Managing Stress in Recovery: Journaling

Managing Stress in Recovery: Journaling

This month, L.A. CADA is looking at dealing with stress during recovery from addiction. If we didn’t have enough work in staying clean and sober, people in recovery also have to cope with regular life stress – paying the bills, caring for children, and about a million other things. Substance use disorders are chronic illnesses, which means our long-term treatment plan must include a strategy to manage relapse triggers. Everyone’s experience is different, but stress is a very common trigger for relapse.

Although some sources of stress can be easily avoided, it’s impossible to create a stress-free environment. So, we have to direct our attention to finding ways to cope with stress that won’t jeopardize our hard-won sobriety.  In recovery, sources of stress often include:

  • Uncertainty about what the future holds;
  • Conflict in relationships with a spouse or significant other;
  • Conflict in relationships with a child;
  • Job loss or a reduction/increase in work hours; and
  • Financial problems. 

Stress can manifest in physical ways, too: headaches, stomach trouble, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and increased cravings for alcohol or drugs.

For many people in recovery, even those in long-term recovery, keeping a journal helps to sort out our feelings, struggles, and goals. Here are some suggestions for writing in your journal:

  • Pick a private place to write where you are free from distractions.
  • Set aside 20-30 minutes to write about feelings and experiences that had an important impact on you.
  • Try to write every day if possible; being consistent will help you organize your thoughts. If you can’t write daily then at least try to write on a regular schedule.
  • Throughout the day, keep pen and paper handy to jot down thoughts and feelings that you can later detail  in your journal.
  • Set aside time periodically (every few days or once a week) to review your journal entries and reflect on them.

Watch: Processing Emotions Through Journaling

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