Whether you're a teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be tough. But with the right game plan tailored to your needs, you can replace your smoking habits, manage your cravings, and join the millions of people who have kicked the habit for good.
Why quitting can seem so hard
Relieving unpleasant and overwhelming feelings without cigarettesSmoking tobacco is both a psychological habit and a physical addiction. The act of smoking is ingrained as a daily ritual and, at the same time, the nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary, and addictive, high. Eliminating that regular fix of nicotine will cause your body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. To successfully quit smoking, you’ll need to address both the habit and the addiction by changing your behavior and dealing with nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Managing unpleasant feelings such as stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety are some of the most common reasons why adults smoke. When you have a bad day, it can seem like cigarettes are your only friend. Smoking can temporarily make feelings such as sadness, stress, anxiety, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air. As much comfort as cigarettes provide, though, it’s important to remember that there are healthier (and more effective) ways to keep unpleasant feelings in check. These may include exercising, meditating, using sensory relaxation strategies, and practicing simple breathing exercises.
For many people, an important aspect of quitting smoking is to find alternate ways to handle these difficult feelings without smoking. Even when cigarettes are no longer a part of your life, the painful and unpleasant feelings that may have prompted you to smoke in the past will still remain. So, it’s worth spending some time thinking about the different ways you intend to deal with stressful situations and the daily irritations that would normally have you reaching for a cigarette.
Ways to create your personal stop smoking plan
Questions to ask yourself
To successfully detach from smoking, you will need to identify and address your smoking habits, the true nature of your dependency, and the techniques that work for you. These types of questions can help:
- Do you feel the need to smoke at every meal?
- Are you more of a social smoker?
- Is it a very bad addiction (more than a pack a day)? Or would a simple nicotine patch do the job?
- Is your cigarette smoking linked to other addictions, such as alcohol or gambling?
- Are you open to hypnotherapy and/or acupuncture?
- Are you someone who is open to talking about your addiction with a therapist or counselor?
- Are you interested in getting into a fitness program?
Take the time to think of what kind of smoker you are, which moments of your life call for a cigarette, and why. This will help you to identify which tips, techniques or therapies may be most beneficial for you.
Start your stop smoking plan with START
S = Set a quit date.
T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.
A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you'll face while quitting.
R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work.
T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.
How to quit smoking and manage cravings
After quitting, you may feel dizzy, restless, or even have strong headaches because you’re lacking the immediate release of sugar that comes from nicotine. You may also have a bigger appetite. These sugar-related cravings should only last a few days until your body adjusts so keep your sugar levels a bit higher than usual on those days by drinking plenty of juice (unless you’re a diabetic). It will help prevent the craving symptoms and help your body re-adjust back to normal.
Tips for managing other cigarette cravings
Cravings associated with meals
For some smokers, ending a meal means lighting up, and the prospect of giving that up may appear daunting. TIP: replace that moment after a meal with something such as a piece of fruit, a (healthy) dessert, a square of chocolate, or a stick of gum.
Alcohol and cigarettes
Many people have a habit of smoking when they have an alcoholic drink. TIP: try non-alcoholic drinks, or try drinking only in places where smoking inside is prohibited. Or try snacking on nuts and chips, or chewing on a straw or cocktail stick.
Cravings associated with social smoking
When friends, family, and co-workers smoke around you, it is doubly difficult to quit or avoid relapse. TIP: Your social circles need to know that you are changing your habits so talk about your decision to quit. Let them know they won’t be able to smoke when you’re in the car with them or taking a coffee break together.
In your workplace, don’t take all your coffee breaks with smokers only, do something else instead, or find non-smokers to have your breaks with.