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Does Journaling Really Work?

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Addiction and mental health disorders affect every facet of a person’s daily life, from how they feel to act. With the overwhelming change necessary to cease one’s use of addictive substances and embrace a sober lifestyle, it is important to utilize as many resources and outlets as possible. 

Journaling is a common therapeutic technique for those navigating this change, and for good reason. This activity is an incredibly effective strategy for processing one’s daily struggles and emotions, serving as an outlet and a record of change and progress. Utilizing journaling to its fullest is an acquired skill, and each individual will have their own, personalized way of approaching the matter. 

Journals Take Many Forms

While sitting down with a notebook at the end of the day to chronicle one’s experiences, feelings, difficulties, and successes is a popular image of journaling in practice, it is by no means the only way. There are many different types of journals available, and finding one’s way of engaging with their journal is part of learning its use. 

Notebooks and pens are a great way to get started, presenting an individual with a tactile experience as they navigate the day. This approach also forces each person to slow their thinking, taking time to write out each word while processing it before putting it on a page. 

Some may decide to take to other journaling mediums. Digital spaces can be incredibly effective for those keener on typing or using computers. Typing out journal entries ensures that input is always saved appropriately and quells the anxieties of those concerned about their privacy and emotional safety. Its content is concealed behind a password, keeping their emotional thoughts, feelings, and goals safe. Suppose one works from home or has a home office already established. In that case, this option can also be easy to utilize as there is most likely already a quiet and private place, better promoting the necessary quiet time. 

Lastly, journaling can be a more casual practice where individuals document their thoughts, feelings, or reactions throughout the day. Composing text messages or emails to oneself following trying events or even creating a video or audio recordings to speak one’s thoughts can all be effective forms of journaling. Finding the right approach to journaling may take some trial and error, but it is worth exploring the various mediums journaling offers rather than giving up on the practice. 

A Journal’s Purpose

Just as there are many different forms a journal can take, there are also many other purposes for a journal that can serve as a proper dedicated outlet for any kind of emotion. Recovery is never a linear path up towards a sober future. Instead, numerous bumps, hurdles, setbacks, and breakthroughs make up the journey. 

Journals are a fixed, consistent point where one can engage with a safe outlet for however they feel. No editors or publishers are looming over a journal—it exists for one’s own purpose, and thus, it is the conduit for whatever emotion is most prevalent. Journals are just as essential for processing anger and sadness as documenting accomplishments. These daily outlet journals can create a genuine, honest picture of how one’s recovery is forming and the skills best learned while informing new ones that may need to be developed. 

Having a journal for a specific purpose can also be a fantastic resource. Health journals can track one’s physical health and progress. Gratitude journals can beget a transformation to a more positive frame of thinking while providing a positive, uplifting resource during difficult times. 

Documenting daily goals can highlight one’s evolving progress in sobriety, and journals dedicated to spiritual pursuits can help navigate newfound beliefs and mantras. Determining the purpose of an individual’s journal can further define its role in their continued recovery. 

Making the Journal Work for You

With a person’s purpose and medium established, it is possible to utilize this resource for many different goals. Having a source of motivation by looking back at one’s successes and breakthroughs can provide the necessary positivity to keep pushing forward in recovery, highlighting progress, and drawing attention to accomplished goals that may have once seemed impossible. These journals can also help identify trends in someone’s recovery journey, such as higher sources of stress at a time of day or week that seem to be the most difficult. 

The efficacy of each journal is up to the individual. Journals are an incredibly effective recovery practice, providing crucial information and space to process complex and challenging emotions. However, dedicating oneself to the practice is essential. Making efforts to write each day, if even just a little bit, can normalize the use of these outlets. Thus, they can be a powerful resource for processing stresses and when looking back on the hard-fought journey. 

Journaling is a powerful therapeutic technique, balancing a safe and effective outlet for one’s experiences and empowering those in recovery to develop their own best recovery resources. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we champion the idea that each individual is capable of empowering their recovery and sobriety. Our trained professionals and caring peers create a supportive atmosphere for you to explore your own best practices while coping with the difficulties of your unique journey. We offer an array of programs, from detox and residential treatment to intensive outpatient programs, all ready to be personalized for your needs and goals. This intimate atmosphere allows us to create a safe space to challenge your goals for a sober life ahead while addressing the physical, mental, and emotional impacts of your journey. For more information, call to speak to us today at (714) 492-1119.

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