Journaling: How Does It Help With Addiction Treatment
During addiction treatment the patient becomes more aware of their addiction, the reasons behind their addiction, and more mindful of their feelings. Many people kept journals or diaries as children but often stop when they become adults and are faced with other responsibilities such as school, work, spouses, and children. With so many things grabbing at our attention we often forget about taking time for ourselves. One of the things used in most treatment centers is journaling. Many people who visit with therapists are often asked to do “homework,” some sort of introspective look at what they think, what they are feeling about a certain subject, or just what they are feeling at that particular time. This often leads to the next topic of discussion in therapy. In recovery treatment there are many kinds of therapy sessions including one-on-one, group, and family therapy. A specific topic that can be used is just keeping track of how often you have a craving and rating that craving on a scale such as, a slight craving or a dire craving. Then looking at why you are feeling that craving at that level. Has something happened that made you feel a certain way that made you want to use? This is then something that you can discuss with your therapist and explore further. This also allows them to offer a coping mechanism for that event or feeling that can lessen the craving for the next time that it happens. Doing this can help speed your recovery along. When looking at the specific issues that make you feel like using and finding a better outlet for that urge such as working out, going on a hike, doing something else you enjoy, can all help you in your recovery and make sure that after treatment, you know how to handle the situation. Even if you do not share your journal with a therapist or anyone else, it is a time where you get to focus on yourself and your own thoughts and feelings. Simply, taking the time to write down your thoughts can allow you to think through the day, allow you the time to think through a situation, and maybe even allow you to confront something with a open and clear mind. Taking this time can help you work through a bout of depression, something that triggered anxiety, or calming a stressful time. By understanding your feelings and working through them clearly can increase your control over your emotions and improve your overall health. There has been much research showing the negative physical effects of stress on the human mind and body, journaling is a way to lessen those effects. Journaling can also allow you to get all your thoughts out and worded in such a way that they make sense. If you had a fight with a loved one, you can use the journal to explain why you were upset, and then use it to communicate that to your loved one so that they can see your side of the situation. Or you can simply keep it for yourself as a way of dealing with it, without the confrontation. Keeping a journal to help through addiction treatment and even after can allow you to improve your progress, keep track of your progress, and lessen the risk of relapse. Journaling allows you to be honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable for your actions and thoughts. There are a few different ways of journaling that may be helpful and used during recovery. You can keep an exercise journal, focusing on what physical activity you did that day and you feel it has helped you that day. Maybe you had a stressful day and after a hour at the gym, you feel less stressed, you notice you’ve been losing weight, you notice you are sleeping better, or any other improvements. Maybe you went kayaking and the day was beautiful, you felt relaxed and had fun, you met new people who invited you to join on the next kayaking trip, and so on. Another way of journaling is a stream of consciousness, just writing whatever comes to mind, what you are thinking about at that moment. If something happened that day that has stuck with you, or you have a feeling of anxiety or depression and simply describing it. Another form is a spiritual journal, talking about how your spiritual development and how it has helped. You can also write it as a diary, recalling certain events of the day or week and how they made you feel. Another form is a gratitude journal, recalling all the good things that happened that day or what you are thankful for that day. This can encourage a positive attitude, even if you are struggling with depression or negativity. These are just some of the ideas used in recovery treatment journaling. All of these can help you see how treatment is working for you or not working for you and allow you to better manage your treatment. If you find one element is really helping you now know this, if one thing isn’t really helping they may find something else better suited to help you. Journaling allows you a way to be in control of your thoughts, feelings, and ultimately your overall well-being. It can help you be more positive, help you work through any trauma, overcome stress, solve a problem, or even just make sense of your own thoughts and feelings. You can speak of all the strides you have made through recovery, about how you have rebuilt damaged relationships, how you feel after not using your substance for however long, you can even write creatively like a poem about your day or your feelings that day. This is your journal, simply taking the time for yourself and putting thoughts on paper can clear your mind and help you feel more relieved or relaxed. Journaling is, in a way, a form of self-discovery. It allows you to understand yourself and your feelings better. It can help you prioritize your responsibilities, goals, and problems. If you have anxiety, you can explore why and possibly make a goal to become more comfortable in certain situations by immersing yourself in something that causes anxiety to become more comfortable with it. You can look at setbacks and successes, maybe you had a craving but you worked through it instead of using. This can be something to look back on the next time you have a craving, knowing you got through it before. There is no right or wrong way to keep a journal, but simply keeping one can help immensely throughout recovery treatment and after.