Love Matters & Lifestyle
- Super User
- Category: Love & Lifestyle
- Wednesday, 07 September 2016 07:57
How to effectively quit smoking: A guide to kicking the habit for good...
Whether you’re a teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be tough. But the more you learn about your options and prepare for quitting, the easier the process will be. With the right game plan tailored to your needs, you can break the addiction, manage your cravings, and join the millions of people who have kicked the habit for good.
Why quitting smoking can seem so hard
Smoking tobacco is both a physical addiction and a psychological habit. The nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary—and addictive—high. Eliminating that regular fix of nicotine will cause your body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because of nicotine’s “feel good” effect on the brain, you may also have become accustomed to smoking as a way of coping with stress, depression, anxiety, or even boredom.
At the same time, the act of smoking is ingrained as a daily ritual. It may be an automatic response for you to smoke a cigarette with your morning coffee, while taking a break from work or school, or during your commute home at the end of a long day. Perhaps friends, family members, and colleagues smoke, and it has become part of the way you relate with them.
To successfully quit smoking, you’ll need to address both the addiction and the habits and routines that go along with it.
Your personal stop smoking plan
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.
Questions to ask yourself
Take the time to think of what kind of smoker you are, which moments of your life call for a cigarette, and why. This will help you to identify which tips, techniques or therapies may be most beneficial for you.
#Do you feel the need to smoke at every meal?
#Are you more of a social smoker?
#Is it a very bad addiction (more than a pack a day)? Or would a simple nicotine patch do the job?
#Do you reach for cigarettes when you're feeling stressed or down?
#Are there certain activities, places, or people you associate with smoking?
#Is your cigarette smoking linked to other addictions, such as alcohol or gambling?
#Are you open to hypnotherapy and/or acupuncture?
#Are you someone who is open to talking about your addiction with a therapist or counselor?
#Are you interested in getting into a fitness program?
Start your stop smoking plan with START
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 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.
How to quit smoking: Identify your smoking triggers
One of the best things you can do to help yourself quit is to identify the things that make you want to smoke, including specific situations, activities, feelings, and people.
Keep a craving journal
A craving journal can help you zero in on your patterns and triggers. For a week or so leading up to your quit date, keep a log of your smoking. Note the moments in each day when you crave a cigarette:
What time was it?
How intense was the craving (on a scale of 1-10)?
What were you doing?
Who were you with?
How were you feeling?
How did you feel after smoking?
Do you smoke to relieve unpleasant or overwhelming feelings?
Managing unpleasant feelings such as stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety are some of the most common reasons why adults smoke. When you have a bad day, it can seem like cigarettes are your only friend. As much comfort as cigarettes provide, though, it's important to remember that there are healthier (and more effective) ways to keep unpleasant feelings in check. These may include exercising, meditating, using sensory relaxation strategies, and practicing simple breathing exercises.
For many people, an important aspect of quitting smoking is to find alternate ways to handle these difficult feelings without smoking. Even when cigarettes are no longer a part of your life, the painful and unpleasant feelings that may have prompted you to smoke in the past will still remain. So, it's worth spending some time thinking about the different ways you intend to deal with stressful situations and the daily irritations that would normally have you reaching for a cigarette.
Tips for avoiding common smoking triggers
Alcohol. Many people have a habit of smoking when they drink. TIP: switch to non-alcoholic drinks or drink only in places where smoking inside is prohibited. Alternatively, try snacking on nuts and chips, or chewing on a straw or cocktail stick.
Other smokers. When friends, family, and co-workers smoke around you, it is doubly difficult to quit or avoid relapse. TIP: Your social circles need to know that you are changing your habits so talk about your decision to quit. Let them know they won't be able to smoke when you're in the car with them or taking a coffee break together. In your workplace, don't take all your coffee breaks with smokers only, do something else instead, or find non-smokers to have your breaks with.
End of a meal. For some smokers, ending a meal means lighting up, and the prospect of giving that up may appear daunting. TIP: replace that moment after a meal with something such as a piece of fruit, a (healthy) dessert, a square of chocolate, or a stick of gum.
How to quit smoking: Coping with nicotine withdrawal symptoms
Once you stop smoking, you will experience a number of physical symptoms as your body withdraws from nicotine. Nicotine withdrawal begins quickly, usually starting within thirty minutes to an hour of the last cigarette and peaking about two to three days later. Withdrawal symptoms can last for a few days to several weeks and differ from person to person.
Common nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:
Irritability, frustration, or anger
Anxiety or nervousness
Constipation or upset stomach
Decreased heart rate
Unpleasant as these withdrawal symptoms may be, they are only temporary. They will get better in a few weeks as the toxins are flushed from your body. In the meantime, let your friends and family know that you won't be your usual self and ask for their understanding.
Coping with Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
|Craving for cigarette||Most intense during first week but can linger for months||Wait out the urge; distract yourself; take a brisk walk.|
|Irritability, impatience||Two to four weeks||Exercise; take hot baths; use relaxation techniques; avoid caffeine.|
|Insomnia||Two to four weeks||Avoid caffeine after 6 p.m.; use relaxation techniques; exercise; plan activities (such as reading) when sleep is difficult.|
|Fatigue||Two to four weeks||Take naps; do not push yourself.|
|Lack of concentration||A few weeks||Reduce workload; avoid stress.|
|Hunger||Several weeks or longer||Drink water or low-calorie drinks; eat low-calorie snacks.|
|Coughing, dry throat, nasal drip||Several weeks||Drink plenty of fluids; use cough drops.|
|Constipation, gas||One to two weeks||Drink plenty of fluids; add fiber to diet; exercise.|
How to quit smoking: Manage cigarette cravings
Avoiding smoking triggers will help reduce the urge to smoke, but you can't avoid cravings entirely. But cigarette cravings don't last long, so if you're tempted to light up, remember that the craving will pass and try to wait it out. It also helps to be prepared in advance. Having a plan to cope with cravings will help keep you from giving in.
- Distract yourself. Do the dishes, turn on the TV, take a shower, or call a friend. The activity doesn't matter as long as it gets your mind off of smoking.
- Remind yourself why you quit. Focus on your reasons for quitting, including the health benefits, improved appearance, money you're saving, and enhanced self-esteem.
- Get out of a tempting situation. Where you are or what you're doing may be triggering the craving. If so, a change of scenery can make all the difference.
- Reward yourself. Reinforce your victories. Whenever you triumph over a craving, give yourself a reward to keep yourself motivated.