First, congratulate yourself. Just reading this article is a big step toward becoming tobacco-free.
We all know the health risks of smoking, but that doesn’t make it any easier to kick the habit. Whether you’re an occasional smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be really tough.
Smoking tobacco is both a physical addiction and a psychological habit. The nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary and addictive high. Eliminating that regular fix of nicotine causes your body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because of nicotine’s “feel good” effect on the brain, you may turn to cigarettes as a quick and reliable way to boost your outlook, relieve stress, and unwind. Smoking can also be a way of coping with depression, anxiety, or even boredom. Quitting means finding different, healthier ways to cope with those feelings.
Smoking is also ingrained as a daily ritual. It may be an automatic response for you to smoke a cigarette with your morning coffee, while taking a break at work or school, or on your commute home at the end of a hectic day. Or maybe your friends, family, or colleagues smoke, and it’s become part of the way you relate with them.
If you have made the decision to quit smoking, well done. Now comes the hard part: finding the method that suits your personality and lifestyle.
Here are 10 ways that may help you quit and never light-up again.
1. Understand your reasons for quitting
The reasons for quitting smoking are quite obvious. Your health, finances and personal happiness are at stake. However, making the reasons clear and undisputable is an important first step.
Make a list of all the reasons you want to be smoke-free and keep the list in a place where you can see it often. Once it’s written, it holds more weight.
When you feel the urge to smoke, refer to the list to remind yourself why you want to quit.
2. Set a quit date.
When you’re choosing a date to quit, earlier is always better than later. Many have found success in choosing a day to quit smoking within two weeks. This gives you enough time to prepare.
Avoid choosing days where you know you will be busy or stressed, or where temptations are high (e.g. a party with friends or days where you may smoke at work).
Circle your quit day on a calendar or write it out somewhere where you will see it every day. This will remind you of your decision to become smoke-free and give you time to prepare to quit.
3. BUILD A QUIT PLAN
You should create a quit plan made up of goals you want to achieve within a certain timeframe. A quit plan will help you identify and track your milestones, discover your smoking triggers and manage your cravings.
Everyone is different, so you should explore different strategies and methods for your quit plan as it can keep you focused, empowered, and motivated to quit.
4. Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.
Get as much support as you can from family, friends and work colleagues.
Let them know you are planning to quit smoking, and ask smokers not to smoke around you or offer you cigarettes.
Quitting with a friend can also be an excellent idea — you can share your feelings and encourage each other.
5. Remove reminders of smoking
Throw away all of your cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, and matches. Wash your clothes and freshen up anything that smells like smoke. Shampoo your car, clean your drapes and carpet, and steam your furniture.
6. Anticipate and manage triggers and withdrawals
Most people who begin smoking again do so within the first three months. You can help yourself make it through by preparing ahead for common challenges, such as nicotine withdrawal and cigarette cravings.
- Delay: remember that the worst cravings last for only a few minutes and will become even less frequent the longer you have quit.
- Deep breathe: this should help you relax and focus your mind on something else.
- Drink water: it is a good idea to drink plenty of fluids to help flush the nicotine and other toxins out of your system.
- Do something else: you could go for a walk, to the movies or visit a supportive friend. You could hold something else, such as a pen or beads, to replace the need to hold a cigarette, or chew some gum or eat or drink a healthy snack to have something other than a cigarette in your mouth.
7. Set up rewards for quit milestones
The process of quitting smoking may take some time. It’s important to acknowledge your progress. Celebrate individual milestones such as the 24-hour smoke-free mark, 1-week mark, 1-month mark and so on.
Find healthy ways to treat yourself such as with a wholesome dinner, a day at the movies, a hiking trip out in natural surroundings or any other smoke-free activity. Plan your milestones ahead of time and set up a healthy smoke-free reward for each one.
8. Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.
Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with withdrawal symptoms.
The options include:
- Prescription nicotine in a nasal spray or inhaler
- Nicotine patches, gum and lozenges
- Prescription non-nicotine medications such as Varenicline (Champix)
To successfully stop smoking, you’ll need to address both the addiction, the habits and routines that go along with it. With the right support and quit plan, any smoker can kick the addiction.
If you need help quitting, visit a doctor that can build a smoking cessation programme for you.