Are you ready to stop smoking?
Planning to Quit
If you are reading this section, you are ready to make a plan to quit. This section will prepare you to quit smoking by helping you to make a plan and choose a way to quit. Good luck, you can do it!
You may think that willpower is all it takes to quit smoking. But the truth is that it takes much more. It also takes planning, support, coping, and changes to your daily routine. If you are really concerned about withdrawal, you may want to consider using medication such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy to help manage your symptoms. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
There are three main steps in getting ready to quit: You will need to prepare yourself, set a quit date, and get support. You should prepare yourself to quit at least a week before the date you expect to quit smoking.
|How To Prepare Yourself To Quit|
|Decide positively that you want to quit||Try to avoid negative thoughts about how difficult it might be.|
|List all the reasons why you want to quit||Every night before going to bed, repeat one of the reasons 10 times.|
|List the pros and cons of smoking|
|You can create a “Survival Kit” to help you, once you decide to quit||In the “Survival Kit”:
Print several copies and paste them around your house and carry one with you.
|Remove triggers to smoke||The times, places, and situations that give you the urge to smoke are called triggers. You should start changing things in your daily routine that trigger your urge to smoke. Look at the following list of typical triggers. Do any of them ring a bell with you?
These triggers can be anticipated and avoided. Here are some things you might try to avoid them.
Tips to avoid triggers:
|Develop strong personal reasons to stop smoking||Develop these reasons in addition to your health and obligations to others. For example, think of all the time you waste taking cigarette breaks, rushing out to buy a pack, hunting for a light, etc.|
|Begin to condition yourself physically||Start a modest exercise program; drink more fluids; get plenty of rest; and avoid fatigue.|
|Set a target date for quitting||A target date for quitting can be a special day such as your birthday, your anniversary. If you smoke heavily at work, quit during your holidays so that you’re already committed to quitting when you return. Make the date sacred, and don’t let anything change it. This will make it easy for you to keep track of the day you became a nonsmoker and to celebrate that date every year.|
|Get support||Bet a friend you can quit on your target date. Put your cigarette money aside for every day, and forfeit it if you smoke. (But if you do smoke, DON’T GIVE UP. Simply strengthen your resolve and try again.) Ask your spouse or a friend to quit with you. Tell your family and friends that you’re quitting and when. They can be an important source of support, both before and after you quit.|
|Choose a smoking buddy (or several buddies)||Who would be good support for you while you quit smoking? Write down the name (names) and how to contact your buddy. You can write down your buddy’s contact information as well as the reasons you want to quit. Keep it with you for the times when you are tempted.|
If you are in this stage of quitting, you are ready to try something new—not smoking. You understand why you smoke, why you want to quit and you have made a plan of how you will quit. This section will can help you cope with the short-term discomforts that come with quitting. We also give suggestions on how to avoid or limit the situations that make you want to smoke and what to do if you start smoking again.
Ready, set, quit!
Now you are ready to quit:
- You have listed your reasons for quitting.
- You know why you smoke.
- You have a plan to avoid triggers.
- You have your survival kit and you have tried to cut down.
- You may even have obtained nicotine replacements or other medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms.
Set a quit date
- Pick a date when you will actually stop. Set it far enough in the future that you can plan and prepare.
- Write that date on your calendar, put a note on your refrigerator, stick it on your bathroom mirror, leave a reminder on your car dashboard, and write it down at work. Start diet and exercise changes now. That will help your body prepare for the changes you will face on your “quit” date.
Remember that the benefits of quitting start soon after you quit
According to the American Lung Association:
- Within two days of quitting your senses of taste and smell begin to improve.
- Within four weeks of quitting your blood circulation improves and your lungs work better.
- After one year of quitting your risk of heart disease is only half that of someone who continues to smoke.
- Within three years of quitting your risk of a heart attack is about the same as someone who has never smoked.
- After 10 years of being smoke-free you cut your risk of getting lung cancer in half.
For at least the first several weeks after quitting, you should:
- Avoid all smoking equipment such as cigarette packs, matches, lighters, and ashtrays.
- Avoid all regular smoking locations during the withdrawal time.
- Ask your friends not to smoke around you or stay away from them, as much as possible, while they are smoking.
- Keep busy, especially in the evenings and on weekends.
- Drink lots of fluids, particularly water, but not alcohol or drinks containing caffeine.
- Brush your teeth often and have your teeth cleaned. This will help rid your mouth of smoking tastes and tooth stains.
Keep a list of the reasons you want to stop smoking in your pocket or purse and look at it often. You are a model (whether you want to be or not) to your children and anyone else who is a nonsmoker or would like to be one.
By not buying cigarettes you will save enough money each year for a small vacation, so take it and have fun!
|Survival Kit (Prepare it ahead of time)|
Now, you are a non-smoker. Like any other habit, it takes time to become a part of you; unlike most other habits, though, not smoking will take some conscious effort and practice. In this section we suggest ways to replace the habit of smoking with other actions and thoughts. There is information on what to do if you slip and smoke again.
Once you’re addicted to smoking you will always be addicted. The strength of the addiction will gradually decrease, however, and now you are a recovering addict. Many recent ex-smokers have been lulled into a false sense of security. “Six months and not one puff, surely just one little cigarette wouldn’t hurt me now.” The truth is, one cigarette can undo months of careful planning and hard, sometimes painful, work. Don’t let that happen to you.
Keep your guard up
The key to living as a nonsmoker is to avoid letting your urges or cravings for a cigarette lead you to smoke. Don’t kid yourself; even though you have made a commitment not to smoke, you will sometimes be tempted. But instead of giving in to the urge, you can use it as a learning experience.
First, remind yourself that you have quit and you are a nonsmoker.
Then look closely at your urge to smoke and ask yourself:
- Where was I when I got the urge?
- What was I doing at the time?
- Who was with me?
- What was I thinking?
The urge to smoke after you’ve quit often hits at predictable times. The trick is to anticipate those times and find ways to cope without smoking. Naturally, it won’t be easy at first. In fact, you may continue to want a cigarette at times. But remember, even if you slip, it doesn’t mean an end to the nonsmoking you. It does mean that you should try to identify what triggered your slip, strengthen your commitment to quitting, and try again.
Look at the following list of typical triggers. Do any of them ring a bell with you? These are the times when you are more likely to want to smoke. Use this list to remind you of when you may need to use your coping skills.
If you are like many new nonsmokers, the most difficult place to resist the urge to smoke is the most familiar: home. The activities most closely associated with smoking urges are eating, partying, and drinking. And, not surprisingly, most urges occur when a smoker is present.
|Tips To Help You Cope|
|Think about why you quit||Go back to your list of reasons for quitting. Look at this list several times a day; especially when you are hit with the urge to smoke. The best reasons you could have for quitting are very personally yours, and these are also the best reasons to stay a nonsmoker.|
|Know when you are rationalizing||It is easy to rationalize yourself back into smoking. Don’t talk yourself into it. A new nonsmoker in a tense situation may think, “I’ll just have one cigarette to calm myself down.” If thoughts like this pop into your head, stop and think again! You now know better ways to relax; non-smoking ways, such as taking a walk or doing breathing exercises.
Concern about gaining weight may also lead to rationalizations. Learn to counter thoughts such as, “I’d rather be thin, even if it means smoking.” Remember that a slight weight gain is not likely to endanger your health as much as smoking would. (Cigarette smokers have about a 70 % higher rate of premature death than nonsmokers.) And review the list of healthy, low-calorie snacks that you used when quitting.
|Anticipate triggers and prepare to avoid them||By now you know which situations, people, and feelings are likely to tempt you to smoke. Be prepared to meet these triggers head on and counter act them.
Keep using the skills that helped you cope in cutting down and quitting:
|Reward yourself for not smoking||Congratulations are in order each time you get through a day without smoking. After a week, give yourself a pat on the back and a reward of some kind. Buy a new CD or treat yourself to a movie or concert. No matter how you do it, make sure you reward yourself in some way. It helps to remind yourself that what you are doing is important.
It is important that you continue to exercise, eat healthy foods, and foster good relationships. This is the most effective way to maintain your nonsmoker status.
Review your reasons for quitting smoking and changing your health behaviors on a regular basis. Reaffirm your commitments to yourself and to your family and friends. Talk with your support people.
Relapse: If You Do Smoke Again
If you slip and smoke, don’t be discouraged. Many former smokers tried to stop several times before they finally succeeded.
|Things To Do|