Quit smoking – easier said than done. Especially as Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances in the world. As a former smoking cessation advisor, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked: “what is the easy way to quit smoking?”. The truth is, there isn’t a simple answer and no two smoking cessation journeys are the same. What I do recommend to help with long-term success is to create a structure in your quitting process using these tips:
Make a “Why I am Quitting Smoking” List
A mental list won’t do. You need to create a physical document that you can come back to again whenever your desire to smoke becomes apparent. Maybe you’re quitting smoking for health reasons? Or because it stains your teeth? Or you want to save money? Maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever the reasons, write a list and refer to it frequently.
Mentally Prepare to Become a Former Smoker
In order to quit smoking, you have to accept that a certain part of your life is going to change forever. And even a choice as life-extending as quitting cigarettes will have an element of grief attached to it. Begin to think positively about quitting smoking and start to mentally shut down your “smoker” identity.
Once you are truly prepared, quitting smoking cigarettes becomes easier to manage.
Learn Your Smoking Triggers
Track your habits. Do you always smoke at specific times such as at work or after dinner? Do you crave a cigarette when you have an alcoholic drink? Do you actually break down your day into cigarette breaks rather than tasks completed? Understanding these triggers will help you avoid these stumbling blocks and change your behaviour.
Tell your friends and family what you’re doing. This will not only boost your morale it will also allow your smoker friends to be aware that they should avoid leading you into temptation. If you can, get a buddy so you can support each other through the process. The NHS also offer support, such as SMS guidance, which can be really useful when quitting on your own.
Make a Plan
Now you have an understanding of your smoking habits the next step is to make a plan. This will offer you some structure as you begin to make the necessary lifestyle changes. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but something like the example below with your own considered milestones will suffice.
Week 1 – Start decreasing smoking times throughout the day.
Week 2 – Give up smoking at work. If this is where your major trigger points occur, use nicotine substitutes to help curb cravings.
Week 3 – Officially quit “smoking”. It’s best to keep tempting social events to a minimum and get a vaporiser to help prevent temptation during this period.
Make a Mantra
Creating a phrase that you can recite in your mind when you’re cravings may overcome you can be really helpful. I myself used, “it costs 5 minutes of your life”, every time I was tempted. Make it unique to you and, of course, something you can remember.
Many smokers find that their cravings are triggered by boredom, therefore, keeping occupied by being active can help keep cravings at bay. Serotonin – the happiness chemical – which is produced when you physically exercise also helps keep you in a positive mindset to resist lighting up.
Remember You’re Human
There are some people who can quit smoking on their first attempt but most of us will hit stumbling blocks along the way. It is important to remember at these times that we shouldn’t punish ourselves and should persist in following our plan. Consider using nicotine substitutes such as a vaporiser or spray if the physical cravings are too much to manage long term. It is not the cigarette that your body is craving, it is the nicotine. The journey is long and should be performed one step at a time. But each step is a step closer to the goal of becoming cigarette free.