Advice

5 Ways Journaling in Sobriety Can Improve Your Life

Discovering sobriety, learning about yourself, and unravelling toxic patterns of thinking is a huge process filled with every emotion you can think of.  One of the best ways you can deal with your past and participate in intense self-reflection is through journaling.  Writing down your thoughts when you’re in early recovery helps harmonize your mind, body, and spirit which is incredibly important when you feel chaotic and unbalanced. 

There are many types of journals you can experiment with until you discover what works best for you.  “Gratitude” journals focus your thoughts on the positive things in your life that bring you calm and joy.  Finding gratitude when things are at a low point in your life is crucial to improving your life.  “Stream of Consciousness” journals are where you just write and write without stopping, without judging, and without any distractions.  Just keep writing about what you feel you need to until you run out of words.  “Diary” journals are just as they sound- a record of daily events and feelings and thought surrounding them.  No matter which type of journal you chose it’s important to write about your thoughts, feelings, perceptions, how you’re feeling health-wise, things that are haunting you, and your accomplishments (no matter how big or small because sometimes just showering once a day is an accomplishment).  Keep your journals honest and feel free to brainstorm and write with wild abandon.  No one will see it and your journal is a tool to be used by you in understanding yourself better.  Looking back at your journals years down the road will remind you of how far you’ve come and will bring a greater understanding of who you are as a person. 

I kept a journal for a little over the first 2 years of my sobriety journey and I’m so glad I did.  You can read it here!

Creating an entry every day isn’t necessary if you’re just starting out but aim for at least weekly and try your best to write for 20-30 minutes.  As you write you begin to feel lighter and lighter with each entry and your world slowly starts to feel like it’s falling back into place.

Here are my top 5 reasons to start journaling today:

  1. Learn About Yourself – Once you get writing you’ll start to be able to identify negative or self-defeating thoughts and you’ll slowly start to learn new perspectives.  Your self-awareness will start to improve and you’ll better recognize and monitor triggers. Writing about what’s going on inside your head can also start to make sense of your behaviours.
  2. Organize Your Thoughts – Getting sober or even just cutting down on drinking can come with a lot of chaotic thoughts and big emotions.  Shine a light on all of that by writing it down.  You’ll start to feel more in control and balanced.
  3. Set Goals – Brainstorm some goals on where you want to be a year from now, what you want to be doing this summer, or how you’d like to control your anger better.  Break down your goals into tiny mini goals and start conquering.  Keep track of your progress and hold yourself accountable. Once a goal is achieved reward yourself!
  4. Improve Memory – It’s so easy to forget about the details of an event but sometimes it’s the smallest details that grow into cherished memories.  Writing down meaningful things that happen to you is the best way to ensure those memories stick.
  5. Make Therapy More Powerful – I always bring my notebook with me when I visit my therapist and I write in it after my sessions.  Write down your homework for the week or write down what you talked about and any revelations you had.  If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to forget when it comes to emotionally charged situations so writing it down is a fantastic way to ensure it doesn’t escape from your memory.

You can keep a journal on your computer if that’s easier for you but writing things out by hand might have more of an impact. Here are some physical journals I’d recommend:

1. Look At Me Getting Sober and Shit – A Recovery Journal
This is a simple recovery journal that includes daily prompts so that you’re not stuck on what to write.

2. Tree Journal by SOHOPARK
Beautiful fancy kind that’s also refillable!

3. M-Aimee Digital Password Notebook
A locked journal for those of you who need that extra sense of security.

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