The health impact of smoking is undeniable. Smoking harms every cell in your body, which can lead to hundreds of diseases and health issues. Deciding to quit is an excellent choice. Whether you are trying to quit for the first time or the 100th time, these tips can help.
- Have a reason. To stay motivated when the urge to smoke is highest, you need a more compelling reason not to smoke. Maybe you want to live to see your kids grow up. Or maybe you want to walk up the stairs without wheezing. Or maybe you just want your skin to look magnificent as you age. Find the reason that motivates you the most and remember it every time you are tempted to smoke.
- Get help. There are numerous smoking cessation programs and resources to help you. Look for programs offered by your healthcare provider. Support groups and classes can help you stay on the path. Counselors, medications, and devices are also helpful. Find what works best for you and stick with it.
- Think about a nicotine replacement. Initially your body will go through nicotine withdrawal, which may make the process of quitting even harder. Nicotine replacement items, such as patches or gum, can help ease this process.
- Recruit friends and family to talk to about quitting. Letting people know that you are quitting can be extremely helpful. They can support you when you are struggling or just listen when you need to vent. They can also help keep you accountable when you may be tempted to fall back into smoking.
- Find new activities to help you stay busy and destress. Smoking can feel like a stress-reliever for many, so look for new ways to relax or release stress. Some good substitutions include exercise, a brisk walk, a massage, music, or new skill like learning to play an instrument. As a bonus, playing an instrument will also keep your hands busy, helping avoid the fidgety feeling.
- Avoid triggers. A trigger can be anything from a person, environment or place, to activities like going to a party. One thing our brains do is connect triggers with behaviors. So if you want to avoid the behavior of smoking, it’s best to avoid anything that triggers that urge. This way you won’t have to battle with will power all day long.
- Remove all reminders. Just like triggers, reminders can be anything from an ashtray in your backyard to the smell in your clothes or car. Anything that reminds you of smoking should be removed. This includes all smoking paraphernalia, such as lighters and ashtrays. You don't want any visual or sensory reminders around.
- Eat healthily. It may be tempting to give up one indulgence for another, but this is an important time to eat lots of healthy food to help your body detox the chemicals and stay positive. Avoid eating junk food and sugary foods as these could add to your urge to smoke later.
- Remind yourself of all the health benefits you will gain from quitting. You will also save money. Think about a reward you can give yourself with the money you saved instead of spending on cigarettes. Treat yourself to a vacation or that fantastic outfit you’ve had your eye on. Make hitting a milestone fun and rewarding. This will keep you on target and motivated.
Remember, if you relapse, it’s OK. Many people have to try multiple times before they finally succeed. Don’t stress it. Just get back on track and keep trying. It’s simply a setback, and it could be a stepping stone to quitting for good.
Griffin Health offers free education, advice and support to help individuals prepare to quit smoking with its four-week smoking cessation program, “That’s It – Learn to Quit.”
Through group discussion and interactive activities, participants learn how to develop a quit plan that addresses their personal behaviors and habits. Strategies to manage nicotine withdrawal, behaviors, triggers, and urges are discussed as well as weight control and stress management. For more information, visit griffinhealth.org/community/quit-smoking.