The new year begins and we find ourselves making resolutions, many of which fade away in the weeks and months to follow. “I will quit smoking” is one such. We’re not going to lie and say it’s super-easy to do Let’s face it – nicotine is an addiction and you do need to resolve to stop smoking. So think about it and all the ways in which you and those around you will benefit from your kicking the habit..
Understand the triggers
Watch the pattern of your smoking and understand what triggers your urge for a cigarette. These could be:
- the smell of cigarette smoke
- having an ashtray next to you
- seeing packs of cigarettes at the store
- certain food or drinks ending a good meal
- talking to your smoking buddies
- feeling sad or happy
How hard is it to quit?
This depends on the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day, the people you hang out with and the reasons you smoke – which could be to deal with stress and peer-pressure, to fit in or lose weight, because it’s a social event and people around you are lighting them up.
You can do it!
That said, while quitting smoking may be difficult, it certainly is not impossible; in fact, it is very, very possible. So once you decide to say ‘No’ to tobacco, just bear in mind the following:
- Plan how to manage ‘trigger situations’. Stay away from them at least for the first three months of quitting smoking – this is the period you are most likely to have a relapse.
- The first few days are the most difficult and nicotine withdrawal is likely to make you feel irritable or depressed. But take heart – this does settle down in a few days.
- Join a support group. Quitting smoking or any other habit is always easier when you have people batting for you.
- Build your own I Quit Smoking Plan. Inform your family and friends of your decision and ask them to help you.
- Find healthy, low-cal substitutes for your habit. Keep carrot sticks, gum and sunflower seeds handy. Chew on these when the urge to smoke strikes you.
- Keep your hands active. Working with your hands is therapeutic and reduces stress, which in turn reduces your urge to smoke. You could also learn a hobby with non-smoking friends.
- Set milestones – a week, a month, three months, six months, a year – and reward yourself with a little something when you achieve one. Remember the first two weeks are the most difficult. If you can keep away from the smokes for three months, you really are over the worst.
So how do you stop?
- You could go cold turkey and quit completely when you decide to.
- You could join an organised support group where you will be mentored and helped in your effort to quit smoking.
- Behavioural therapy with a counsellor is another option. Your counsellor is trained to help you identify and deal with your cravings and what causes them.
- Nicotine replacement therapy with gum, patches, sprays, lozenges or inhalers are said to be very effective. They give you the nicotine without the tobacco or smoking it in.
- Medication too can help you quit smoking, but your physician must prescribe them for you.
Here are 11 tips to help you deal with withdrawal:
Sip cold water Eat small meals of lean, healthy food Note all the positive changes that result from not smoking. You will certainly experience a sense of general well-being – you’ll feel more energetic, smell nicer, taste food better, and save money too. Put up lists in a few places of all the benefits you will gain by quitting – mirror, bathroom, fridge, desk in office Brush your teeth often. The feel of a clean mouth puts off the urge to smoke Avoid places where people are smoking. Find your own No Smoking zones Keep busy, make a list of the stuff you really want to do. Put something else in your mouth; just stick to low-cal stuff Get a friend / relative (a former smoker) to support you in this Distract yourself with a novel or movie when you feel irritable Cut back on caffeine or anything else that makes you jumpy
What happens when the resolution goes up in smoke?
It’s very possible that your attempt to stop smoking may not succeed the first time you make the resolution. The important thing is not to give up. Smoked a cigarette? Never mind! Get right back to your plan and try again.
And remember – there really is nothing you can not do if you set your mind to it!