At Mountain Laurel Recovery Center, we often recommend that our clients keep a journal to document their recovery progress. Research shows that journaling is an effective way to promote mental health while facing the challenges that are part of the recovery journey.
Journaling Doesn’t Necessarily Come Easy
If you’ve never written regularly, staring at a blank page may trigger feelings of anxiety. One way to get over this case of writer’s block is to turn to journaling prompts.
Journaling prompts are questions designed to help you think about specific issues. They are open-ended to encourage creativity and personal reflection, so there is no “right” or “wrong” answer.
Below, we created a list of prompts that build on the concepts discussed in our Pennsylvania residential addiction treatment program. We suggest that you print this list out and keep it with your journal so you easily refer to it whenever you’re in need of journaling inspiration.
What It Means to Be in Recovery
No two people are exactly alike, so recovery means something different to everyone. Use these prompts to reflect on your motivation for seeking treatment:
- When did you first realize that you had a substance abuse problem?
- What inspired you to seek treatment for your addiction?
- What does being in recovery mean to you?
- How has your day-to-day routine changed since beginning treatment?
- If you’ve suffered a relapse before, what did you learn from this experience?
- What do you think it means to put your sobriety first?
Keeping a Positive Attitude
A positive attitude is crucial for success in recovery, but looking on the bright side can be difficult. These journaling prompts will help you think about what you can do to ensure a balanced perspective:
- Describe a time when you started off having a bad day, but your outlook shifted. What happened to change your mindset? What can you do to recreate this shift in perspective the next time you are struggling?
- Make a list of quotes that inspire you from books, movies, or songs that you enjoy and explain why you chose each one.
- Create a list of affirmations you can use when you’re feeling down.
- Describe a time when you showed resilience.
- Who is the most positive person in your life? What lessons can you learn from their behavior?
Building a Sober Support Network
Your sober support network includes friends, family, healthcare providers, spiritual leaders, and members of the recovery community. These prompts help you reflect on the role these relationships play in helping you stay on track with your recovery efforts:
- Who in your life makes you feel like your “best” self? What does this person do that inspires you to make positive changes?
- Are there people in your life who aren’t supportive of your recovery efforts? If so, what can you do to minimize your contact with these individuals?
- How have your spiritual leaders impacted your recovery efforts? Are there ways you could be more involved in your faith community?
- If you have a sponsor, how has this person impacted your recovery efforts?
People in recovery often struggle with low self-esteem due to feelings of guilt and shame. Use these journaling prompts to help you reflect on your value as a unique individual who is committed to self improvement:
- What have you learned about yourself since being in recovery?
- What parts of your personality do you love the most?
- What makes you feel confident?
- Do you often compare yourself to others? If so, what can you do to make sure you stay focused on your own recovery journey?
Developing Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Being in recovery is about more than just abstaining from addictive substances—it’s about building a wellness-focused lifestyle. Use these prompts to reflect on the role healthy habits play in your recovery:
- What do you do to relieve stress?
- What new hobbies or special interests have you discovered since being in recovery?
- What is your favorite way to stay active? Is there a new form of physical activity you’d like to try in the future?
- What is your nighttime routine? If you’re having trouble sleeping, are there different things you could try to help you get the rest your body needs?
- How does your diet affect your mood? If you’re struggling to make healthy food choices throughout the day, what can you do to make this process easier?
Planning for the Future
When you put your mind to it, there’s no limit to what you can achieve. Use these journaling prompts to reflect on your goals and the steps you need to take to build the future you deserve:
- What are your goals for the next six months? What steps will you take to reach your goals?
- Where do you see yourself one year from now? What about five years from now?
- Is your own fear keeping you from reaching your goals? What can you do to move past your fear and follow your dreams?
- What additional resources would help you be successful in your recovery journey?