Tips to Quit Smoking for a Healthier You
Many of us know that quitting smoking can help us to be healthier, but it’s so much easier said than done. Smoking is kind of like a friend who has always been there during sad times, stressful times, and even happy times! The trouble is, smoking is a friend with a lot of bad qualities, too - this friend makes us spend money, and it feels hard to cut ties even though we know they’re bad for us. Quitting smoking is hard, but with the right tools and preparation, you can free yourself from the habit. A healthier you is possible!
Why it’s so hard to quit
Smoking is linked with so many of our daily activities. We wake up, we smoke. We drink coffee, we smoke. We take a break, we smoke. On the drive to work, we smoke - on and on! These things that remind us of smoking are called triggers. I often recommend writing a list of your triggers before you quit smoking. That way you know what the hardest times of the day will be, and you can create a plan to cope.
What to do about it
During a quit period, it’s helpful to either avoid each trigger completely, alter each triggering situation in some way, or use a substitute. So, say one of your triggers is: every morning you drink coffee on your front porch. You can avoid the trigger completely by drinking tea instead of coffee. You can alter the situation so that you are drinking your coffee inside, where you aren’t allowed to smoke (or maybe go to a coffee shop). Or, you can use a substitute. Many people choose lollipops, gum, or keeping their hands busy with a game or activity.
Quit smoking tips for a healthier you
When I was a quit smoking counselor, I recommended that my clients try the following:
- Studies show that if you pick a date and stick to it, you’ll be more successful! Pick a date and commit to it.
- Before that date, tell your friends and family that you will be quitting. Having support from your loved ones can be so helpful.
- Try to stop drinking alcohol, at least for a little bit. Alcohol is one of the hardest triggers to beat. Avoiding it completely is probably for the best!
- Calculate how much money you will save by quitting smoking. Think of small rewards you can give yourself with the money that you save. These rewards could be a small treat at the end of your day, a pedicure each week, a new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing, or even planning a vacation.
- Some people take up new habits during their quit periods. Long walks, yoga, deep breathing, reading or other relaxing activities can help you stay calm and grounded.
- Instead of thinking “I can’t smoke,” think about what you can or will be able to do. When you quit, you will gain more money, you will be able to breathe better, you will feel healthier, and you will no longer be tethered to a habit that’s bad for you.
- If you slip up and smoke, that’s ok! Everyone makes mistakes. Quitting smoking is really hard, and even just trying to quit is a big deal. If you end up smoking, remind yourself of how far you have come, and commit to continuing on your quitting journey. Keep trying. Eventually, it will stick!
- If your doctor gives you the okay, try a nicotine replacement therapy. Many people find their withdrawal is easier to deal with when using the gum or a patch.
- Go easy on yourself. You might not feel at your best for the first few weeks. Many people feel cranky, tired, or have a cough. The good news is these things are temporary, and in no time, they will be a distant memory! You can do it!
Find more quit smoking resources at www.smokefree.gov.