Recovering addicts are employing gratitude journaling prompts as a sobriety tool. There are several reasons to use a gratitude notebook in recovery. Some of these reasons include setting boundaries, defining purpose, and acknowledging the positives in life.
Implementing gratitude is healing for the mind, body, and soul. It improves mental health and builds self-awareness. Additionally, it boosts optimism and encourages healthy relationships.
My personal experience with gratitude journaling prompts has proven to be a healing practice. So there isn’t any scientific evidence to support gratitude journaling being more effective in the morning or the night.
However, when I implement gratitude at the start of my day, it leaves a positive impact. Also, I do my daily prayer journaling in the evening. So I jumped on the morning journaling bandwagon with gratitude.
How does practicing gratitude change your brain?
Practicing gratitude can boost your serotonin. Additionally, it can activate the brain stem, causing it to produce more dopamine, which is the chemical that makes us feel good.
How often should you write in a gratitude journal?
In an interview between Jason March and Robert Emmons (an expert on the science of gratitude), I observed that people should write in their gratitude journal once or twice per week rather than journal daily gratitude.
They discuss a study that determined that people who practiced gratitude journaling three or more times per week reported being less happy than those who wrote once or twice per week. If you register three-to-five things every day, it can become habitual, and you can lose the sincerity and focus of practicing gratitude.
Additionally, try to not only focus on the positive things in your gratitude journal; it’s helpful to reflect on how life would be without the things and people who bless you.
Do gratitude journals really work?
Absolutely, but only if the act of gratitude is sincere. So if you’re over journaling or not committed to your once-a-week entry, don’t expect miraculous results.
We need to do the work to experience healing. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic pill for instant gratification. Expressing gratitude is a process, and it is mentally healing when applied.
Gratitude writing from a journal prompt is a great way to open yourself up to questions you might not otherwise ask.
What is the difference between a gratitude journal and a gratitude list?
There are several gratitude journaling styles. My favorite style is the guided gratitude journal prompts. Having prompting journal ideas in front of me helps me stay focused on completing them.
However, some people practice daily gratitude by making lists. For example, you choose ten things you’re thankful for each day with a gratitude list. Alternatively, many people write down a quick three to five things they feel grateful for each day.
However, because of the science, I choose gratitude journaling. But, I do have my “List 10” hanging on my wall. That list includes 10 things I’m constantly focusing my gratitude energy on my family, children, food, electricity, and essentials.
There is nothing wrong with having that near your vision board. If you believe in energy and the law of attraction, this additional method is for you.
What are good gratitude questions?
Good questions to reflect on are the positives in your life, your blessings, and what you’re most thankful for today. What are you grateful for now and looking forward to in your recovery? Furthermore, answering questions about what your life would look like without those gifts defines your “Big Why.”
Your “Big Why” is your ultimate purpose. So you must uncover it, understand it, and keep it in front of you for initial strength in your sober walk.
Gratitude Journaling Prompts for Recovering Addicts
So I created gratitude journaling prompts to guide and experience introspection and sober healing. This process helps people reflect on what is most important to them.
Also, to genuinely understand the consequences of relapse. But, again, these are vital perimeters to define.
If you step outside the boundaries you’ve established, you know what’s on the other side.
You’re stronger than that. Or you wouldn’t be here reading this post. You can write using my gratitude journaling prompts in any order. However, this is the order I prefer.
Gratitude Prompt #1-What is My Biggest Accomplishment Since Choosing Sobriety?
This writing prompt is a beautiful question to answer. Sometimes we get caught up in acknowledging our sobriety as our greatest accomplishment. Well, yeah, we know that, but what other achievements have you conquered in your recovery?
If you have more than one triumph, practice gratitude writing for both. Now is not the time to be modest. Instead, build your confidence and boost your self-esteem.
Gratitude Journal Prompt #2 -Who Am I Grateful for in My Recovery? Who is My Biggest Allies in Recovery?
Having a sober support system is essential for strengthening your recovery. Do you have someone that provides you great support? A family member or sober best friend? If you’re in a 12-Step program, do you have a sponsor?
Hopefully, more than one person is supporting you. Identify who these people are and why you’re grateful for their alliance. Expressing gratitude for loved ones reaffirms part of the “why” in your sober story.
Gratitude Prompt #3 – What are My Biggest Challenges, and What is My Action Plan to Overcome Them?
Identifying your problem areas will help you establish a course of action when confronted with these challenges. What are these actions, and who are the people you depend on during challenging times?
Even if you have removed old contacts and no longer frequent the areas you were using, temptations are inevitable. For example, as a former heroin addict, I never imagined running into heroin again. However, during the first five years of my sobriety, freak incidents occurred around my sober anniversary.
One time I walked into the bathroom at work, someone had smoked heroin in it, and I tasted it in the back of my throat. Instantly, it sent me back to a dark place and triggered a panic attack. However, I had my action plan and reached out to my support.
Another time, a wind storm blew open the shed door, and when I went to close it, there was a needle. It looked brand new, and it was staring me in the face. That happened two days before my first sobriety anniversary.
So don’t dismiss this as unnecessary. It’s vital. One way or another, the universe will test you. So be prepared ahead of time with an action and relapse prevention plan.
Gratitude Journal Prompt #4 – What are 3 Ways I Can be of Service to Others?
Did you know that performing random acts of kindness is good for your mental health? It’s true. Research has shown that it reduces stress and improves mental wellness.
Furthermore, being of service to others benefits your physical health. For example, it can lower blood pressure which improves overall heart health. Choose three ways to be of service and make someone feel special today by doing something nice for no reason.
Gratitude Prompt #5 – What are 3 Ways I Can be of Service to Myself?
Being of service to yourself is often the most neglected part of recovery. Why is it easier to do nice things for others but not care for ourselves? It’s not, so stop it! Instead, ask yourself what three acts of self-care you’re committed to performing.
Gratitude Journal Prompt #6 – What Would Happen if I Stopped Working on My Recovery?
What does working on your recovery mean to you? Have you created your relapse prevention plan? Do you attend meetings, or are you sharing your story to help others? First, determine what working on your sobriety means to you, and then assess what would happen if you stopped.
Gratitude Prompt #7 – How am I Going to Express My Gratitude to Our Creator?
Do you have a relationship with God or a higher power? I do. So part of my recovery is expressing to God what I’m feeling grateful for in prayer. Also, writing from my gratitude journaling prompts once a week. I express gratitude to the Lord by sharing my testimony and prayer journaling.
Giving thanks to the creator is an essential part of my day, and I notice my mood changes when I’m not faithfully writing in my gratitude journal. So I highly endorse this method.
Gratitude Journal Prompt #8 – What Would My Life Look Like if I Compromised My Sobriety?
Be specific with the details of how relapsing will affect you. For example, don’t simply write, “My life would fall apart.” Instead, try, “My professional career would be over, and I’d lose my kids permanently.”
Make a list of all the things and people affected if you were to relapse. This journal prompt is a helpful tool to keep in your recovery toolbox.
Gratitude Prompt #9 – If I Relapsed, Who Would I Hurt? Who Would I Lose Completely?
Did you lie, cheat, and steal? Unfortunately, I did, and I hurt my family and friends by these actions. So relapsing would devastate some of my relationships. My daughter might not forgive me as quickly as a teenager versus a toddler without a grownup understanding.
Whom would you be letting down? Again, be specific with what hurting them would look like, again. This writing prompt is essential for your gratitude journal.
Gratitude Journal Prompt #10 – Name 5 Things That Make Me Proud of Myself?
Are you proud of yourself? I mean, really? Have you acknowledged what a complete badass you are? The fact that you’re sober or seeking sobriety is an incredible victory. Getting clean and sober is the hardest thing I’ve achieved, and I acknowledge my badassery.
I hope you do, too, because you are a total badass, and I’m proud of you. You have a new friend in recovery. So what are five things that you’re proud of about yourself?
Using gratitude journaling prompts is an effective tool in recovery. There is scientific evidence that gratitude practices change the brain. More significant amounts of dopamine production feed your pleasure center and make you become a naturally happier human being.
In addition, discovering what you’re grateful for is reflective and healing. Using guided gratitude journaling prompts may teach you something you otherwise wouldn’t have acknowledged about yourself. Also, answering relapse questions increases your chance of success in recovery. Expressing gratitude creates positive changes in mindset.
Finally, please remember to bless others but also to care for yourself. Do you have a journaling prompt to add to my gratitude journal writing? Please add it in the comments below.
Keep gratitude in your heart—love, light, and peace.
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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is studying to become a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor and Recovery Coach. She studied Biblical Studies and Early Childhood Education in College and has been in opioid recovery since 09-27-2013.