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 Relapse Prevention - Journaling & Writing

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Writing our thoughts and feelings down on paper, or describing a troubling feeling or incident with pen in hand, helps us to better understand our actions and reactions in a way that is sometimes not revealed clearly by simply thinking or talking about them. When we put our difficulties down on paper, it becomes easier to see situations from a new perspective and perhaps better discern any necessary action.

Writing can help us identify the assets and liabilities that help or hurt our recovery. Journaling and writing can prove to be a valuable means to identify and express our feelings in a safe and healthy way. It can be a first step to sharing these feelings with a therapist, sponsor, or friend, for the first time. Writing things down can help us untangle our thinking and counter self-defeating thoughts with realistic counter thoughts.

One writing tool that many recovering people find helpful it to write a gratitude list. When they are experiencing mild depression or anxiety, feeling bored, irritable, or frustrated, they purposefully sit and write out a list of things they are grateful for. It can be difficult to do when they are not feeling happy so sometimes they use the alphabet. Thinking of something that starts with the letter A, and so on. We can be grateful for really simple things like apples, air, or animals at first. Some letters, like Z, and X, are more difficult and can be skipped. Eventually they find their attention has been shifted from an uncomfortable or negative space to a more positive and self-loving one. Some people get in the habit of listing a few things they are grateful for every day in their journal. Developing this "Attitude of Gratitude" has long been a staple of Twelve Step recovery.

Back to Relapse Prevention

Preventing Relapse Main Page
A few common tools that sustain recovery and help in times of crisis are:
Journaling our progress in recovery
Meetings, attending DRA and other 12 Step support meetings
The telephone, reaching out
Prayer and meditation  seeking guidance

Reading recovery books and literature

A plan of action, a written list of things to do when sudden cravings strike or symptoms increase
  Additional forms and lists that can help us to build a personal relapse prevention plan
Relaxation techniques
Service work, helping others
The Steps, the basis of our recovery
Talking to sponsors, caring advisors, and recovering friends
Recovery slogans
First Things First  
This Too Shall Pass  
One Day At A Time  
Easy Does It  
Keep It Simple  
Live And Let Live  
The Serenity Prayer
Today I will do one thing
More Slogans 


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