Smoking is an unhealthy habit. Everybody knows it, but quitting is easier said than done. The habit of smoking develops over time: smokers slowly condition the body to get used to nicotine and the other chemicals contained in cigarettes. Once the body is used to smoking, it becomes an addiction and it will take a similar amount of time to re-condition the body not need the nicotine contained the cigarette. If you have decided to quit smoking, here are 10 effective tips to help you quit as soon as possible.
Tip 1: Be strongly motivated
Why are you willing to quit at this point in time? To achieve anything in life you first need a real motivation. We all know smoking is bad for your health but that didn’t prevent you from developing the habit in the first place, right? So telling yourself that you want to quit smoking just because it is bad for your health is not enough to motivate you to quit. You need to find a valid reason to quit smoking. Maybe someone you know was diagnosed with cancer and the doctor said they have 2 months left to live. So the penny has finally dropped for you too, giving you the incentive you needed to quit smoking and start living a healthier life. Maybe you simply went for a walk and struggled for normal breathing. Whatever the motivation, make sure that it is strong enough to make you want to do something about it.
Tip 2: Be kind to yourself
It took some time for your body to get used to smoking. Similarly, it’s going to take some time to train your body not to depend on it. You are lying to yourself if you think that you can quit just like that, overnight. Whilst it’s not impossible, it’s unlikely to produce the wanted outcome: statics show that 95% of the people who quit smoking overnight relapses. The fact is that once your brain gets used to nicotine, it craves for it. If you deny the brain of its daily nicotine intake you may end up suffering from unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. On the other hand, a progressive approach will allow the body to re-adapt to do without nicotine.
Tip 3: Choose the right programme for you
There are many programmes available designed to help you quit smoking. One of them is the nicotine-replacement therapy. Since your body will still need its daily dose of nicotine, pharmaceutical companies have formulated drugs that you can rely on to get your body accustomed to lesser and lesser amounts of nicotine. Nicotine patches, lozenges and chewing gums are available for this purpose. These nicotine-based formulas are there to support you especially during the first few days after quitting, as these are probably the most difficult ones. Your body will start craving for nicotine to the point where it can be so overwhelming that you might just give up and pick up a cigarette. The nicotine-replacement approach is there to keep your craving for nicotine at bay.
Maybe you just don’t want to deal with nicotine anymore. For this reason, you may decide not to even try nicotine-replacement drugs. There are other drugs that have been designed to ease nicotine withdrawal without the need for you to take any nicotine-based substance. You can just ask your doctor about these prescription drugs that affect chemicals in your brain in a way that the desire to smoke is kept under check.
It is always easier to achieve something when you know you are not alone trying to achieve it. There are certainly other people trying to quit smoking just like you. Why not join a group therapy? Listening to other people’s experience about how they are coping daily with their new lifestyle can help you stick to your own plan or even give you new ideas on how to cope better based on what other people in your group have tried.
Tip 4: Learn to deal with stress
Every human being has to deal with stress at a certain point in his life. Some people actually developed the habit of smoking because they found out it was an easy way to deal with stress. Nicotine can help you relax and that is why when a person who smokes experiences stress he quickly takes out a cigarette. Fortunately there are other healthier ways to deal with stress. For example, you can listen to relaxing music, go for a massage or do some meditation. You don’t need to rely on any substance to deal with your stress, it is all about learning to know yourself and master your reactions to everyday life.
Tip 5: Avoid triggers
Smoking is a habit. You probably developed that habit in relation to other habits in your daily activities. For example, you might be used to smoking immediately after every meal. That becomes second nature to the point where as soon as you finish your meal, your hand is already reaching to get a cigarette. That is what is referred to as a trigger. Other examples of triggers may be smoking when playing cards with your friend or smoking on a night drinking with friends. Especially to begin with, you might want to avoid situations that will automatically trigger you to want to smoke and resume them once your resolution has become stronger.
Tip 6: Clean your home
The moment you make up your mind that you don’t want to smoke anymore, you need to make sure that your house does not smell or contain any item that reminds you of smoking. Get rid of the ashtray if you used to have one. Clean all the rooms where you used to smoke, use air fresheners and get rid of any other item that in one way or another could remind you of smoking.
Tip 7: Do some exercise
Nicotine craving can be dealt with by doing some exercise. Anytime the desire to smoke arises, you can choose an alternative activity: go for a stroll, walk the dog or go for a jog. Yoga and tai chi are also good both for your health and to increase your self-control.
Tip 8: Eat more fruit & veg
A study carried out at Duke University found that after eating fruit and veg, cigarettes taste terrible. You can kill two birds with one stone using this strategy because by eating more fruit and veg you are filling your body with all kinds of disease-fighting nutrients and at the same time you are preventing yourself from falling under the temptation of smoking.
Tip 9: Reward yourself
When you quit smoking, all the money you were spending on cigarettes can be spent on something else. Just calculate how much you could save in a month. Why not use that money to reward yourself with a relaxing massage or a day spa for example? This will reinforce your resolution to quit as we are more likely to repeat behaviour that has positive outcomes. Just keep reminding yourself of the reward you will get at the end of the month not to spend money on cigarettes.
Tip 10: Keep reminding yourself about the benefits
Last but not least, you shouldn’t forget the many health benefits you will enjoy once you quit smoking. Your blood pressure goes down, your pulse reduces and the carbon monoxide in your blood returns to normal levels. Three moths after you quit smoking, your lungs restart functioning properly and your risks of heart attack decreases. Don’t forget that people who continue to smoke are at increased risk of stroke, coronary heart diseases, lung and many other forms of cancer. It is indeed the best thing to quit and you can only congratulate yourself for making that choice. Whatever made you decide to finally quit smoking, be grateful for it. If you succeed in quitting, share your story with your loved one who are still struggling with this unhealthy habit. Your success might increase their desire to quit.
What if you relapse again?
Many people who tried to quit smoking for the first time have had relapses. This is nothing new. Read for example our recent post on smoking in Greece and how Greeks kill their children slowly. The most important thing whenever you want to achieve anything at all in life is to try again. There are different reasons why you might fall back into smoking but when that happens take the time to properly analyze the situation. Ask yourself what got you into it again, what emotions and circumstances made you start smoking back. Learn from it and come up with a strategy that will help you not to relapse again. Set yourself a new “quit date” and try again.
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