Kicking the habit. One smoke-free day at a time.

woman breaking a cigarette

One of the things I’m not particularly proud of is that I used to smoke. Mostly because it was so easy to pick up and extremely hard to kick. I made a New Year’s resolution bet one year that I would quit smoking and by December of that year, I finally started to try. It was the third time I had tried to stop. I quit cold turkey that time. I guess I don’t like to lose a bet! I’ll be honest; the urge to light up is going to be with you for a while after you’ve given up smoking.

Small urges may crop up for the rest of your life, so you’re going to have to learn to deal with them. If you’re ready to quit, here are some tips to get you through the short-term and longer-term.

Getting through the short-term
Don’t look far ahead when you’re starting to quit. Break your day into sections and concentrate on getting through a few hours at a time without smoking. When you get through one section successfully, move to the next one.

For the first month, I rewarded myself for making it through a few hours and then for a full day for the next couple of months.

Getting through the urges

Cheerful young friends having fun in a cafe
You should know what situations trigger your craving to smoke, for example, coffee, alcohol, after eating, or social situations.  All of the above were my triggers! Try to avoid these situations. Sometimes you can completely avoid it, but for the most part, you’ll have to change your behavior. These are just a few examples of how to change your routine.

Filling the void
You’re going to feel like something’s missing once you stop smoking. Try keeping your hands busy. For the longest time, I held on to my last pack of cigarettes. It was empty, but I kept it with me every day for months. Every time I had an urge to smoke, I squeezed the pack. For some reason, it made me feel better.
Find something that would work for you.

  • Some people grab a healthy snack like carrot sticks
  • Occupy your free time with things that don’t give you an opportunity to smoke. Exercising, painting, writing, cleaning or cooking are some examples that can keep your hands and mind busy.
  • If you start getting stressed, do something to help you relax. Try deep breathing or pretend you’re on a beach, in the woods or the mountains – anywhere you love. 

These are just a few things you can do to make it through the day. You will find the techniques that will work to get you through the rough patches.

Outside support
Some people can stop smoking without outside help. But most people need some support.  I was able to quit eventually on my own, but I had previously tried nicotine patches and gum. They didn’t work for me but worked for a friend. I know someone who successfully quit smoking with acupuncture. One friend is trying to wean himself off of cigarettes using e-cigarettes.

Some resources you can look into include:

Smoking_2

  • Check online for support groups in your area.
  • Organizations dedicated to heart and lung health have a lot of information to assist in quitting, e.g. Cancer Societies and Lung Associations.
  • Hospitals, clinics, universities and pharmacies often have stop-smoking programs.

Talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional to help you find healthy and appropriate ways for you to quit smoking.

Good luck if you decide to make this healthy lifestyle choice! It’s worth the effort.