Keeping a journal is often recommended as a powerful tool to help addiction patients on their road to recovery. Journals not only help patients to reflect on, and express their feelings, but to also examine ways to avoid relapse. However, many patients often don’t follow through keeping a daily journal because it can be a tedious practice.

But what if it took only two minutes a day?

Cutting through the clutter and streamlining your thoughts for this process is far easier than you might think. An added bonus? This method offers personal accountability for a patient to understand the cycle of addiction and recognize their build up and how it leads to triggers.

Journaling does not have to be a synopsis of the entire day, but rather a reflection of the conflicts that impacted the person during the day. One of the most effective ways to journal is when a person is able to identify and address the key issue(s) bothering them that day before going to bed. This helps a person in recovery be on top of the stressors they face on a daily basis.

The most efficient way of journaling daily by filling in just four columns with one sentence each. Start with the below:

  1. What Bothers Me? Identify the issue that is bothering you and write it down in one brief sentence, or less.
  • How Are You Feeling? Examine your feelings associated with this problem—are you angry, sad, happy, disappointed, guilty or resentful? Write this down in one sentence or less.
  • What Action Did You Take? Did you take any action to address the problem? If so, write it down in one sentence or less. If not, also record this.
  • What Action(s) Do You Plan To Take? If you didn’t already take action, what actions do you plan on taking? Jot this action plan down in one sentence or less.

When a person has a lot of issues impacting them, it is easier to address these problems and effectively deal with stress through learned interventions or by calling their therapist or sponsor for help. Interventions could include positive self-talk, applying learned Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, (CBT) techniques, or using mindfulness techniques. However, not all issues can be effectively addressed by ones’ self.

With this being said, we always recommends that the person have their therapists’ or sponsor’s number handy to make the call when the stressors are too overwhelming to handle alone.