I used journaling all throughout my recovery and it was one of the best ways to support myself through it.
Daily journaling can help you with:
- Staying motivated
- Ways to support yourself and hold yourself accountable
- To rewire the brain from ED thoughts and habits
- Emotional regulation
- To reduce stress and anxiety
- …and much more!
And in today’s video, I will give you 5 journaling prompts you can use to stay motivated on your recovery path.
Why you should journal?
If you are in eating disorder recovery you probably know it feels like one of the hardest things you have ever done. Recovery brings up a lot of fears, challenges, and triggers…so it’s very easy to lose motivation and want to give up.
But journaling can help you re-focus on your goals and values, remember WHY did you start this process in the first place, and why it’s important to keep going. Journaling can help you stay on track, support yourself when times get hard, and keep going on your recovery path. And journaling can also be used as a tool to rewire your brain.
Journaling can help with emotional regulation and it can improve your mood. And some research even shows that journaling is good for your health, as it can decrease stress and anxiety and even improve your immune system.
Journal prompt #1: What are your reasons to recover?
This is maybe one of the most common first journaling prompts I would recommend to think and write about in recovery.
When things get really hard it’s very easy to only see the struggle and pain you must face in recovery. Those are the moments you have to re-connect to your reasons of WHY you wanted to start this recovery process in the first place.
Take your journal and write down your reasons to recover. Why it’s important to you? Why it’s a MUST for you?
Some of my reasons to recover were:
- To have food freedom and a healthy relationship to food
- To have normal hunger cues
- To have more time and space to focus on living my life
- To travel and enjoy eating the local food
- To eat out with friends and try freely whatever food I want
- ….now write your own list!
Journal prompt #2: What was the pain you experienced with ED?
Another great journal prompt is to write down what was the pain you experienced with your eating disorder. This can be very beneficial for the days you want to give up on recovery and feel like going back to ED will solve everything.
Humans are highly motivated by pain, so this is something you can use for your advantage. Remind yourself of all the things that you hated about your eating disorder and all the struggles it caused and all the negative effects it had on your life, your health and wellbeing.
Here are some pains of my eating disorder:
- Binge eating and feeling out of control with foods
- Constant food obsession
- High levels of stress and anxiety
- Feeling trapped and alone
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- All parts of my life were affected (my health, my relationships, my work, dreams, goals…)
- …now write your own list!
When things get hard and you feel like giving up you can read your list and remind yourself that going back is not an option because you will just go back to that same old misery. I think I much rather struggle in recovery than keep struggling with my eating disorder. Because eating disorder has no positive ending and it’s life long, but with recovery, you get a chance at a positive ending, plus recovery is temporary.
Journal prompt #3: What went well today/what are you proud of today?
The next journal prompt is to write down what went well today or what are you the most proud of today?
These things don’t have to be big things, they can be absolutely anything – maybe you woke up and made your bed today, or maybe you challenged a fear food or said yes to meeting a friend. Write down anything you can think of that went well.
Here are some of the things I would write down in recovery:
- I made a nice breakfast and allowed myself to enjoy it without guilt
- I read some pages of an inspiring book
- I wrote in my journal
- I didn’t criticize myself when I felt very full after a meal, I was compassionate
- I called my friend and we had a nice chat
- I organized my closet and got rid of some old clothes
- ….now write what went well for you today or what are you proud of?
Eating disorder recovery can be very hard and our days are full of challenges but instead of only focusing on what’s bad and what’s hard you can focus on things that went well. It’s a great mindset shift that will make a big difference in how you feel and how you approach recovery.
Journal prompt #4: What positive signs of recovery have you seen so far?
Create an open list where you collect all the positive signs of recovery you have seen or experienced so far.
This is something I did in my recovery in order to motivate myself and keep me going. Sometimes it’s hard to see progress if you are right in the middle of it. But if we would look back and see how far we have come I’m sure many of you could see some positive signs of progress you have made.
And keep it as an open list because maybe at first you can add just a few things but as time goes by you can add more and more signs of progress you have made.
Here are some of the first positive signs of recovery I saw:
- Less guilt and anxiety with foods
- I’m noticing fewer food thoughts between meals, sometimes I can go a few hours of not thinking about food!
- I no longer crave to eat a whole cake, my cravings are less intense
- I can focus better on my work or if I’m reading something
- I sleep better and have warmer hands and feet
- I can go out and eat in restaurants, I have more food freedom
- …now write your own list!
Journal prompt #5: What are you grateful for?
And the last journal prompt that is very helpful is to write down what you are grateful for. This is such an important thing to write about because instead of dwelling on all the things that are bad you can give more attention and focus to what is good in your life. Because whatever you focus on will grow.
If you always focus on whats bad you will get even more of that. But if you focus on what is good and what you are grateful for then this is what you will start to experience more in your life. It rewires your brain and creates those new positive neural connections. Don’t underestimate what gratutude can do for your recovery.
And one of the things people often struggle with when it comes to writing their gratitude list is that they think too broad. They think something like I’m grateful for my dog, my kids, my job, my house, and so forth. Those are definitely something you can be grateful for and write down on your list but what they may see with this approach is that then their gratitude list seems to be quite the same every day and it gets a bit repetitive and may lose its meaning.
But what you can do is to ask yourself more specifically, for example, what am I grateful for in this specific moment? Or if you write about being grateful for your dog, then what specifically makes you grateful about them?
- At this moment I’m grateful for my blog so I can write these posts and share my throughts with you guys.
- I’m also grateful that I can work from home and do things on my own schedule.
- And I’m grateful for my cat Mona because she brings so much happiness to my life
- …now write your own list!
So as you can see gratitude can be found in anything. But I feel it will be even more meaningful if you make it more specific.
If you want to learn more about recovery and how to do it step by step then please read my book “BrainwashED”
You can check out my recovery online courses HERE.
Or you can book a one-off coaching call with me HERE.