Mim Drew, a 37-year-old actress and new mom who lives in Studio City, Calif., started smoking when she was about 15. She was 31 -- smoking about a pack and a half a day -- when she decided to stop smoking. Here's how she used writing as a tool to quit smoking, and how you can, too.
If you smoke, you've likely heard the pleas from friends and family to quit. You probably know that smoking makes heart disease, stroke, cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other killers more likely. You might even know that smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S. and worldwide.
But knowing about long-term risks may not be enough to nudge you to quit, especially if you're young. It can be hard to feel truly frightened by illnesses that may strike decades later. And quitting...
When I hit my 30s, I knew I had to stop smoking. But boy, did I love it! When I met my now-husband, he was doing a public service announcement for the American Lung Association, and I was feeling very guilty about being his smoking girlfriend as he was shooting these things. He said, "I think I want to spend the rest of my life with you, but I don't think I can do that with a smoker." So I tried the ALA's Freedom from Smoking Program online.
One of the best parts of this program was its online component. As I completed each step, I could go to an online forum and write about how I was doing and see how others were doing. What appealed to me was that at 2 p.m., when I was going nuts for a cigarette, I could go online and write about my feelings and someone else would respond. It was a very neat, anonymous way to put my feelings out there and admit how helpless I was in the face of this addiction, how much it had a grip on me. I quit a lot of times before, but it never stuck. This time it did.
Why Writing Can Help You Quit Smoking
Writing about what you're feeling when you stop smoking can be an important tool to help you quit. Many smoking cessation programs offer workbooks, diaries, and other tools to help you write about your experiences, whether in a journal, on a simple piece of paper, or online.
"In one of our booklets, we have a 'tobacco tracker," says Trina Ita, counseling supervisor for the American Cancer Society's Quitline. "People can use it to journal about when they had their last cigarette, what their mood was, and what they were doing. It can be very helpful in identifying your patterns related to smoking. You'll see, 'Oh, it was around the middle of the day, 20 minutes after lunch when I was on my way to a meeting, that's when I had my worst craving.' Then you can plan what to do during that time to get through it."