Our brains are constantly working regardless of where we are or what we are doing. They work to take in information from our surroundings and experiences and analyze it accordingly. Unfortunately, when individuals struggle with mental health or substance use disorders (SUDs), it can be difficult for their brains to take in and process information. Instead, they become preoccupied with harmful or damaging thoughts and emotions perpetuating their symptoms or repeated substance use.
When we have no outlet for challenging or intrusive thoughts and emotions, those thoughts stay in our brain and can contribute to worsening mental health symptoms and behaviors. Treatment for mental health and SUDs teaches individuals how to connect their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in several different ways. One way of connecting to those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is journaling. Journaling is a powerful healing tool that encourages individuals to engage in self-expression through writing. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer or you don’t like to write, journaling can benefit your mental health and overall recovery.
The Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health
Journaling is the creative process of writing down your thoughts and emotions. As compared to verbalizing these things to a friend, journaling makes your thoughts and emotions tangible, creating a sense of freedom and release. There does not need to be any rhyme or reason for what you log in; sometimes, it is just nice to physically express your sorrows, frustrations, triumphs, and gratitude. Still, if you choose to journal during your recovery, you will experience a significant number of benefits from it.
Journaling Promotes Self-Expression
One significant benefit of journaling for your recovery is that it promotes self-expression. Before you began your treatment journey, you likely felt controlled by the symptoms of your mental health disorder or SUD. As a result, you may have felt identified solely by your diagnosis. It is essential to understand your diagnosis does not define you. During treatment and recovery, you will be encouraged to find self-expression techniques that allow you to feel and verbalize your emotions healthily.
Journaling, then, becomes a valuable tool to aid in self-expression because you can let your creativity shine. You can choose to write, type, draw, scrapbook, and color how you feel. You can keep your journaling private or share it with your treatment team or family. No matter how you journal, you allow your thoughts and emotions to travel outside your brain and onto the paper rather than keeping them stuck inside your mind.
Journaling Reduces Stress
Another benefit that journaling can have for your recovery is that it can reduce stress. When you are recovering from a mental health disorder or substance use, it is vital that you learn healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress. Often, stress is the main contributor to a relapse of symptoms or repeated substance use. Therefore, it is essential that you know and utilizes healthy coping skills during stressful experiences throughout your recovery journey.
Journaling reduces stress because it can serve as an emotional release of negative thoughts and feelings. No matter how hard we may try to avoid negative thoughts and emotions, they are a part of life. Negative emotions can sometimes be helpful because they motivate us to improve and do better. As you journal about challenging or stressful experiences during your recovery, you will be able to understand your situation better and more clearly.
Journaling Records Your Progress
One of the most significant benefits of journaling during your recovery is that it allows you to record your progress. Even if you choose to journal once a week throughout recovery, you will be able to look back physically and see how much progress you have made so far. Rereading old journal entries can also help improve your memory and encourage you to recognize all the victories you have made along the way.
As you continue your lifelong recovery journey, you will need to set goals and readdress your triggers. Journaling is critical because it reminds you of your recovery goals and encourages you to make progress towards those goals. Similarly, it will help you analyze your potential substance use or mental health triggers, increasing your awareness throughout your healing journey. Journaling allows you to acknowledge where you are, where you have been, and where you are going while fostering your motivation to choose recovery over and over again.
Even if you have been in recovery for a while, you know that sometimes it can only take one trigger to induce a relapse. Journaling can protect and strengthen your recovery and aid in relapse prevention.
Journaling is an expressive tool that encourages you to release your thoughts and emotions onto paper. Often, individuals who struggle with mental health or substance use disorders feel controlled by their thoughts and emotions, which tends to drive their problematic behaviors. When individuals utilize a healthy outlet, such as journaling, they can create a safe space for their thoughts and emotions to be released. Journaling in recovery can promote self-expression, reduce stress, record your progress, and aid in relapse prevention. SoCal Mental Health is a treatment center that understands the value that journaling can have on your treatment and recovery journey. We are a facility that offers a wide range of treatment programs and therapeutic modalities that help individualize our client care. No matter what you are struggling with, we can help you on your path to healing. Call us today at (949) 502-2041.