Many of us were encouraged as children to keep a journal as a way to decompress from our days and express ourselves in a safe environment. As adults, many of us may forget that journaling can still be an incredible way to do those same things for ourselves.
Journaling can relieve stress while allowing us to completely experience our feelings. It can help us develop our critical thinking and problem-solving skills while improving our self-awareness and creating a record of our personal growth.
Self-Discovery Through Words and Art
As humans, we experience a variety of thoughts flowing through our minds at any given part of our day. We can discuss some of these thoughts with friends or family, but other thoughts may be difficult to verbally express. We can simply let these thoughts turn over and over in our brains, or we can gain better understanding and closure by writing them down in a journal.
Taking the time to put our thoughts on paper can help us realize things about ourselves that we may have otherwise not noticed. It can sometimes be easier to write down our feelings because it gives us the space to slow down and think about every word we are writing, instead of just talking out loud. It can also give us the privacy to feel comfortable handling certain thoughts or feelings we may not feel safe enough expressing to other people.
If we feel stuck when we sit down to write, we might try talking out loud in a stream of consciousness to get the words flowing. Using multiple methods of expression, including speaking to others, talking aloud to ourselves, writing on paper, and creating art, can optimize our ability to process our most uncomfortable or confusing thoughts and feelings.
Journaling While in Therapy
Finding a therapist who we feel comfortable sharing our thoughts and feelings with is important. Therapy is most effective when trust is established between the therapist and the client.
There are many benefits of talking to a therapist about our feelings as they are unbiased about our lives and situations. The benefits of therapy should continue after we leave the therapist’s office as we should leave with improved self-awareness and the ability to consider healthier outlooks in our day-to-day lives.
Therapists can offer advice and help sort through our emotions that can become overwhelming. Journaling about that advice and the improvements we notice as we put the advice into practice can be a great way to track our progress and growth.
Keeping Ourselves Accountable
Another way journaling can help us during recovery is by keeping us accountable. We can write down any plans of action we have to better ourselves and return to the written statement after time has passed to see if we have upheld that plan with ourselves.
It is also a great way to track the progress of our thoughts. We may not realize how much we grow mentally, but if we write down our thoughts and feelings about a situation in our life, and then come back to read it a few months later, we can be surprised at how much more clearly or positively we now think of the situation. It can be difficult to stay optimistic, but we may slowly start to have more of that mindset without even realizing it.
Different Types of Journals
We all have many different aspects of our lives. Creating different types of journals can help us organize and compartmentalize our thoughts and opinions.
We can keep a journal of our thoughts about current-day events. What are we passionate about? What do we want to stay up to date with? These could be issues we want to write about.
For example, if we are passionate about animals, maybe we could write about news articles we read about what’s happening with new chickens hatched on a farm and about how that makes us feel. We might also take the topic and show how it touches our lives.
Aspirations and Goals
We can keep another journal filled with our hopes and dreams. By writing in detail about how we might want our life to be in two, five, or ten years, we can gain greater clarity about our priorities and feel inspired to start working toward that vision. This journal can be extremely inspiring to refer back to if we need an extra boost of motivation.
We can set SMART goals to help us start working toward our visions for the future in our daily lives. Journaling about our progress on these goals can keep us engaged and remind us of what we are working toward.
Keeping a journal of our general thoughts and feelings about our daily life and our emotional experience of personal situations can increase our self-awareness. It can set the tone for our recovery and draw our attention to why we view the world around us the way we do. This can be healing to refer to later so that we can see how far we have come.
There are many ways we can impact our recovery positively. Some of those ways may not be as apparent as others. Along with seeing a therapist regularly, we can significantly benefit from keeping a journal. We may have thoughts that we can discuss with friends and family and other thoughts that we feel we should keep to ourselves for several reasons. Maybe we are not aware of how to verbally express specific thoughts, and they are best addressed on the pages of a notebook. We can take the time to write down exactly what we are thinking and feeling so that we can reflect on these issues. Journaling can help us grow mentally and become more self-aware. There may be issues that we were not consciously aware of, and journaling is a tool that can bring those issues to light. Call 449 Recovery to learn more at (949) 435-7449.