Too much of anything is never a good thing, even if it's a "good thing" like exercise. Many people fall into the trap of overdoing it with activities that trigger the reward circuitry of dopamine release. A recovery journal is an excellent way to identify your triggers while working through the mental aspects to overcoming an addiction.
Overcoming addiction takes serious work. There are no shortcuts, no quick fixes, and certainly no magical pills. Whether its an addiction to overeating, smoking, chewing tobacco, or sex – addiction can wreak havoc on your personal and professional life. You can find yourself preoccupied with feeding an addiction, making excuses, and generally degrading your character as a human being allowing something external to control your emotions.
That is where a recovery journal comes into play. Journaling is a tried and true method of processing your emotions, relieving anxiety, and crystallizing your focus on why you decided to drop a bad habit in the first place. JournalOwl provides recovering addicts with a free online recovery journal. You can access it anywhere, anytime – day or night. When you are feeling an urge to fall back into old patterns, you can bring up your online recovery journal and chat with fellow abstainers in our live support channels. There are also many other benefits of journaling, which include:
Increased Self-Discipline. Have you ever witnessed someone achieve a lofty goal? They may seem like an overnight success to you, but they have been steadily chipping away in a disciplined manner for many years behind the scenes. By committing to writing in your recovery journal every single day, you naturally increase self-discipline. An increase in self-discipline bleeds over into other aspects of your life, like abstaining from sugar, losing weight, or committing to daily exercise. Can you see how a positive change in one area can lead to a ripple effect?
Greater Self Confidence. Journaling is known to help people understand their “whys” in life. Why are you quitting drinking? Why are you committed to losing weight? Why did you quit smoking? Maintaining and writing out, in detail, your list of reasons (whys) leads to greater self-confidence. It gives you the ability to “just say no” as cliché as it sounds. The more thought, the more effort, and the more time you give to something – the more difficult it is to abandon. This concept also applies to overcoming bad habits. The more effort you invest into understanding your reasons for quitting with great clarity, the more likely you are to abstain when a craving or urge hits you in the face. Keeping a recovery journal helps to remind you of these reasons.
Better Emotional Intelligence. Everyone seems to focus on the IQ of human beings, but it is often the emotional side of intelligence that determines success or failure with long-term recovery from an addictive substance or behavior. Your ability to manage emotions in a productive and mature way will lead to better life decisions. A recovery journal allows you to reflect upon your actions. For example, many people experience “false starts” when attempting to quit a bad habit. The false starts, failures, or falling off the wagon is often the result of mismanaging strong emotions. The urge to use a substance or engage in risky behavior can overcome you suddenly; and that is when you can make negative and impulsive decisions. By living an intentional life through recovery journaling, you can pre-determine how you will react to various scenarios that your bound to face in recovery. Writing out how you intend to react in a given situation will more than likely lead that pre-determined outcome.
When it comes to recovery journaling, you can go about it freestyle, or you could subscribe to one of JournalOwl’s 21-day challenges. With our 21-day challenges, you can choose from a variety of improvement areas, such as: quitting smoking, losing weight, or stopping alcohol. On a daily basis, you are prompted to engage with yourself at a deeper level to fully understand why you are addicted to something in the first place. Our prompting methodology is based largely on the Socratic Method of root cause analysis: Why, Why, Why, Why, and Why. It is simple in theory but takes commitment on your part. By answering daily journal prompts with our 21-day challenges, you create a framework of sustained abstinence to draw upon. Coupled with live community support from people around-the-globe, JournalOwl’s platform is an encouraging environment of people from all walks of life trying to improve themselves in one way or another.
You can't defeat the darkness by keeping it caged inside of you.
— Seth Adam Smith
If you decide not to embarque on a 21-day challenge, you can always opt to create a freestyle recovery journal. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Jot down your goals for the day. Establishing new patterns in life is hard work. By reducing your time horizon to “one day at a time” in the first few weeks, it’s easier to build momentum. Start by setting small goals in your recovery journal. For instance, if you are trying to abstain from sugar – why not gradually reduce it? Set a goal to have only half a candy bar every day for the first week, then set a goal for a quarter candy bar the second week. At the end of the day, revisit your recovery journal and write about whether you fulfilled the goal you set at the onset of the day. If you did not achieve the mini goal, write about why you could not muster the willpower to stick with your daily goal.
Be thankful and express gratitude. Study after study proves that gratitude is a powerful antidote to a defeatist attitude. When you are feeling down, worn out, or about to throw in the towel on your daily goal of abstaining from a substance – why not login to JournalOwl and begin expressing gratitude into your recovery journal? It could be anything like being thankful for that morning burrito from McDonalds, the oxygen in the air, or the warm bed and soft pillows waiting for you tonight. Staying in a continuous state of gratitude, especially during hard times, helps you ‘stay in the fight’ longer than you otherwise would.
Celebrate your accomplishments. When times get tough, its easy to forget how strong of a person you have truly become in life. With your recovery journal, it’s important to celebrate yourself for each milestone. It does not need to be a public display of celebration. Too many times, we look to the external world with Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to brag about our accomplishments. Gaining ‘Likes’ is an external form of validation and doesn’t result in long-term change or fulfillment. Celebrate your accomplishments privately in your recovery journal by congratulating yourself. You must become your own best friend, your own coach, and your own cheerleader to succeed in life. Nobody is coming to help. Ultimately, it is up to you.
Starting a recovery journal does not need to overly complicated. Start small and begin with a few sentences every single day. Do not attempt to boil the ocean. Small wins will stack upon each other, until they become larger and larger. Before you know it, you’ll have 21 days of abstinence under your belt and a new habit pattern formed.