Do you believe you can write your way to better health? Scientists say that writing in a journal confers numerous, documented health benefits-one of which can be quitting smoking.

According to the American Cancer Society, only four to seven percent of people who try to quit smoking on any given attempt are successful without medications or some form of help. Smoking is a habit you must change, and the longer you've been a smoker, the more ingrained the habit.

Why should I write a journal?

Here are just a few of the many reasons why people improve their health by writing in a journal. It helps them:

  • Work through grief or deal with traumatic situations
  • Change habits, such as overeating and smoking
  • Reduce stress and depression and improve mood by providing an outlet for expressing feelings, especially anger and frustration
  • Strengthen their immune system
  • Facilitate problem solving by clarifying thoughts and reconciling emotional conflicts

How can writing in a journal help me quit smoking?

Identify triggers. Are there certain times of the day, locations or situations that prompt you to light up? You may not even be aware of the connection. Record what you're doing when the urge to smoke strikes so you can identify triggers and learn to avoid, or replace, them with other, healthier behaviors.

Clarify why you want to quit. Detail in writing why you want to quit smoking. It will strengthen your resolve and remind you when you're struggling with withdrawal symptoms.

Track your progress. Seeing how you've improved is motivating and encouraging.

Celebrate your successes. It's a challenge to quit smoking. Reward yourself for your accomplishments-large and small.

Identify rationalizations that can ambush your good intentions. Will that cigarette really make your mother-in-law's visit less stressful?

Getting started

Decide what type of journal is best for you. Some people prefer a simple pen and notebook. Others find online journals easier. With an online journal, you can choose to share your journal with others smokers who are also trying to quit. The important thing is that you find a journal style that works and stick with it.

What not to do.

Don't worry about spelling, grammar or even writing complete sentences. The point of a journal is not to produce a literary tour de force, but to keep a record of events and feelings that will help you to quit smoking.