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Journaling has many different benefits, not just to those in recovery but for anyone.  For someone in recovery, journaling can provide not only a way to practice being in the present moment but can also serve as a tool to reflect upon.

Meditation

Journaling can be very meditative as it forces you to be in the present moment.  When journaling, you’re writing about what you’re thinking or feeling, what’s running through your mind, etc.  Journaling is meant to be present tense in writing what is going on with you right now.  This is really helpful in recovery, because it can be easy to either dwell on the past or obsess/project about the future and can be really difficult to practice being in the present moment.

Getting it out there

One of the things that’s really important in recovery to help us not return to our old ways is to get our thoughts and feelings out.  It can be difficult to do that with other people, so journaling these things can make it easier to get out.  Relief can be found in writing down our thoughts and feelings, whether they’re positive, negative or somewhere in between.  It doesn’t have to be organized or perfectly spelled or punctuated, the important part is just not holding it in.  Suppressing these things can be dangerous in recovery, because they can build up and lead us to act out in ways that may be harmful to ourselves or others.

Reflection

Journaling offers us a way to reflect on our thoughts and feelings, both current and in the past.  When we’re feeling a certain way or going through something, by getting it out on paper we can read it back to ourselves and maybe get a different perspective.  Things always sound or feel different outside of our own heads.  By reading it back to ourselves we may think “well that sounds ridiculous, I didn’t think of that before” or “maybe I’m better off handling it this way…”.  There are many variations of perspectives that we could see by viewing our thoughts on paper.

Another way to reflect is to look back on older journal entries and re-read something you wrote before.  This offers a way to view your progress or changes as things will be different when you read it again down the road.  It’s often difficult sometimes to see our own progress in recovery, so reading old journal entries can offer us some insight into what has changed or improved for us.

Journaling is not schoolwork; it’s not going to be graded by anyone or judged.  Journaling is for you and only you, unless of course you decide to share it with someone that you trust.  It is meant as a tool that you can use in your recovery to help you get through, learn some things about yourself and process some ideas, thoughts and feelings.  It doesn’t have to take you hours to do, it could be a minute here or a couple of minutes there, it is completely up to you how to decide to journal.  The only suggestion is that you’re open and honest when you’re doing it.