The following posts are from our January 2014 series “New Year, a New You.” One article will be posted each day in January to discuss building a better you. Article topics will vary every day. We will present various ways to improve your life physically, spiritually, financially and emotionally. Click here to view previous posts.
Trying to quit any bad habit can be really hard, none so harder than smoking. Nicotine is one of the most addictive, harmful and widely available legal drugs in the world. It’s annoying and harmful to people who don’t smoke and cigarettes are responsible for around 4.9 million deaths each year. But quitting is not impossible. If knocking cigarettes is a goal for this year, try these tips:
1. PREPARE YOURSELF FOR QUITTING
Decide that you want to quit. Try to avoid negative thoughts about what a challenge it might be. Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit and every night before bed repeat one of those reasons 10 times. Begin to condition yourself; start an exercise program, start drinking more water, and get plenty of rest to avoid fatigue. Set a target date – a sacred date that is east to remember and one that will be a cause of celebration each year.
2. KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT
Understand that quitting isn’t easy but it’s not impossible either. In fact, more than 3 million Americans quit every year. Also understand that withdrawal symptoms are temporary, they usually only last 1-2 weeks. Most relapses occur during this span, when withdrawal symptoms are strongest and your body is still dependent on nicotine. Realize this will be your hardest time and use every resource available to you for help: family, friends, your willpower, etc. Be aware too that most successful ex-smokers quit for good after several attempts so you may not be able to quit on the first try. If you don’t, do not give up. Try again.
3. INVOLVE ANOTHER PERSON
Ask a friend or loved one to hold you accountable or ask someone else to quit with you. They can be an important source of support and encouragement. Or since no one likes to see their money walk away, try making a bet with a friend. Set a bet on your target date. Put your cigarette money aside for every day and if you light up they get your cash. However, if you do lose the bet, DON’T beat yourself up. Try again.
4. FIND A MEDICATION OR DOCTOR TO HELP
Nicotine replacement therapy is an option. Patches release a steady stream of nicotine into your bloodstream through your skin. Gum delivers nicotine through the lining in your mouth. Other forms include nicotine sprays and inhalers that also work by delivering nicotine to your body. You can also ask your doctor about prescription medications to help you quit.
5. USE SUBSTITUTES
Use a cigarette substitute like mints, sunflower seeds or toothpicks to help you get used to not smoking. Your mind and body become accustomed to the physical act of smoking – holding the cigarette in your hand and putting it to your lips. Using harmless substitutes can ease the brain into not smoking. Do things that distract from smoking like playing sports, going to the movies, or taking an outdoor walk. Place a fat rubber band on your wrist. Every time you get a craving, pull the rubber band back and “snap” your wrist, the trigger sensation goes away with the sting of the snap.
Remove all tobacco products plus ashtrays from your home and office. Lighters and matches too. Don’t even keep a pack at your home or office; it will make it easier to start smoking again.
Quitting isn’t easy. Remember you are only human and set-backs are likely during your first attempt. But don’t give up and keep trying. Your family will thank you for it. Life is short and definitely better enjoyed healthy!