How To Quit Smoking
More than 75% of smokers report that they would like to quit smoking. If you fall into that category, you may also feel as though you do not have the tools necessary to successfully abstain long-term, and the side effects of quitting nicotine may even leave you feeling too afraid to try. Did you know that tobacco dependence has been designated as a chronic disease by the Department of Health and Human Services? Because of the seriousness of the addiction and the high rate of relapse after quitting, smoking is considered to be just as addictive as other drug dependencies, but there are very few treatment programs necessary to help smokers successfully quit long term. A study conducted recently discovered that if smokers are given a similar level of support that drug users are given, there is a much higher rate of success in quitting. Following the steps below can help you on your road to being cigarette free for good.
Set Small Goals
Quitting nicotine cold-turkey may seem like the easiest way to go, but studies report that the cold-turkey method has a lower rate of success. To effectively give up cigarettes for good, it is vital to set small, sustainable goals. This can also reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, and can make quitting seem a lot easier and more manageable. So, for example: If you smoke 5 times per day, try reducing it to 3 times per day for two weeks, then once per day for two weeks, then down to once every other day, and so on until you have stopped completely. You know yourself best, so decide what you think will work for you and stick to it. Keep in mind, when you are establishing new habits, there will be setbacks and failures. Accept the bad days for what they are and use them to learn your triggers, and how to avoid them. Start each day brand new, knowing that you have a fresh start, and can continue working towards your goal.
Establish New Habits
Smoking is just a habitual way to deal with stress, anxiety, and a way to fill the time. There are plenty of other ways to manage your anxiety and fill your time. The hardest part about quitting for many is simply breaking the habit. It feels strange to not do what we’ve done for years at certain times of every single day. And managing anxiety without nicotine can feel nearly impossible. You may find that you just have no idea what to do with yourself. Establishing new, healthy habits is the best way to train your body to stop craving nicotine. Next time you get a craving, consider doing one of the following instead:
- Take a walk– Getting outside and distracting yourself can help you wait out your craving without getting too anxious or moody. Bonus points if you bring your dog. Spending time with your furry friend can help relieve stress, and the exercise will be good for your dog, too!
- Write it down– Write about how your body is craving nicotine, how it makes you feel and list the reasons why you’re quitting until the feeling passes
- Meditate– Meditating will take some practice, but if you can train you mind and body to completely relax each time you have a craving, they will eventually begin to pass quickly and with ease.
- Plan a vacation– Think about all the money you’ll save by not smoking! Every time a craving hits, start thinking about where you’ll go next year when you’ve saved several thousand dollars by kicking this habit!
The study conducted by the National Cancer Institute shows that the more support a smoker has when trying to quit, the more likely they are to be successful. Talk to your physician when you are ready to quit. They can give you resources and information that can make quitting easier on you. Regularly checking in with a trusted counselor is also a good way to stay on track. Your counselor can help you identify triggers that cause you stress and make you want to smoke and help you find ways to work through those stressful triggers in a more healthy way. Additionally, if you have a friend who has quit smoking, call on them! They will absolutely support you in your endeavor, and completely understand what you are going through. Texting your friend when you feel a craving can help you to feel supported and remind you that you can make it through.
Quitting your smoking habit immediately benefits your body and will lead to a longer, healthier life. Even though going through withdraws is uncomfortable can be really hard at times, you can make it through your cravings by setting small goals, establishing new habits, and calling on the support of a friend, counselor, or physician.