Quitting smoking is quite a challenge, and there’s not a one-size-fits-all plan to help you do it. To stop, you must prepare yourself on an emotional and mental level, and be ready to do it for yourself.
You’re the one who will do the heavy lifting, but in this article, we will help you set up a plan to get started.
Why It’s Challenging
Nowadays, we all know the health risks of smoking – they even put it on the box! However, that doesn’t make it any easier to kick the habit.
It’s a physical addiction, as well as a psychological habit. Once you quit, your body will be craving that regular fix of nicotine and your brain will yearn for the relaxing effects it has. Quitting means you find different, healthier ways to make yourself feel good.
Besides, most people have smoking ingrained in their daily rituals – you may even do it automatically. Cigarettes are a friend, a way to cope with boredom, and connect with friends.
For that reason, quitting requires you to address both the addiction and the routines you built around the habit.
Make a Plan
After becoming certain in your decision, one of the best ways to help yourself is by making a plan. It starts with identifying cravings. Then you get rid of them or replace them with healthier alternatives.
A Craving Journal
Take a week before you quit to follow your patterns. Take note of each time you crave a cigarette, as well as each one smoked.
Most of us smoke to manage stress, loneliness, anxiety, and boredom. For that reason, if you notice a pattern before you start your quitting journey, think of alternate ways of handling complicated feelings.
Once you figured out when and why you smoke, it’s time you start avoiding those situations. Here are some of the most common triggers for smokers:
- Drinking – If this is you, try switching to virgin cocktails or drink in no-smoking areas, at least for a while.
- Fellow smokers – The best thing to do is to tell your friends and family that you decided to quit. Ask them to avoid lighting up in front of you so you wouldn’t feel the need to do so as well.
- Mealtimes – A cigarette on a full belly feels good, and you may not want to give that up. Replace that moment with a rewarding dessert or some gum. Take a walk – without the pack in your pocket!
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Going cold turkey works for some, but most relapse after a while. Thus, nicotine replacement therapy is widely prevalent among former smokers. It reduces withdrawal symptoms with small, controlled amounts of nicotine.
There are many types of NRT, and you should try several to find the most satisfying one. Also, vaping is a viable alternative, so visit an E-Cigarette Empire and take a look at what they have to offer.
After a while, you’ll start reducing your alternative as well, but make sure you enjoy it while it lasts so you wouldn’t go back to cigarettes.
As we mentioned earlier, smoking is both a physical and a mental habit – withdrawal symptoms will also hit on both fronts.
You may feel a craving, become irritable, or get headaches. These are only temporary and should go away after two weeks, at least the major ones. Remind yourself of your reasons for quitting. These symptoms show that your body is healing and adapting.
When it comes to mental desire to smoke, try enjoying activities without a cigarette in your hand. The longing won’t disappear, but you will show yourself you can do without it.
Avoiding your triggers will reduce your urge, but you can’t change your entire lifestyle due to it. So, cravings will hit. Luckily, they only last for 10 minutes, so waiting it out is the best way to go around it. Also, it is useful to prepare coping strategies in advance.
Once you feel the craving hitting you, turn to something else. Turn on the TV or call a friend, but engage yourself in an activity. Even better, you could do the dishes or take a shower – you can’t light up with wet hands!
Remind yourself of your reasons for quitting. You will look better, feel better, save money, and increase your self-confidence, having beaten such a bad habit.
Especially if you find yourself in a triggering situation, get away from it. A change of scenery helps to get things out of your head and create distractions.
Each avoided craving is a small victory, and it should be reinforced. Besides, by creating other types of rewards, you’re rewiring your brain to stop seeing cigarettes as the ultimate pleasure.
The Bottom Line
We must end with the hard truth – you will probably relapse. Most of the people who quit go back and then start all over again, and this is what you should do. If you fail, try to determine the reasons and ways to avoid it the next time.