Q: I have tried to stop smoking multiple times, but it feels impossible. Every time I’m going through something stressful, I crave a cigarette. It doesn’t help that my coworkers and I take smoke breaks together. Any tips to quit once and for all?
A: Yay!! Good for you to want to end this habit once and for all. Your health will thank you. I love the site smokefree.gov-it gives amazing advice and helps you create a comprehensive plan of action to follow. Visit their site, but I’ll break down their steps for you.
Choose your quit date.
Allow yourself some time to prepare mentally and create your plan. Being prepared for triggers and cravings will help you stay smoke free in the long run. Addiction is a process to overcome. According to smokefree.gov, nicotine from cigarettes is as addictive as heroin. The brain develops extra nicotine receptors to accommodate the large doses of nicotine from tobacco. When the brain stops getting the nicotine it’s used to, the result is nicotine withdrawal. This is what causes you to feel anxious, irritable, and have strong cravings for nicotine.
What are your motivators to quit? Create a list of all the reasons why you want to stop smoking. Remind yourself daily of these!
Health-Nicotine harms nearly every organ in your body! Eeek. Effects can range from a stressed heart, to emphysema, ulcers, gum disease, wrinkles, cavities, weakened immune system and cancer.
Save Money-Add up how much you spend on ciggs for a month. What else could you do with that money?
Relationships-This isn’t just about you. The cigarette smell and second hand smoke affects your loved ones. Not to mention if you get a health condition from smoking, that impacts them too.
Be aware of your triggers
It’s important to know what your triggers are so that you can be prepared to fight the cravings during these times.
Emotional-Does feeling stressed, lonely, bored, depressed or anxious make you light up?
Habitual-Be aware of your routine. Do you need a fix after you eat, at work or when you’re driving?
Social-Is it hard for you to say no when you’re at a bar or social event or with friends who smoke?
Prepare to fight cravings
Smoking is a coping mechanism, a stress reliever, a habit. Replace the cravings with some more positive ways to cope that will soon become your new habit.
- Download a meditation app
- Practice yoga
- Start working out
- Chew gum
- Have healthy snacks on hand to keep your energy levels stable
- Get a good nights sleep
- Stress ball or a fidget toy (google them)
- Wean yourself off with nicotine gum, the patch or lozenges. You can also talk to your Dr about a prescription.
Get rid of reminders
Clean out your car, wash your clothes (especially your jacket) remove all ashtrays, throw out all ciggs and replace with gum.
Did you know there are apps and texting programs to help you quit smoking? Some hospitals even offer support groups. Go to smokefree.gov for more info.