We all know the health risks involved with smoking, but that doesn’t make it any easier to quit the habit. Whether you’re a teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be really tough.
The nicotine in cigarettes offers a quick and reliable way to boost your outlook, relieve stress, and unwind. Tobacco cravings or urges to smoke can be powerful. But you’re not at the mercy of these cravings.
To successfully quit smoking, you’ll need to not only change your behavior and cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms but also find healthier ways to manage your moods.
With the right game plan, though, you can break the addiction and join the millions of people who’ve kicked the habit for good.
Your personal stop smoking plan to give up Smoking
While some smokers successfully quit by going cold turkey, most people do better with a plan to keep themselves on track.
A good plan addresses both the short-term challenge of quitting smoking and the long-term challenge of preventing relapse. It should also be tailored to your specific needs and smoking habits.
But you also need to ask yourself certain questions such as;
Is it a very bad addiction (more than a pack a day)? Or are you more of a social smoker? Would a simple nicotine patch do the job?
Are there certain activities, places, or people you associate with smoking? Do you feel the need to smoke at every meal?
Do you reach for cigarettes when you’re feeling stressed or down? Or is your cigarette smoking linked to other addictions, such as alcohol or gambling?
Start your stop smoking plan with S.T.A.R.T
S = Set a quit date
Choose a date within the next two weeks, so you have enough time to prepare without losing your motivation to quit. If you mainly smoke at work, quit on the weekend, so you have a few days to adjust to the change.
T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit
Let your friends and family in on your plan to quit smoking and tell them you need their support and encouragement to stop. Look for a quit buddy who wants to stop smoking as well. You can help each other get through the rough times.
A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you’ll face while quitting
Most people who begin smoking again do so within the first three months. You can help yourself make it through by preparing ahead for common challenges, such as nicotine withdrawal and cigarette cravings.
R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco related products from your home, car, and work
Throw away all of your cigarettes (no emergency pack), lighters, ashtrays, and matches. Wash your clothes and freshen up anything that smells like smoke. Shampoo your car, clean your drapes and carpet, and steam your furniture.
T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit
Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with withdrawal and suggest other alternatives. If you can’t see a doctor, you can get many products over the counter at your local pharmacy or grocery store, including the nicotine patch, nicotine lozenges, and nicotine gum.
Here are 10 practical steps to quit smoking when a tobacco craving strikes
1. Try nicotine replacement therapy
Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy. The options include:
- Prescription nicotine in a nasal spray or inhaler
- Over-the-counter nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges
- Prescription non-nicotine stop-smoking medications such as bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix)
Short-acting nicotine replacement therapies — such as nicotine gum, lozenges, nasal sprays or inhalers — can help you overcome intense cravings. These short-acting therapies are generally safe to use in combination with long-acting nicotine patches or one of the non-nicotine medications.
Electronic cigarettes have had a lot of attention recently as an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes.
However, more studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation and the long-term safety of these devices.
2. Don’t have ‘just one’
You might be tempted to have just one cigarette to satisfy a tobacco craving. But don’t fool yourself into believing that you can stop there. More often than not, having just one leads to another— and you may end up using tobacco again
3. Steer clear from triggers
Urges for tobacco are likely to be strongest in the situations where you smoked or chewed tobacco most often, such as at parties or bars, or while feeling stressed or sipping coffee.
Identify your trigger situations and have a plan in place to avoid them entirely or get through them without using tobacco.
Don’t set yourself up for a smoking relapse. If you usually smoked while you talked on the phone, for instance, keep a pen and paper nearby to occupy yourself with doodling rather than smoking.
4. Use the delay technique
If you feel like you’re going to give in to your tobacco craving, tell yourself that you must first wait 10 more minutes — and then do something to distract yourself for that period of time.
Try going to a public, smoke-free zone.
These simple tricks may be enough to derail your tobacco craving.
5. Chew on it
Give your mouth something to do to fight a tobacco craving. Chew on sugarless gum or hard candy, or munch on raw carrots, celery, nuts or sunflower seeds — something crunchy and satisfying.
6. Practice relaxation techniques
Smoking may have been your way to deal with stress. Resisting a tobacco craving can itself be stressful.
Take the edge off stress by practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, yoga, visualization, massage or listening to calming music.
7. Call for reinforcements
Touch base with a family member, friend or support group member for help in your effort to resist a tobacco craving.
Chat on the phone; go for a walk together, share a few laughs, or get together to commiserate about your cravings.
8. Get physical about it
Physical activity can help distract you from tobacco cravings and reduce their intensity. An Even short burst of physical activity — such as running up and down the stairs a few times — can make a tobacco craving go away.
Get out for a walk or jog.
If you’re stuck at home or the office, try squats, deep knee bends, pushups, running in place, or walking up and down a set of stairs.
If physical activity doesn’t interest you, try prayer, needlework, woodwork or journaling.
Or do chores for distraction, such as vacuuming or filing paperwork.
9. Go online for support
Join an online stop-smoking program. Or read a quitter’s blog and post encouraging thoughts for someone else who might be struggling with tobacco cravings.
Learn from how others have handled their tobacco cravings.
Thrivengr.com for one dedicates a huge chunk it’s resources to writing stuff to help you quit bad habits 🙂
10. Remind yourself of the benefits
Write down or say out loud the reasons you want to stop smoking and resist tobacco cravings. These might include:
- Feeling better
- Getting healthier
- Sparing your loved ones from secondhand smoke
- Saving money
Remember, trying something to beat the urge is always better than doing nothing. And each time you resist a tobacco craving, you’re one step closer to being totally tobacco-free.
On a final note, giving up smoking will help you way way more than you ever imagined. For extra reasons and to build up your will-power against this act, see real reasons why you should quit smoking.