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Tips for quitting smoking

Published by: LifeWorks,

Tips for quitting smoking

It’s not easy to quit smoking, but it’s worth it! Kicking your tobacco habit is one of the most important things you can do for your health both short-term and long-term. As you may know, smoking is physically and psychologically addictive, but we’ve got some tips below that can help you quit.

Find your reason 

Sometimes knowing that smoking is associated with heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease and emphysema and that secondhand smoke can be dangerous for your family and friends isn’t enough to make you quit. To get motivated, you need a compelling, personal reason to quit. Find a reason strong enough to outweigh the urge to light up. Whether it’s for your child, your partner or yourself, choose a goal that resonates and think about it often.

Think positive and ask for support

You might have tried to quit smoking before and not managed it, but don’t let that put you off. Look back at the things your experience has taught you and think about how you’re going to do it this time. Tell your friends, family and colleagues that you’re trying to quit. They can encourage you to keep going, especially when you’re tempted to light up. Realize that almost everyone who successfully quits smoking has to try more than once. Be patient with yourself and continually remind yourself of why you want to quit.

Make a plan before you go “cold turkey”

Remember that smoking is an addiction and that going “cold turkey” can work for some people but for others, a step-by-step plan can help them feel better prepared and ready for the “big day”.

How to stop “cold turkey”:

  1. Make a promise to yourself, set a date and stick to it. Sticking to the “not a drag” rule can help.
  2. Your brain is hooked on nicotine, and without it, you’ll go through withdrawal. So, whenever you find yourself in difficulty, say to yourself, “I won’t even have a single drag“, and stick with this until the cravings pass.
  3. Think ahead to times where it might be difficult to resist the urge, a party or a smoking break at work, for instance, and plan your actions.
  4. Line up support in advance. Ask your doctor about all the methods that will help, such as quit-smoking classes and apps, counselling, medication, and hypnosis.

How-to stop gradually:

  • Slowly decrease the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. Also, get rid of all of your ashtrays, lighters and matches.
  • Keep a diary. Jot down when, where and why you want a cigarette every time you have a craving. Download a free quit-smoking app such as the LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach or Kwit to make it easy to keep your journal with you. Keeping a record of your smoking habits can help you understand what situations make you crave nicotine and how you can avoid them.
  • Avoid high-risk situations that make you want to smoke, such as taking work breaks with smoking co-workers, having coffee or being at a party or in a bar. If you can’t leave, try to think about or do something else. Focus on an upcoming vacation, drink a glass of water or take a deep breath to relax.
  • Got a craving? Wait five to 10 minutes before you give into it. Usually, the craving will go away in a couple of minutes. Use positive self-talk to combat negative thoughts that may accompany a craving.
  • Small steps, big changes. Focus on quitting smoking for a day or a week rather than for the rest of your life, so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
  • Seek help. Talk to your health care provider about common cessation methods, including medication, nicotine patches or gum and support groups.

 

Consider your diet

Is your after-dinner cigarette your favourite? A US study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. Others, including cheese, fruit and vegetables, make cigarettes taste terrible. So swap your usual steak or burger for a veggie pizza instead. You may also want to change your routine at or after mealtimes. Getting up and doing the dishes straight away or watching a film may help.

As a substitute for smoking, try chewing on carrots, pickles, apples, celery, sugarless gum, or hard candy. Keeping your mouth busy may stop the psychological need to smoke.

Change your drink

The same US study as above also looked at drinks. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, cola, tea or coffee and cigarettes often go hand-in-hand. Many people pair certain activities with smoking, i.e., drinking a coffee equals smoking. So if you’re trying to quit, try to abstain from alcohol or coffee during your first smoke-free month, and when you’re out, drink more sparkling water and juice.

What are the withdrawal symptoms?

When you stop smoking, nicotine will be gone from your system in three to five days, but the withdrawal symptoms that you’re likely to feel may last a month. Most withdrawal symptoms happen within the first week and may include:

  • Dizziness and shakiness
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Nervousness and restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating and sleeping
  • Increased appetite
  • A slight depression or feeling down
  • Cravings for a smoke

Resources

Go to the BREAK IT OFF.ca  if you’re in Canada, Smokefree.gov if you’re in the US or NHS Smokefree if you’re in the UK for more information on how to stop smoking.

Your employee assistance program (EAP) can also give you information about smoking cessation programs that can help you with your journey, including the Stop Smoking Centre, a proven online resource and support group.

 

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