Recovery journaling is a form of expressive writing. It also happens to be one of the cheapest and most readily available forms of addiction therapy.

With this style of journaling, your goal is not to produce a finished product. You’re not aiming to generate a polished, publishable story or an incisive essay. Rather, the objective is simply to put your thoughts and feelings down on paper or screen so you can better understand your emotions.

Journaling might throw up images of teens furiously scribbling away as they try to make sense of the world around them. In many ways, you’ll face similar uncertainty when you’re dealing with addiction and recovery.

Choosing to use a recovery journal can:

  • Boost your mood
  • Help you manage anxiety
  • Enable you to prioritize your problems
  • Reinforce positivity
  • Let you track your symptoms and triggers

How can you get started with recovery journaling, then?

Recovery Journaling: How To Get Started

Before we give you some hints on getting started, we’ll first dispel some of the most common excuses for not writing a recovery journal.

  • You don’t feel you have enough time: Journaling only takes a few minutes each day
  • You don’t know what to write: Try a stream-of-consciousness journal
  • You hate writing: Journals can take on any form. Try keeping an audio or video journal instead
  • You’re embarrassed about your poor writing skills: It doesn’t matter! You don’t need to show the journal to anyone else, and it won’t be graded. Relax and write
  • You’re concerned someone will find your journal: Keep a physical journal safely locked away, and password-protect digital journals

Having set aside those common justifications for avoiding recovery journaling, it’s time to choose yourself a notebook or journal. If you don’t have the time or inclination for this, grab an old notebook instead. Even some loose-leaf paper will suffice – don’t overthink this aspect.

With your materials in place, think about the best time to introduce journaling into your daily routine. Most commonly, people journal in the evening, but you may find it works better for you to kickstart your day by breaking down the previous day. Be prepared to experiment, and be flexible.

Types of Recovery Journal

If you’re interested in the idea of recovery journaling, you have several different options. 

All that counts is choosing the type of journal that works best for you. This may require a little experimentation.

Regardless of the type of journal, forget all about style, structure, grammar, and punctuation. All you’re aiming for is to record your thoughts and feelings.

See which of these forms of journaling, if any, takes your fancy.

  • Diary: Writing a daily diary is a smart move even if your life is smooth and stable. When you’re struggling with addiction, diaries can function as a simple yet effective recovery journal. If you’re unsure how to get started, begin by recording your activities. Refrain from commentary and just document your day-to-day. Use bulleted lists like this one. Once you become accustomed to journaling, you should find you’re more comfortable exploring how you are feeling and why you feel that way.
  • Reflection journal: Reflection journals allow you to carve out a period in the evening when you can reflect on what unfolded that day. Your focus should be on how you could have behaved differently, and how you could have made better choices. 
  • Gratitude journal: Starting a gratitude journal can help you to hone a more positive mindset. This form of journal is similar to a reflection journal, but you laser in only on the positive things for which you are thankful. The more easily you can openly express your gratitude, the better you will feel.
  • Stream-of-consciousness journal: This form of journaling is a great way to instill the habit of regularly writing. Forget all about style, structure, grammar, and punctuation. Your sole focus should be recording your thoughts and feelings as they arise.
  • Goal-focused journal: If you’re finding it hard to stay motivated in your recovery, starting a goal-focused journal can help you make concrete goals.
  • Spiritual journal: Think of a spiritual journal as an internal travel log. Chart your growth if this is something that interests you.
  • Health journal: Outline and formalize your attempts to live a healthier lifestyle by documenting your progress in a health journal.

10 Benefits of Recovery Journaling

Journaling as part of your recovery journey can bring about a shower of benefits, including:

  1. Strengthening your immune system by encouraging holistic healing
  2. Hardening your resolve by charting your progress and instilling a sense of achievement
  3. Allowing you to firm up plans so your subconscious can help you realize your goals
  4. Providing a free, on-demand form of therapy without needing to leave home
  5. Improving your decision-making and critical thinking skills so you can better cope with the demands of recovery
  6. Increasing your self-awareness and self-knowledge so you can better process the challenges of daily life as you start down the rocky road to recovery
  7. Helping to reduce the risk of relapse, improve overall mental health, and relieve stress
  8. Learning to view situations more objectively can help remove some of the rash decision-making that often leads to relapse during recovery
  9. Developing a better understanding of the people, places, and things that trigger you to crave using substances
  10. Improving your relationships by providing you with a clearer insight into the way you interact with your loved ones

Recovery Journaling: Just Do It!

You should now have a clear idea about which form of recovery journal makes the right fit, so all that’s required now is to pour out your feelings related to your recovery.

  • Choose a private place where you won’t be distracted
  • Write for 15 to 30 minutes. The length of time is not important at first, simply establish a consistent routine for writing
  • Continue writing daily. The more you write, the less you’ll fear the blank page
  • Keep a small notepad handy so you can jot down any thoughts during the day. Use the Notes app on your phone if you prefer
  • Periodically review your journal to get the most out of the experience

What Comes Next

At Landmark Recovery, our person-centered approach to recovery places just as much importance on healing your mind as healing your body. A holistic approach to addiction treatment gives you the strongest possible chance of ongoing recovery.

If you’ve been inspired by the thought of pouring your thoughts about your addiction onto paper, perhaps it’s time to consider undertaking a treatment program. If so, you don’t need to go it alone. Our goal is to help one million people just like you reclaim the lives they lost to addiction. To get things started or for more information, call us right now at 888-448-0302.