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.
Many smokers think that lighting up helps them relax. They’re fooling themselves, experts say.
“Nicotine withdrawal makes people feel jittery and anxious, which smokers often confuse with feeling stressed,” says Steven Schroeder, MD, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco. “Lighting up makes them feel better, not because that cigarette eases stress but because it’s delivering the next dose of nicotine.”
Breaking free of nicotine addiction...
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