Journaling is one of the tools that I use on a regular basis to process my thoughts and feelings. Getting them out of my head and onto paper helps me to view them from an alternate perspective. I find this is one of the most effective ways to be reflective and encourage my clients to do this during our time together.
For me, journaling is not about cataloging my day and creating a record (that is helpful in some cases), but is more reflective in nature. I look back upon my day and recall what came up on me and focus on that. I make sure to put that down, what it means for me, and how it is going to impact my life going forward.
I wasn’t always a journaler – I didn’t pick this up until grad school, when I was required to keep a reflective journal for many of my classes. I did it to get an A, and then promptly dropped the habit once I was finished. It wasn’t until I started to get sober that I really picked it back up. At first, I put all this pressure on myself to get it right and force myself to write something everyday. This was a massive failure – I wasn’t writing anything substantial and came to hate it. It took me sometime to find what works for me.
Journaling has become a source of self-care for me. By taking the time to process my feelings and understanding how they are affecting my life, I have become more self-aware. I’ve made many strides in my recovery, career, and personal life through this process. I think everyone should take up some form of journaling – whether it is using a notebook, typing, or recording yourself, you will be amazed by what you learn.