Nobody plans to become a smoker. Yet smoking is a habit that, over time, becomes powerfully addictive and difficult to stop. If you’re a smoker, you probably already know the health benefits that quitting will provide. The good news is that it doesn’t matter how much you smoke, or how long you have smoked for. If you start cutting down now, your body will begin to repair itself almost immediately and you could end up adding years to your life. If you’ve decided that you want to embark on the path to quitting, you’re in the right place. Read on and follow these 10 steps that could help you to successfully kick the habit for good.
1. Resolve to quit
Start by resolving to quit. The best way to become motivated is to think of a personal, powerful reason to give up smoking. Sit and write down all of the reasons you want to quit and weigh these up against the reasons why you smoke. These could include decreasing your risk of developing serious diseases, setting an example for your children, saving money, or a general desire to improve your overall health and wellbeing. If going cold turkey at this stage seems overwhelming, that’s okay. Resolve to cut down instead and you’re already on your way.
2. Devise a quit plan
Once you’ve resolved to quit, devise a specific plan. Quitting gradually can be easier and more effective than quitting cold turkey, so break down your overall quitting goal to small steps or milestones to guide your progress. For example, list weekly cigarette reduction targets, such as smoking ten fewer cigarettes each week. If you’re worried about weight gain after quitting, plan to eat healthier and exercise more.
When devising a quit plan you should consider the following:
- How do you plan on altering your smoking habits and routines?
- Will you seek professional guidance?
- Will you inform friends and family so they can support you on your journey?
- How are you going to reward yourself as you hit certain milestones?
Plan to track your progress in a journal in which you’ll record everything: goals, successes, challenges, lapses and anything else that will assist you on your journey.
3. Choose a quit day
Pick a date within the next two weeks to quit. The two week timeframe should give you enough time to prepare while ensuring you don’t lose your motivation. Make sure it’s an easy day to stop smoking – one without anticipated stress at work or social outings that would normally trigger you to light up. Along with this, plan what you will do on your quit day. If it’s on a weekend, fill your day with distracting activities. If it falls on a work day, make sure to have healthy snacks on hand to distract you on what would usually be your cigarette breaks.
4. Clean your house before you quit
The smell of tobacco – even when stale – is enough to trigger cravings, so conduct a thorough clean of your house right after your final cigarette. Wash your clothes, clean the carpets, steam the furniture and throw away any smoking paraphernalia so it can’t remind you of the habit. If you normally smoke in your car, make sure you clean out the dashboard ashtray and, if possible, take the car to get professionally cleaned.
5. Anticipate the hurdles
Anticipate the possible hurdles ahead so you’re well prepared for them. By being realistic about the challenges, you’ll probably be more likely to persist at quitting smoking. Drink more water, avoid alcohol and other triggers, stay active, and develop healthy habits and routines to replace cigarette smoking.
6. Use a Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) works by releasing a lower, therapeutic dose of nicotine compared to smoking. Using these products could help to minimise withdrawal symptoms and reduce the frequency and intensity of cravings. By using products such as Nicotinell as part of your quit plan, you can boost your chances of successfully quitting by as much as 75% when combination therapy of patch and gum is used.
7. Manage cravings with the four Ds
The Four Ds give you a simple process for managing your cravings: delay, deep breathing, drink, and do. Respond to cravings by delaying acting on the urge and doing nothing for a few moments. Take deep breaths as you delay and avoid acting on the craving. Drink water as you overcome the craving, and finally, do something else as the craving passes.
8. When the urge hits, HALT
Cravings usually last for five to ten minutes each time, so have a go-to list of ways you can unwind or distract yourself for 10 minutes whenever cravings hit. HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) is a powerful acronym to help you recognise the source of your cravings. If you take the time to stop and think about where your cravings are coming from, they can normally be traced back to one of these 4 states:
- Hungry: If you are hungry, a cigarette is not the answer. Although smoking can suppress your appetite, you should opt for a snack instead. Keep healthy snacks on hand such as fruit, or chopped carrots and celery.
- Angry: Feelings of anger can often trigger cravings as many people turn to cigarettes to calm themselves down. Instead, attempt to find healthy outlets for your feelings of frustration. Exercise, meditation or even cleaning are great ways to get rid of the excess energy that anger can bring.
- Lonely: If you’re feeling lonely, stop and ask yourself if you have reached out to any of your support networks lately. Speak to the people who know what you’re going through, or others who have already successfully quit.
- Tired: Low energy levels can compromise our ability think clearly and cope with day to day activities. Satisfying the physical need to rest, rejuvenate and recharge is crucial to avoiding relapses.
9. Deal with relapses and slip-ups
Aim to succeed on your first try but keep in mind that quitting can take a number of attempts. If you relapse with a cigarette, don’t punish yourself for it. Instead, refer back to your quit plan, remember why you resolved to quit, and review the trigger(s) for your relapse so you can plan a substitute activity to distract you in case that same trigger comes up again. Maintain a positive attitude and remember that it’s about the overall journey rather than just one slip-up.
10. Reward yourself for success
Calculate how much you’ve saved with each cigarette not smoked and reward yourself with treats, purchases, and experiences at major milestones. Give yourself something to look forward to with each goal that you reach during your quit journey.
Quitting won’t happen overnight
Smoking is a complex addiction made up of both physical and psychological components. Successful quitting isn’t just about having strong willpower; it also involves self-reflection, planning and preparation. It takes time to understand your smoking habits and develop strategies to combat these. By following a clear quit plan and using NRT products such as Nicotinell, you can achieve your quitting goals sooner rather than later.
Disclaimer: All information presented on the Nicotinell blog is provided as general knowledge and advice only. It is not intended to substitute for medical advice. Please always contact a medical professional for your individual health related matters.