Quitting smoking is one of the best things that you can do for your overall health.
Not only does smoking increase your risk for cancer and heart disease, eliminating the habit can improve your lung capacity, make it easier to exercise and improve your mood. If you’ve tried to quit smoking in the past, you know that the promise of these benefits doesn’t make quitting any easier. Nicotine is a very addictive substance and quitting smoking can be a challenge if you’re not prepared. Fortunately, there are several tools that you can use right now to say goodbye to cigarettes forever.
Pinpoint Your Reason For Quitting
Your road to quitting smoking starts with knowing why you want to quit. You probably know why you *should* quit, but everyone has specific reasons why they want to quit. Maybe you want to run a marathon. Maybe you want to be around for your child’s wedding and grandchildren. Perhaps you’re just tired of spending all of the money on cigarettes. Whatever your reason is, you need to understand exactly what is motivating you to make this major change.
Some of the most common reasons include:
- Feeling healthier immediately
- Feeling healthier in the long term
- Being proud of yourself for your accomplishment of quitting
- Avoiding exposing others to secondhand smoke
Once you’ve decided on your specific reason, write it down so you can refer to it when you feel like you need to smoke.
Decide How You’ll Handle Temptation Before it Happens
You probably have a few “smoking triggers” that make you feel like you need a cigarette. In these times, it’s important to have strategies to overcome temptation. Triggers can include feelings like being stressed, depressed or lonely. They can also be certain activities like talking on the phone, watching television or driving to work.
Prepare ahead of time by identifying your biggest triggers. Figure out strategies that you can use in these moments to get over the temptation. For example, if you normally have a cigarette after dinner, spend some time during that hour with your loved ones or take a short walk to get your mind off of smoking.
Adjust Your Mindset
If you feel like you need more will power to quit smoking, you probably have some beliefs and thoughts that need adjusting. For example, if you think “I need a cigarette to take these cravings away” you’re going to end up having a cigarette. Instead think about how your cravings will get lower and lower each day. Congratulate yourself for quitting and do something else.
The same goes for the thoughts and the feelings you may have if you slip up and have a cigarette. If you immediately start beating yourself up and thinking “I ruined it! I might as well keep smoking,” you’re going to end up right where you were to begin with. Instead, forgive yourself and remember that it’s normal to make mistakes as you learn new habits.
The more you adjust your mindset – the greater your will power will be. Keep thinking positively about your healthy new lifestyle and it will be easier to maintain.
Get Support From Your Doctor
Your physician has probably been telling you to quit for years, so now it’s time to ask for his or her support. Ask your doctor about medication options or other types of smoking cessation tools. There are also several different prescription medications that can help reduce cravings and make it easier to quit – from nicotine gum to prescription medication.
Your doctor can also make recommendations for therapy and counseling if you feel like you need emotional support during your transition to a smoke-free life. Individual counseling or group therapy can help you deal with the feelings associated with quitting.
In addition to the tools above, there are also several online resources that will help you quit:
Women.smokefree.gov has many resources geared to helping women quit smoking.
Quitnet offers dozens of resources and a supportive community forum where you can connect with others who have successfully quit.
Freedom From Smoking from the American Lung Association offers an online course to help you quit.
Florida Health Care Plans Quit Smoking Resources – Resources and tools to help members kick the habit.