A journal is a powerful tool in eating disorder recovery. Writing in a diary or journal can help you sort through your thoughts and process some of the tangled emotions and ideas that run through your head when in the midst of distress, sadness or a difficult situation. It can be a useful way of getting your emotions out and see them more clearly. Using journal prompts can be a helpful method in the process.
Sometimes the process can be painful, bringing up difficult feelings and demons. But it also provides a space to confront the troubles. It might be possible to say things on the page you can’t say out loud. You can begin the work of challenging some of the negative thoughts which lead to destructive behaviors. An eating disorder wants to crush your spirit and identity. Don’t let it.
Getting in touch with yourself and your feelings is essential to recovery, and the journal is a safe space in which to do that.
Here are five journal prompts to help you get started:
1. Write a letter to yourself as a child
Think of the hopefulness and potential that you had when you were younger. You still have it; you let it grow. Consider your tone – is it caring and compassionate? You would never not feed a child if they were hungry, and wouldn’t say nasty things if they made a mistake whilst learning. When they needed to rest they would sleep, and when they wanted to play, they would laugh and have fun. That child is still within you, and you can turn this compassion to yourself now.
2. Write about difficult relationships in your life
Difficult relationships offer great material to reflect on. Often times what we find hard or troublesome in others illuminates something about ourselves. For example, one professional I knew was very matter-of-fact and abrupt in his approach. Thinking about it, I can see that he was disciplined and strict. This jarred a lot with my more abstract and curious approach to things.
Write down three people that you have difficult relationships with at the moment. Think about how they act, the qualities they have, and how their different style or outlook could be helpful to consider. Do this without judgement or apologies.
You can’t change other people, but you can understand them and yourself better.
3. Write about being recovered
If someone could wave a magic wand and make you recovered right now, how would you know? Write about a day without an eating disorder. What you might do, say, feel and think. How would your routine be different? What would your relationships be like? And what would you think in the morning, and do in the evening? Can you try to incorporate one aspect into your activity this week?
4. Life is a learning curve
Write down ten things you have learned, from ‘I like the feeling of sun on my shoulders’ to ‘there are 430 escalators on the London Underground network.’ Are there any you are proud of? Any that can help you? Or just any that make you smile.
5. The present moment
Write about what you see, hear and smell right at this moment. How do these things make you feel? Really be present in this moment. Hear the sounds around you. Listen closely. Breathe in deeply. Smell the season. Enjoy the sensations on your skin. Feel the ground beneath your feet, the clothes on your body. Look at an object. Look at a smaller piece of it. Focus in even more. How many colors can you see? How many shades can you see? Be here now.