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How Writing Can Help Your Recovery

Stress, anxiety, loneliness, anger, and depression are all common relapse triggers. Learning to manage your emotions keeps these feelings from getting the better of you, but that’s much easier said than done. For most people, emotions are the inevitable response to whatever happens to them, and the idea of managing those responses seems either mysterious or absurd. This is where writing comes in. Writing regularly about your experiences and emotions can help you better understand why you feel the way you do and it can help reduce stress and make you feel better in general.

First of all, writing down a difficult experience and how you felt about it gives you some sense of control over a situation. That automatically reduces your stress. The more specific you are about about what happened and how you felt, the better you will understand how those two things are related. When you’re in the grip of a strong emotion, you don’t have much sense of the specifics. When you write it down, though, you have to clarify exactly how you felt. For example, everyone knows what anger feels like, but you’ve probably been angry for hundreds of different reasons. Anger over being cut off in traffic doesn’t feel the same as anger over a friend lying to you. Developing a sense of these distinctions makes you a better observer of your emotions.

Second, writing helps you see patterns. Most of what we think and do disappears into the ether and you couldn’t remember it if you tried. If you write down what’s going on in your life, it sticks around longer. Even if you never read what you write, you often remember having written it. For example, you start to write about an argument you had with your sister and suddenly realize you’ve written about it before, and that you always argue about the same thing. Now you can figure out how to break that pattern. You can get as specific with this as you want. It might help to track cravings, mood, diet, exercise, who you spent time with, and anything else you might think affects your recovery.

Third, you just get the junk out of your head. When something is bothering us, we tend to obsess about it. Maybe we want to remember to tell a friend about it, or maybe we keep pointlessly rehearsing what we should have said in an argument. Either way, carrying around that kind of negativity isn’t healthy. When you write it down, you can let it go. Your brain says, “Great, I don’t have to remember this anymore!” and it stops bothering you.

Finally, it’s good to make a note of what’s going well. Expressing gratitude and acknowledging your wins helps keep you in a positive frame of mind. It reduces stress and makes you more optimistic.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.