Journaling has long been recommended as a self-care tool for people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, but it’s also a wonderful way to support your mental health if you’re struggling with the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Getting your thoughts down on paper builds emotional awareness, lets you view situations more objectively, and encourages a proactive approach to problem-solving.
If you’re not already keeping a journal, here are some tips to help you incorporate journaling into your self-care routine.
- Schedule time to write in your journal each day. Journaling in the morning might help you organize your thoughts and prepare to face the day. However, if you’re having trouble sleeping due to anxiety and stress, journaling before bed may be a way to help you relax.
- If you hate writing by hand, create a digital journal. The format is secondary to the content.
- Don’t worry about spelling and grammar. Your thoughts are what matter.
- Feel free to incorporate doodles, photos, positive affirmations, or memorabilia into your journal. If you’re a visually-oriented person who loves to sketch and draw, consider creating an art journal.
- Resist the urge to pass judgment or censor your thoughts as you’re journaling. You’re entitled to feel anxious, angry, upset, or stressed even if the pandemic has yet to drastically upend your daily routine.
- For many people in recovery, journaling provides a welcome distraction when a craving hits. Consider keeping an extra journal in your purse, car, or desk drawer so you’re ready to write at a moment’s notice.
- If you’re a parent, consider making journaling a family activity. We’re living through a historically unprecedented time, and your family’s efforts to document 2020 life could potentially be of great value to future historians. Journaling can also help your children improve their writing skills while they work to process their own feelings about the pandemic.
- If you feel comfortable doing so, consider sharing some of your journal entries with your 12-Step sponsor and/or counselor. Knowing how you’re coping with day-to-day life during the pandemic can help them provide the support you need to continue making progress with your recovery.
- When you’re feeling discouraged, take the time to review some of your previous journal entries. Reminding yourself of your past successes can inspire you to face new challenges with confidence.
Your journal is a safe space for you to write about whatever is on your mind at any given movement. However, if you’re having trouble getting started, the following writing prompts might be helpful:
- Do you approve of the national and/or local response to the pandemic? Why or why not?
- What has changed in your life since the pandemic began? Are you working from home or helping your children with distance learning?
- What do you miss the most about life before COVID-19?
- What do you miss the least about life before COVID-19?
- What steps are you taking to stay safe and healthy?
- What lessons have you learned about yourself and/or your recovery journey during this difficult time?
- What are you most grateful for?
- How are you keeping busy while social distancing? Have you tried any new hobbies? Is there any activity you want to try in the future?
- How are you staying in touch with loved ones? Have you used Zoom or FaceTime to virtually bridge the distance between friends and family?
- How has COVID-19 impacted your spiritual journey? Is your faith a source of comfort?
- How has COVID-19 affected your recovery efforts? Have you found that strategies that worked for you before need to be adjusted?
- Has your sober support network changed due to COVID-19? Why or why not?
- Are you taking advantage of telemedicine opportunities during COVID-19? How do virtual appointments with your treatment team impact your recovery efforts?
- Imagine your life 10 or 20 years from now. What would you tell your children or grandchildren about living through the pandemic?
We’re Here for You
At Mountain Laurel Recovery Center, we believe a lasting recovery involves healing the mind, body, and spirit. We encourage graduates of our Pennsylvania residential addiction treatment center to incorporate holistic healing practices such as journaling into their continuum of care plan so they can build rich and fulfilling lives free from the burden of substance abuse. As an essential service provider, we will remain open throughout the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to provide the support, encouragement, and evidence-based treatment our clients need to continue moving forward in their recovery journeys.