The Challenge of Quitting Smoking
Smoking is both an addition and psychological habit and the prospect of coping without cigarettes can be unnerving. Smoking may be engraved into your daily routine, used as a form of stress relief, or used as a way to fit in with society. Additionally, there are numerous factors that increase your likelihood of being a smoker, such as if you’re unemployed, under continuous stress, or work a manual job.
Tobacco contains nicotine, which is the addictive substance that makes you crave your next cigarette. It is suppressing these cravings that is the target of most smoking cessation medications and techniques, of which nicotine patches, gum and prescription tablets are just a few on the market these days. Stopping smoking entirely means you will have to find healthier habits and change your outlook and behaviour in order to overcome the nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Our Top Tips to Quit Smoking
Here are some of the ways to help you quit smoking for good:
There’s no two ways around it. To quit smoking for good, your willpower will be put to the test. Every time you want a cigarette, you will need the self-discipline to make a decision contrary to the one you’d usually make. There will be plenty of temptations, such as seeing the cigarettes behind the till at a checkout, passing a smoker in the street or being offered a cigarette by a friend. To fight these urges effectively, try to stay mentally grounded; remind yourself why you need to give up, who for (yourself and/or a loved one) and how succumbing to the urge to smoke will undo your progress up until that point. Remind yourself that your mind and body will thank you in the long run for the decision you’re currently making to say no to a cigarette, and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment you get from staying strong and making the better decision. With this said, do not rely on willpower alone, as in isolation it is shown to be the least effective method of quitting. Couples willpower with appropriate medication to see the best results.
2. Find your motivation
Quitting isn’t usually a walk in the park, so unless you’ve got a clear idea of why you’re trying to quit in the first place, you’ll end up convincing yourself of excuses in the moment as to why it’s not so bad after all. Find the driving factor you would like to quit, whether it’s to avoid being on the operating table with lung cancer, so that your children don’t develop the bad habit, or to save yourself money. Keep a picture of your motivation as your phone wallpaper for a continuous reminder of why you’re doing this, whether that’s a photo of your family, or maybe a picture of the holiday destination you want to go next with the savings from quitting smoking. Make sure you are in this for yourself, and the consequence of not quitting is large enough to keep you mentally focused during any rough patches.
3. Decide on a date
Pick a date sometime in the near future that you want to have fully quit smoking by. Tell your loved ones about this date, and put it in your calendar so it’s always a reminder. If you’re pursuing the tapering off approach to quitting smoking (versus the “cold turkey” approach) set yourself sub goals with dates by when you’ll reduce your smoking to x number of cigarettes per week, for example. This will help put tangible, measurable milestones in your quitting journey, and reasons to celebrate the little wins along the way.
4. Use alternative nicotine sources
The withdrawals from going “cold turkey” can be very real, and nicotine is the addictive component of a cigarette that our brains crave. Thankfully, we can strip away the carcinogens and toxins from smoking by detaching them from nicotine (which isn’t necessarily harmful in isolation) and using a different vehicle for nicotine administering. Nicorette has come up with a number of different ways in which you can consume isolated nicotine without needing to go near tobacco. Chewing gum, mouth spray, patches and lozenges are among the mediums available for obtaining nicotine in a safe manner. Whilst vaping or using e-cigarettes reduces the contact with tar and other harmful chemicals from cigarettes, there is little research on their long-term effects, so is not an avenue that should necessarily be relied upon for the end goal of improving health.
5. Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol has been shown to reduce our ability to say no to things, and adhere to the boundaries we’ve set for ourselves. Therefore drinking alcohol, especially multiple units, may make it trickier to remain grounded and motivated to say no to a cigarette in the moment. The higher your alcohol consumption, the higher risk of relapsing, so avoid becoming intoxicated to give yourself the best chance at success.
6. Get some support
Just like training for a marathon or implementing a new weight loss diet, you need the support of friends and family to see you through the inevitable tough times. They can encourage you to stick to your goals and keep you from relapsing. You may have to make the tough decision of spending less time around a friend or family member who might negatively influence your progress, perhaps because they themselves are a smoker or are not supportive of your lifestyle change. Find an anchor in your social group who also doesn’t smoke or who is also quitting, so you can be close to someone who is unlikely to persuade you to smoke, and provides their backing for you to hit your goals.
7. Come off the nicotine
With nicotine being the addictive substance, reducing or eliminating your intake (and therefore dependence) is the ultimate long-term goal. This won’t happen overnight, so you may need medication needing nicotine to initially substitute for cigarettes. However, the plant-based, nicotine-free medication Champix can help suppress the cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms whilst reducing your nicotine dependence. This is a highly popular and effective treatment that should see the end of your smoking within 24 weeks of using the medication.
Distract yourself from the cravings and negative habits with something you love, such as a new hobby or class. Physical activity can also suppress the withdrawal symptoms you’ll feel once you quit, and just 9 months after stopping smoking your lung capacity increases by 10% so you’ll be able to do more activities with ease.
Acting on the above points will create great foundations for a successful quitting plan, giving yourself the best possible pathway to a smoke-free future and refraining from relapse. Your journey to better health starts here, and we’re behind you all the way!