Recovery Writing: Keeping a Journal Improves Your Mental Health

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Mental health and physical health are of the utmost importance to people in addiction recovery. Anything you can do to boost your mental wellbeing and physical fitness will significantly improve your outlook on life. In recovery, a positive attitude changes everything.

Improving your physical health usually comes down to introducing exercise and a healthy diet into your schedule. If you completed an addiction treatment program, then you were probably advised to prioritize healthy living.

It’s likely that your counselors and clinicians shared with you the benefits of eating right and physical fitness. They probably explained that physical health and mental health are linked. Since people in early recovery are healing, they must do whatever they can to expedite the healing process.

Hopefully, you make a point of eating healthy foods and exercising three to five times a week. The latter does not require that you go to the gym; daily 30-minute walks can go a long way towards improving your fitness. Those who make fitness a priority feel better and thus are better able to maintain a positive attitude.

If you are working a program of recovery, then you know how vital it is to stay positive. Getting down on yourself or harboring negative emotions towards yourself and others will not benefit your recovery.

Naturally, there are several ways that you can bolster your mental health, aside from healthy living. Attending meetings, sharing, and working with a sponsor help to process your emotions productively. Such behaviors will help you manage and cope with stress in nondestructive ways.

There are also activities you can do at home that will aid you in achieving your goal of long-term recovery. Take journaling, for instance, those who journal benefit immensely from the practice.

Keeping a Journal in Recovery

Working a program of recovery teaches you ways of navigating the stressors of everyday life. Stress, as you well know, can derail your recovery if it is not managed in healthy ways. Coping with the obstacles of daily life is not easy for many people in early recovery. As such, men and women in sobriety must adopt practices that can aid in stress management.

You probably go to a meeting or call your sponsor when you are stressed out; bottling up negative emotions is detrimental. However, you may not always be able to catch a meeting or get a hold of a trusted peer. If you have a method for processing what is bothering you when you are alone, then you can keep stress from triggering you and prevent cravings from developing.

Journaling is an effective method of dealing with things that are bothering you. Those who journal are able to gain perspective and insight on how to navigate a challenging situation. What’s more, you do not have to be an excellent writer to benefit from writing, and there isn’t one way of journaling your thoughts.

Addicts and alcoholics in early recovery have many thoughts racing through their heads. They also are still contending with the wreckage of their past, which can lead to negative emotions and stress. Jotting down how you are feeling and the root of it can help you chart a course toward a more positive outlook.

It’s important to distinguish that journaling is not keeping a diary, which is good news for men who may feel like writing about your feelings is not a masculine activity. Many men in recovery journal every day, and it has no impact on masculinity. What’s more, journaling could be boosting their physical fitness.

Journaling Can Boost Your Immune System

F. Diane Barth, a psychotherapist in New York City, wrote a fascinating article on the subject of journaling for NBC Think recently. Barth discusses the myriad of benefits that can come from journaling. Besides boosting your mental health, Barth cites studies that indicate journaling may impact one’s physical health.

Barth, a licensed clinical social worker, points to two different studies that show that journaling is beneficial to the immune system. The belief is that journaling reduces stress, which boosts the immune system, therefore improving your physical health. Diane Barth writes:

The conclusions drawn by both studies were that daily writing about emotionally significant experiences can improve our immune system, probably in a way not totally different from exercise, which is by reducing the chemicals that stress releases in our bodies.

One study, published in JAMA, involved participants who are living with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis. The other study included HIV-infected patients.

As we pointed out above, journaling is helpful for any gender. Barth mentions in her piece that John D. Rockefeller, General George Patton, and Winston Churchill kept journals. It’s fair to say that all three men dealt with enormous amounts of stress at different points in their life.

At PACE, we encourage you to give journal-writing a try when next you feel stressed. If you are already keeping a daily journal, then keep it up as you continue to strengthen your recovery.

California Gender-Specific Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

Are you or a male loved one contending with a mental health disorder, alcohol or substance use disorder, or a co-occurring disorder? If so, please reach out to PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our various evidence-based programs for men. We can help you begin the journey of healing and provide you with the tools to achieve lasting recovery. Please call 800-526-1851 if you have any questions and to discuss treatment options.

Recovery Requires Compassion, Tolerance, and Giving Back

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Tolerance, compassion, and giving back to the recovery community will help you on your path toward progress. At this point in your addiction recovery, you probably know that you cannot make the journey alone; this is especially true if you have completed an addiction treatment program.

If you are attending meetings, then you have seen men and women working together to keep their diseases at bay. You have probably also seen countless acts of compassion like people with more time extending their hand to the newcomer. Making those with short lengths of sobriety feel welcome and safe increases the likelihood that they will stick around.

When you first got to the rooms, you were welcomed with open arms. You saw there was a seat with your name on it and a fellowship that was happy to see you, even though you were a stranger. If you stuck around, got a sponsor, and worked the steps, then you had ample opportunity to develop relationships with your peers. The members of your homegroup are hopefully good friends and acquaintances by now.

Men and women working a program learn the value of compassion and tolerance towards others. They also understand that they must show the same to themselves; people who beat up on themselves for making mistakes or the wreckage of their past have trouble staying the course.

There is a saying in the rooms, look for similarities, not differences between you and your peers. It is exponentially more comfortable to be compassionate and tolerant of others if you adhere to the above principle.

Compassion and Tolerance Allows You to Give Back

Judgment has no place in the rooms of recovery. Each person has their own story, but everyone shares the common goal of lasting progress. When you avoid being judgmental of yourself and others, it is much simpler to maintain a positive attitude. As we say at PACE Recovery Center, a positive attitude changes everything.

If you attend a lot of meetings, then you will come across individuals who are not your cup of tea, and that is alright. You do not have to foster relationships with everyone in the rooms, but you must afford each person compassion and tolerance if you hope to get the same. 12 Steps programs are not religious, but remembering the "Golden Rule" is beneficial. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Remembering the Golden Rule will help you approach each person from a place of kindness and acceptance. It will allow being a pillar of strength with those who have less time than you. Giving back to the community and helping newcomers is why 12 Step recovery has help people stay clean and sober for nearly a century.

Having worked all the Steps and with an established footing in recovery, it's time to start giving back. You cannot keep what you have if you do not give it away. What does giving back look like? Giving back means sponsoring others, volunteering your time at meetings (i.e., service commitments), and always being there for a fellow member of the community.

Everyone is equal in the rooms of recovery, but the newcomer is of particular importance. Helping them achieve milestones will strengthen your recovery. The 12th Step is not a finish line; it's the beginning of a new chapter, one that involves paying it forward and carrying the message.

Helping Others in Recovery

Long-term recovery is possible because men and women work together to make personal progress. Protecting your progress will hinge on your willingness to give back and walk others through the steps. Your continued success in the program depends on being a model for all who enter the rooms in the grips of despair.

Walking up to a newcomer and saying hello lets them know that they are not alone, that they've come to the right place. Inviting a newcomer to grab a coffee so that you can learn more about them, lets a newcomer know that someone cares. Your compassion could be a catalyst for a newcomer to keep coming back.

Sitting down with someone who has less time than you could lead to sponsorship. If you have worked all the Steps, then you know what to do; you can turn to your sponsor if ever you are unsure about something. So goes the process of recovery; it's a chain reaction that enables millions of people to achieve long-term recovery.

Southern California Addiction Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of men who are struggling with addiction and mental health disorders. Please contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based programs and begin a life-changing journey of recovery. 800-526-1851

Recovery Re-Evaluation: Your Lifestyle Matters

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Re-evaluating your lifestyle from time to time is essential for making sure you remain on track in early recovery. It’s easy to slip back into old ways of thinking that you learned to rid yourself of in treatment. Before you know it, you can find yourself associating with people who are not beneficial to your continued progress.

In addiction treatment, everyone learns that achieving long-term recovery hinges on doing away with people, places, and things that run counter to your program. It can be hard to say goodbye to old friends and acquaintances, but cut off ties you must to prevent relapse. You learn that staying away from places that can trigger a relapse is also beneficial, as well as anything that can cause you to crave a drink or drug, i.e., no longer listening to a particular band.

Once out of treatment – whether you move on to sober living or returning home – you were instructed to get to a meeting and find a sponsor immediately. Mutual support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous is a great place to start; meetings are ideal locations for fostering healthy relationships and finding a person to walk you through the steps.

Over time one gets comfortable. Having an established routine and following the direction of others with more time makes you feel secure in your recovery. You also benefit from acquiring a deep bench of support comprised of peers who you can count on for assistance if you are struggling. Members of your deep bench also replace your old using buddies; they are the people who you call if you want to have a good time.

Is Your Lifestyle Congruent With Your Recovery?

Unfortunately, many people in early recovery forget how important it is to stick close to their support network both inside meetings and out. Some will feel the urge to re-establish contact with old friends because they feel like their program is strong. They may also start visiting places from their past because they think they can handle being around substances without being tempted to use.

Such behaviors are risky, and if one does not re-evaluate their changes in lifestyle, they can find themselves with a drink or drug in their hands. It’s not just risky people and places that can be the impetus for a relapse. Changing the meeting routine or spending less time with your support network can impact your ability to make progress. Feeling like you no longer need to check in with your sponsor regularly can also be a sign that recovery is losing its priority.

In treatment, you may have begun eating healthier and exercising helps nourish your mind and body. Perhaps you continued to eat right and exercise after discharge. If so, that is excellent, but it’s paramount to stay on track with healthy living. Deviating from your diet and workout routine is a change in lifestyle that could lead to issues down the road. Anything that you do that is not beneficial to your recovery can send you back into the cycle of addiction.

Periodically checking in with yourself to see if you are still leading a recovery-first lifestyle is crucial. Relapse is a process, not an event! Indeed, picking up a drink or drug again after a period of abstinence is an event, but the journey to relapse starts long before one decides to jeopardize all their hard work.

Is Your Recovery Still a Priority?

Have you started to drift away from your support network or stopped calling your sponsor? Are you still going to meetings or therapy sessions? Have you put your dietary and physical fitness needs on the back burner? Lastly, have you begun associating with people who are at odds with your recovery? If any of the above rings a bell, then we strongly advise you to re-evaluate your lifestyle changes and consider how paramount your recovery is in achieving your goals.

It’s much simpler to get back on track before a relapse than it is after. If recovery is still your number one priority, then please call your sponsor or a trusted peer and ask them for guidance. Such conversations may reveal to you that you’ve become complacent about your program and that perhaps you’ve forgotten the fragility of early recovery.

Please know that you have the ability to identify any program deviations and get back on track toward achieving your long-term goals. You have the power to “play the tape forward” and ask yourself, “What happens if I start using again?’ You will probably quickly realize that a return to active addiction is the last thing you want in life.

Southern California Addiction Treatment for Men

We invite you to contact PACE Recovery Center if you are an adult male who is currently in the grips of addiction. PACE also invites the family members with a male loved one who is battling with the symptoms of a behavioral or mental health disorder to reach out to us for help. We offer several programs that are specifically designed to cater to the unique needs of each client.

Our team is available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have and help you get the ball of addiction or mental illness recovery in motion. 800-526-1851

Addiction Recovery: Protecting Your Progress

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The annual Monitoring the Future survey indicates that teen alcohol, tobacco, and illicit hard drug use is on the decline. However, the decade's old survey found U.S. teens are vaping more marijuana and nicotine than a year ago. The latter is concerning, and these individuals may be putting themselves at risk of developing addiction down the road.

Some 14 percent of 12th graders reported vaping marijuana in the last month, which is almost double what was reported in the previous year. As we have pointed out in previous posts, marijuana use in one's teenage years can lead to cannabis use disorder in the future. The condition can severely impact the course of young people's lives.

While tobacco may be considered more benign regarding harming the mind, it can do severe damage to the body. Tobacco and nicotine use is associated with several forms of cancer and life-threatening disease. There is not enough research yet to determine the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. Experts have diametrically opposing opinions on the dangers of electronic nicotine devices.

The recent findings have prompted lawmakers to raise the age of buying nicotine products from 18 to 21 years old. The move has bipartisan support among congressional lawmakers, and the White House seems to be behind raising the legal age limit too, The Washington Post reports. Public health advocates support the move, but they are not sure that it goes far enough.

While raising the age to 21 is a positive step, in this case, the tobacco industry supports it to avoid other policies — like removing flavors from e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes that would have a much greater effect," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Nicotine Addiction and Your Recovery

Preventing teenage vaping and nicotine initiation is vital to keeping young people off the path toward addiction. Experts stress that nicotine and THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana, can wreak havoc on developing minds. Moreover, both substances are addictive, and teenage use exponentially increases one's chances of developing use disorders in the future.

We wrote last week about making resolutions for 2020; the subject was how to be a more positive person in recovery. We hope you had a chance to read the post as we believe that following some of our recommendations could enhance your recovery. Protecting your sobriety is of vital importance. Did you know that nicotine can increase the likelihood of relapse?

Research published last year found that people in recovery who use nicotine products are more likely to return to drug and alcohol use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that cigarette smoking might increase the likelihood of SUD relapse because:

  • Cigarette smoking often accompanies illicit drug use, and cigarettes may serve as a drug cue and relapse trigger.
  • Some studies have linked nicotine exposure to cravings for stimulants and opiates.

So, if you are working a program of addiction recovery and are still using nicotine products, then perhaps a realistic 2020 resolution can be smoking cessation. Working a program takes tremendous effort, and you can benefit from removing from your life anything that can jeopardize your hard-fought progress.

At PACE Recovery Center, we understand that giving up nicotine is challenging. However, there are many resources available to help you achieve the goal. Talk to your physician or call your state's tobacco hotline for help quitting. 2020 could be the year that you free yourself from nicotine addiction and strengthen your recovery.

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment

Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you are an adult male in the grips of alcohol or substance use disorder. We offer many programs that can help you get on the path to long-term recovery, and to lead a healthy and positive life. We provide several programs designed to meet the specific needs of each client.

At PACE, we also offer services for men who are battling mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. We invite you to phone us today to learn more about our evidence-based practices and begin the journey of lasting recovery. You will also be pleased to know that PACE works with and accepts most insurance carriers. 800-526-1851

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