Eating disorders are serious mental health disorders that can have devastating physical and emotional consequences. Recovering from an eating disorder is a challenging journey, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Keeping a recovery journal can be an effective tool to help you stay on track and track your progress.
Why Journaling Helps Anyone
Journaling is one of the most therapeutic and effective tools one can use to manage mental illness. The mind is often swirling with emotions, thoughts, doubts, and frustrations. This can be very overwhelming, especially when those thoughts are negative.
Writing your thoughts down in a journal can release feelings and emotions. It is a great way to alleviate anxiety and stress, and studies show that journaling can improve well-being in adults.
Along with providing emotional release, journaling can help you organize your thoughts and process your emotions.
How Journaling Can Support Your Recovery Journey
In addition to getting some relief from emotional turmoil, journaling allows you to make connections you didn’t see before. It allows you to identify fears, triggers, and patterns. You can observe things about yourself and your habits that you otherwise couldn’t see if you didn’t write them down.
Journaling can help you understand your relationship with your body and is also a great way to track your progress during treatment and recovery. It allows you to identify things that make you feel good or have helped you in your recovery, and things that have set you back.
You can share your journal entries with your therapist if you are comfortable doing so. A therapist can also provide you with additional ways to explore your feelings through journaling.
6 Steps to Start Your Journaling Journey
Journaling is a personal experience, and there is not one right way to do it, but there are some helpful guidelines.
Be consistent in writing journal entries. Journaling every day is a great practice, but if daily entries are too difficult to maintain, try to journal 3-5 times a week.
Write for as long as you feel like it. It doesn’t have to be an hour-long process—sometimes five minutes will do.
Try to journal at a time of day that fits into your schedule. You want it to be a part of your day, not interfere with it.
Be honest with yourself. You are getting to know yourself better through the journaling process and you deserve honesty.
Don’t criticize yourself or your writing. This is your personal space to say whatever you want, however you want.
Use journal prompts. Prompts are useful if you feel blocked and don’t know what to write.
Here are a few to get you started:
- Write a goodbye letter to your eating disorder. Your eating disorder might have gotten you through some hard times, and it’s okay to acknowledge what you liked about it but be honest about what it may have taken away from you too.
- Write a list of pros and cons ofyour eating disorder. Take a really good look at those cons and how they have affected your life.
- Write about a relapse. Include what happened leading up to the relapse and try to see if there were any triggers to be aware of in case it happens again.
- If you woke up today without an eating disorder, what would the day look like? Write about what you would do, what your meals would be like, and how you would interact with people.
- Write down the things your eating disorder voice tells you and counter each one with the truth about yourself and your body.
What To Do If You Don’t Like Writing
Writing is not for everyone, but you don’t have to be a novelist to keep a journal.
The important thing to remember is that journaling is therapeutic, and you can get something positive out of putting your thoughts down on paper. Think of it as a way to dump your thoughts and emotions and free up some mental space. Everyone needs a bit of mental clarity, and you can use this simple tool to give yourself that gift.
There’s also more than one way to journal, and you might like to explore different journaling techniques. Try out different styles to see which one suits you best. The following are just a few of many.
- Gratitude journaling- writing down things you are grateful for.
- Intuition journaling- write down a question you want to be answered and answer with your intuition, or in other words, what does your gut feeling say?
- Stream of consciousness journaling- start writing down whatever thoughts come to your mind, and don’t stop. Just let the thoughts flow.
- Visual journaling- use visual design to express your emotions. You can draw, paint, or use any artistic medium that suits you.
If you really can’t bring yourself to pick up a pen and paper or tap away at the keyboard, try dictation. You can use voice notes on computer or phone apps that will type your words into a document.
Journaling is one of many effective therapies used for managing eating disorders. The mental health professionals at Toledo Center can provide you with the therapies you need if you or your loved one is struggling with an eating disorder. Connect with us at 562-434-6007 or complete our contact form to start your journey toward recovery today.
Kate Delaney Chen, BSN, RN-BC is a healthcare writer and registered nurse with over 17 years of bedside experience. She specializes in Psychiatric Nursing and Nephrology and currently works at a nationally recognized inpatient Eating Disorders Program.