70% of the 46 million Americans who smoke want to quit! Are you one of them?
Maybe you’ve tried to quit and failed. Each year, 1.3 million Americans quit smoking, so it can be done!
Here are six practical tips that can help you stop your smoking habit for good.
1. Get motivated
You’ve got to have a compelling reason for quitting or you’ll find it hard to stick to your resolve.
It isn’t hard to find a good reason to quit tobacco. Smoking is linked to killer diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Smokers lose an average of 14 years off their life expectancy because of this habit. It’s also expensive, costing someone with a pack-a-day habit about $1,500 a year.
More seriously, smokers put their loved ones into danger due to second-hand smoke. Children of smokers have an increased risk of asthma, middle-ear disease, and respiratory infections.
If these thought-provoking facts aren’t enough to motivate you, here are some other reasons to consider quitting:
- Food will taste better
- Your home, car, clothing, and breath will smell better
- You’ll look younger, with fewer wrinkles and whiter teeth
- You’ll set a good example for your kids – children of non-smokers are less likely to start smoking themselves
Find a reason to quit that is stronger than your urge to smoke!
2. Prepare yourself
Knowing what to expect will help you be better prepared to deal with any withdrawal symptoms.
Smoking is an addiction. Very few who try the “cold turkey” method without some back-up plan for dealing with the overwhelming cravings that follow are ever successful.
Nicotine produces a series of physical reactions in the body, including producing a feeling of pleasure caused by the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. When you quit, you deprive your body of this stimulant, and you feel bad. Many complain of headaches, dizziness, irritability, and insomnia.
For some, the “ritual” of smoking – the taste, smell, lighting up, and smoking – have become associated with the pleasurable feelings they experience from the dopamine. Thus, it has become a psychological addiction also!
The good news?
The urge to smoke is at its highest for only about the first three days after you quit, and then tapers off. Getting through those first few days is half the battle won!
3. Get support
Having a support group to act as cheerleaders for your new non-smoking lifestyle will greatly increase your chances of success.
Set a definite date when you will stop smoking and let friends and family know your decision. When you experience the urge to smoke, having someone to call, chat, or text with and “talk you down” can be invaluable. It would also be good to have activities scheduled with your support team members to keep your busy for those first crucial days after you quit.
Free counseling programs on how to stop smoking are also often available through your healthcare program. National support therapy groups like Nicotine Anonymous and smokefree.gov are always available, and each state now has a Quit Line that lets you talk to a tobacco counselor about how to stop smoking immediately.
4. Decide if you will use medication
The use of medication can double your likelihood of being able to stop for good.
Medications can curb cravings or even make the act of smoking less satisfying, making it easier for you to kick the habit. Other medications can help with withdrawal symptoms such as depression or trouble focusing.
These medications are available in a wide variety of forms, including:
- Nasal sprays
- Skin patches
- And more
Talk with your healthcare provider about which would be the most effective for your circumstances.
5. Take a break
Many people say the reason they smoke is that it helps them to relax. When you quit smoking, you will need to find new ways to decompress.
Try to keep your stress levels low for the first few weeks after you stop smoking. Don’t plan to quit when you know you will be experiencing highly stressful situations at school, work, or socially!
There are a lot of fun and pleasurable ways to unwind; try a few of these:
- Listen to your favorite relaxing music
- Plan special activities with friends
- Exercise, go dancing, garden, go for a walk – anything that is physically active
- Have a relaxing massage
- Try aromatherapy
- Use an app for deep breathing and relaxation exercises
You know best what will work for you. Mark these treats on your calendar at the same time you mark your “quit smoking” day. You’ll have something fun to look forward to and focus on other than smoking.
6. Avoid triggers
The day you quit, do a thorough cleaning in your house, car, or workspace of all tobacco products – cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters. Clean all surfaces and carpets of smoke residue so the smell of tobacco won’t trigger cravings.
If you usually smoke in connection with certain actions like eating or drinking, try brushing your teeth instead afterward, chewing sugarless gum, or going for a walk.
The main thing is to plan ahead. Know your triggers and have an action plan in place to deal with them!
How can I stop smoking?
The main takeaway from this article is that the answer to that question is up to you!
We have outlined some of the many methods available to help you quit that have successfully helped others. Now you just need to choose one, set a date, and get going!
What have you done to stop smoking that’s worked? Let us know in the comments below.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.