We seem to have a knack for defaulting to negative thought patterns. Like Eeyore, the gloomy donkey from Winnie the Pooh, it can be easier to walk around saying “Woe is me” when we encounter rough patches in life.
The early stages of substance use recovery are also riddled with rough patches, which can keep us stuck in a negative mindset. Instead, it’s better for our mental and physical well-being to let go of those thought patterns by cultivating a positive attitude. One way to do that is by creating a gratitude journal.
The practice of jotting down things you feel grateful for has a self-fulfilling effect. The more you remind yourself of the blessings in your daily life, the more you will seek them out. This fosters positivity over time, which can make recovery a bit easier. There are scientific studies that, demonstrate how our attitudes have a powerful effect on our mood, which can positively influence our recovery journey.
What is a gratitude journal?
Just like any other form of journaling, a gratitude journal simply focuses on acknowledging the things you are appreciative of. By making gratitude journaling a regular habit, it’ll be easier to cultivate a more positive mindset.
It only takes a few minutes out of your day to sit down and write about recent events in your day or week that brought you joy. Even a simple list of three or four things you feel grateful for can help you stay focused on the good, instead of fixating on the not-so-good. An example of a simple gratitude journal might look like this:
What a pretty, crisp fall day it was! Today I am grateful for:
- Seeing my friend’s newborn baby for the first time
- My yoga class this morning
- Getting a surprise phone call from my cousin
- Going for a run in the hills
Making a habit of recounting happy events from your day may take some time — remember that each time you write down the things that made you feel good, you’re nurturing a positive attitude, a vital asset for your recovery journey.
Benefits of a gratitude journal
Documenting the things that bring you joy can net some surprising benefits, here’s just a few of them:
- Improves Mental Health: By noting things youre grateful for, you acquire a more optimistic outlook about the future. This can help us feel more hopeful and positive about your life, resulting in an overall improvement of your physical and mental well-being.
- Improves Physical Health: It can come as a surprise to learn that practicing gratitude can also have a positive impact on your health. Some of the effects include improved heart health, decreased blood pressure, and better-controlled blood sugar levels.
- Reduces Stress: Sitting quietly and reflecting on the day or week, while thinking about the positive moments that occurred can be very relaxing. Noticing the things that are going well in your life can give you a more balanced outlook on your current situation.
- Improves Relationships: Many of the things you might feel grateful for involve your loved ones. Just noting how a friend or family member brightened your day can create a deeper sense of appreciation and connection with them.
- Increases Spiritual Awareness: When you cultivate thankfulness as a part of your daily routine, you can also grow closer to your Higher Power as the source of these positive events and blessings.
The simple act of recognizing the pleasant aspects of your life can be a powerful tool in substance use recovery. Keep a gratitude journal and practicing the act of being thankful and appreciative along your recovery journey — bountiful benefits will follow.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, and provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle – “everything for recovery” – reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.