It’s safe to say that I have always loved to write. Writing was one of the hobbies that I, unfortunately, pushed aside when I was actively using drugs, but every once in a while I would pick up a pen and jot down some of my thoughts. To this day, I still have the journal I would write in before and during my drug use. I find it somewhat relieving that I've kept the journal because it gives me insight into what I was like at a very dark time in my life.
Fortunately, I have found a way to use a journal as a positive tool in my recovery and I benefit from writing in it every day. If you’re not the best writer, you may automatically assume that a journal isn’t for you, but whether or not you consider yourself a writer, here are four reasons why journaling is a great activity to incorporate into your daily routine.
1. It will keep you grateful.
Some days are more boring to write about than others. Depending on how you’re using a journal, a little writer’s block is more common than one may think. Even if your book is filled with entertaining prose and rhymes, it’s safe to say that everyone hits a brick wall every now and then. If you’re the good student that your sponsor has trained you to be, you make gratitude lists all by yourself without being asked. I wasn’t always the prized pupil so I never wanted to write down the things I was grateful for. This clearly led to my relapse. I learned that making a gratitude list every day is a great place to start, especially if you're facing a little writer's block. Keeping a journal of things you’re grateful for is also an excellent way to stay humble. If you tend to write the same things down each day, you can always just make one giant list and continue adding to it on a daily basis.
2. It will keep you in tune with your feelings.
Writing down your feelings is the best way to utilize a journal in early sobriety. When the word "feelings" pops up, I know that most of us immediately tend to shut down, run and hide. Writing down emotions in your journal does not necessarily have to be a mushy event. Knowing how you feel on specific days may help you identify the issues that upset you, make you feel isolated or even help you know when you’re getting dangerously close to a relapse. If you do relapse, looking into your journal and reading the days leading up to the event can define where the problem occurred, what feelings came along with it, and what you can do to avoid the pitfalls so another relapse does not occur. Writing down your feelings can also save you from a battle with someone close to you. Some things are better left unsaid, especially if you know they will hurt the other person involved. If we release them into our journals and only for our own benefit, it can prevent an argument that would have benefited no one.
3. It will help you remember normal days.
Marking down your daily activities is a great way to keep track of your life and see how your emotions fit into each day. You can record anything from going to the grocery store to visiting your grandma. You can even find online journaling platforms if you prefer to type out your thoughts. Some sites let you enter a song that may sum up your day, a mood to display how you feel and a text box to write whatever you choose to. Even days where you sit at home watching television are important because they can show you that your life is manageable without chaos. There is nothing wrong with having an uneventful day. Keeping track of the days that you feel good without any drama can be an important reminder later on when you feel you miss the craziness of your addiction. Remember, no news is sometimes good news.
4. It will foster creativity.
Personally, I have a really hard time keeping track of my days in a journal. Most days I forget to write in it and when I finally do, I completely blank on the days that I didn't write. An easier but equally effective way for me to use a journal is in a creative fashion. Whether I simply draw a picture or write a few lines of prose, I know that I spent a few moments expressing myself creatively and artistically. Using a journal creatively doesn’t directly correlate with being a talented artist or writer. In fact, most of my drawings look like a 6-year-old got into my journal. I am comfortable with this because I can look at each page and understand what my brain was trying to express. I know how I was feeling that day and what events surrounded the mood. Some days, I even write a few lines of poetry and read them aloud when I attend a meeting. This not only gives me a chance to explain and understand my intentions, but others sometimes can relate to my feelings, too. This allows me the opportunity to further discuss them with a fellow member.
Having a journal doesn’t make you appear any weaker or stronger than the next person. Instead, it can open a door to your thoughts and feelings that you never knew existed. And in the end, it gives you a chance to express things that may be better written than said to others.