becoming disciplined in one area can help people build confidence and skill in self-control and can lead to increased self-discipline in other areas, as well.

There are many ways to journal. Some people prefer to use a computer or other electronic device and some prefer pen and paper. Some people like to write whatever comes to mind and others find it helpful to answer a given set of questions or follow another structured form. The most important thing is to write as often as possible and to set up a routine that makes it easy.

Change Can Begin Today

Recovery begins with the decision to make a change. If you are struggling with amphetamine addiction and are ready to recover, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. Our consultants are caring and knowledgeable and can answer your questions about addiction treatment. They can help you identify the treatment option that best meets your needs and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Addiction is treatable. Call today and begin your journey to freedom.