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Is Journaling a Good Relapse Prevention Skill?

At some point in your life, a friend, family member, or mental health care provider may have told you to journal your feelings. You may have resisted the concept. Maybe you struggled because you have no idea what to write about, or perhaps writing does not appeal to you.

You have experienced thoughts and emotions that are hard to process. Sometimes you can carry stress associated with thoughts. Journaling can alleviate the unpleasant thoughts and/or emotions that you experience.

Writing down your feelings can be a liberating experience. You may be able to see patterns in your thinking and feelings. Journaling gives you the freedom to process your feelings without judgment or ridicule.

You are in charge of your recovery, and you choose the relapse prevention skills that work for you. This article includes information to help you decide if journaling would work for you.

Journaling in All Shapes and Sizes

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to journaling, just like there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to recovery. Both are unique because you are a unique person. There are different approaches to journaling, and you can choose the technique or techniques that interest you.

  • Reflective journaling is one of the most common types of journaling. You reflect on your thoughts and feelings throughout the day. This type of journaling helps you to get to know yourself a bit better.
  • Art journaling is a fun and creative way to express yourself through art. You make the decisions and explore the words of your soul by creating art.
  • Bullet journaling is for the organized journaler. You bullet your thoughts and feelings, creating an organized feel for what you are expressing.
  • Daily journaling is discussing events that took place in your everyday life. Daily journaling can be utilized in many different ways. For example, you could utilize a calendar or a planner. You may already be journaling and didn’t know it.
  • Gratitude journaling is writing about the spaces in which you felt gratitude during the day. Gratitude journaling can be short and simple or as detailed as you desire.

How Do I Get Started?

You choose what journaling method works for you. Find a quiet space and focus on your thoughts. Your journaling is tailored to your personality — no pressure to be perfect or to spell correctly. It is just you and the words you want to say.

Schedule several minutes a day to write down the ideas and feelings you want to express. Maybe you decide that you want to write before you go to bed, or perhaps you write in nature. Think of a place that inspires your growth and start there.

Another idea is to write someone a thank-you card. Expressing your gratitude to someone extends appreciation to another person and demonstrates thoughtfulness.

Benefits of Journaling

Journaling is a beneficial tool for recovery. Releasing negative thoughts and feelings on paper is an empowering experience. You have daily stress, and you need a positive outlet. Writing your stressors down makes room for positive thoughts to gather. Journaling allows you to unpack your bags without allowing others to see what is in your luggage.

You get to choose if anyone will read your words, and you are in charge of how much or how little effort goes into your words. Reflecting on your thoughts can motivate you in recovery. You may discover a part of yourself that you didn’t know existed.

Decreased Anxiety

Research indicates that documenting your thoughts and feelings can decrease anxiety. This is possible because writing is a great way to release negative feelings. At times, self-defeating thoughts can produce anxious feelings. Healthy coping skills can help you decrease anxiety. Journaling can be a positive outlet for reducing self-defeating thoughts.

Research suggests that journaling is the next best thing to seeing a therapist. You cannot connect with your therapist late at night, but you can jot down your thoughts.

Better Sleep

Regular sleeping patterns will improve mental and physical health. Often, the brain struggles to shut off at bedtime. Journaling is a positive tool that can decrease racing thoughts, stress, and negative thoughts and put them to bed.

Try establishing a bedtime routine by writing a to-do list for the next day. You will sleep better because you released your thoughts onto paper, plus you will have your list ready for the next morning.

Stay on Track

No matter where you are on your recovery journey, there is always room to grow. With journaling, you will be adding creative tools to your recovery and trying something new to add zest to your recovery.

Relapse prevention skills are the foundation of recovery. Those skills are your go-to when negative thoughts enter your mind. These are the tools to support your recovery.

Perhaps you aren’t used to writing your thoughts and feelings down. Your life is different after treatment, and new emotions are surfacing each day. These new feelings can be hard to process, let alone talk about. Journaling is a positive outlet for you to be as real as you dare to be. Figuring out the relapse prevention skills that will sustain your recovery can be overwhelming, but it is essential. The Guest House offers space to help you identify relapse prevention skills that are right for you, including group and individual therapy. If you would like a helping hand, call us today at (855) 483-7800. Our staff is happy to answer any questions that you may have.