Quitting smoking is difficult, especially in the first few days. Physical and psychological withdrawals hit hard at this time and cravings and urges to smoke are strong. When a craving to smoke occurs, action needs to be taken. The choices are endless, but here are three of the best tried and true crave busters.
Drinking water is a great crave buster. Hand-to-mouth is a habit that's hard to break and water is a good choice for an oral substitute. Not only does water give you something to do with your hands, it’s also filling, reduces your appetite and has zero calories. Water is not a beverage that is usually associated with smoking, so it will unlikely trigger the same response as a cup of coffee or a beer. Staying well-hydrated is important in keeping your body healthy. Water removes the toxins from your body and helps with the healing process after quitting smoking. Reaching for that glass of water to quell a craving will help prevent constipation, which at times accompanies quitting smoking. If you don’t like the taste of water, try jazzing it up with a slice of lemon, lime, fresh fruit. When a craving to smoke hits, drink up and enjoy the benefits water offers.
Cravings to smoke often pop up when feeling stressed. Life stressors run the gamut, from issues with family, finance and health to the daily annoyances of traffic jams and waiting in grocery store lines. In the past, smoking may have been how you handled the stress in your life. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to manage cravings to smoke and stress. Now you can take a deep breath without inhaling the poisons in cigarette smoke. As you deep breathe, visualize yourself in a peaceful, soothing place where you can totally relax, escaping for a few moments. Repeating a personal slogan to yourself ‘Smoking is not an option’ while taking the deep breaths will reaffirm your decision to quit.
Take some time to practice deep breathing exercises. Begin deep breathing from the diaphragm, rather than the chest, by getting comfortable lying on the bed, floor or reclining in a chair. Begin by placing a hand on your stomach and breathing in slowly, through the nose while mentally counting to five. When you are inhaling picture the air going down into your stomach until it’s totally inhaled (you should feel your stomach rise up where your hand is placed). Now slowly exhale through your mouth for the count of five and picture the air emptying out of your stomach until it’s totally expelled (you should feel your hand on your stomach go down). Repeat this ten times during practice and you should feel stress and anxiety symptoms decrease. Taking a deep breath to get you through a craving will get you to the other side more relaxed.
Getting physical and moving helps distract from the cravings to smoke and reduces the intensity of the cravings. Quick and easy exercises that you can do in spurts when a craving appears work well. Knee bends, lunges, going up and down the stairs, or sitting in a chair alternately relaxing and tensing your muscles are exercise that can be done at home or work when time and space is limited. Even just getting up and walking around for a few minutes will help. Choose an activity you will enjoy, whether it be yoga, dancing, biking or swimming -- any activity that has you moving will do. Both high and low impact exercises increase your endorphin levels, which makes you feel good, more alert and energized. Physical activity helps reduce stress and tension. Not only does exercise help you deal with the physical and psychological cravings of nicotine addiction, but it’s also a major player in managing the weight gain associated with quitting smoking. Consult your doctor before starting an exercise program if you have a sedentary lifestyle or any medical problems. Daily exercise will improve your mood, lung function and stamina. Using exercise to handle your cravings to smoke will keep you fit and healthy.
Keep Going and KTQ!
Quit with us!
Support from family and friends can be very helpful when you're going through the quitting process. Words of encouragement can spur on progress and keep the focus on the positive. It’s motivating knowing that your family/friends will stick by your side during the uncomfortable times, especially in the early days of your quit.
That being said, family and friends may also unintentionally do and say things that make it more difficult for you to quit, actually doing more harm than help. It’s usually not that family and friends want to roadblock your quit, but rather that they just don’t understand how difficult quitting can be. They may see only the irritable, depressed, and unpleasant person you have become, not realizing you are going through withdrawal and perhaps battling one huge crave after another.
The way to remedy this problem is through discussion. Start by explaining to family and friends how important their support will be in helping you quit for good. Let these people know the reasons why quitting is so important to you. Let them know quitting may be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. Educate family members or friends who have never smoked on the addictiveness of nicotine and how withdrawal causes unpleasant side effects, such as anxiety, irritability, lack of concentration, depression, etc. Remind your family and friends these are normal but temporary quit symptoms.
If you have family or friends who still smoke, ask them if they have ever tried to quit, and if so, what were their experiences? They may have helpful advice. Make a list and think about ways your family and friends can be helpful in supporting your quit. If you live with a smoker ask them not to leave their tobacco products in sight and to smoke out doors and out of view. If needed, remind them that being around people smoking or seeing cigarettes, lighters, etc., are strong triggers to smoke. Tell them under no circumstances are they to offer you a cigarette. Your family and friends are the people in your life who care about you, so an honest and heartfelt request will more likely than not get you the needed support.
You may be a former smoker or a nonsmoker wondering how you can be supportive in helping a family member or friend who is quitting tobacco. You can begin by asking the quitter what they feel would be most helpful and honor their request. If you are a former smoker it may be helpful to share your past experiences; just respect that the quitter may be using a different quit plan. If the quitter is irritable or moody, it’s due to nicotine withdrawal, not a personal feeling towards you; withdrawal symptoms are temporary. Be available to listen to any concerns they may have about quitting. It's better to talk it out versus smoke it out.
Offer to do activities with the quitter that help distract from cravings, such as going to the gym, for a walk, to the movies, a museum, etc. Be in the quitter’s corner by picking up the slack at home when the stress of quitting is getting to them. Offer any needed help to lighten the load. Continue to encourage the quitter, even if the quitter backslides.
Quitting successfully takes many attempts. Each one is an opportunity to learn and move forward to success. Don't forget to praise your family/friend's quit milestones; whether it be one month or two years, all are cause to celebrate!
Keep coming back, and KTQ!
Next week:Joining a Support Group or Smoking Cessation Program
You can quit smoking successfully, and we can help:
Welcome to the this week's installment of QMember Stories, which features Kallikak - who celebrates a nearly 7-year quit!
"I smoked 35 years total, interrupted by several earlier quits. I’m not sure that any of us keep track of the number of attempts, once it gets beyond “several”.
"The worst thing about my smoking was that I had no control over my addiction, and that I knew it was killing me. No one in my family, or my extended family, smokes. I was the only addict. They were very tactful about it, but it was clear that they all wanted me to quit. The final straw was an angina attack in July 2006. I instantly became a quitter at that moment.
"I'd first found QuitNet the year before, in January of 2005, after an off-hand remark from someone (probably one of those relatives above) that there probably would be resources online to help with quitting. I did a Google search, and the rest is history.
"I quit on January 1st of that year, and the Q became my lifeline, a lifesaver. A couple dozen of us formed a club in January 2005, and we called it something really clever, like 'Jan2005 Quitters'. We shared a monumental goal, and we all started at the same time. I’ve never seen support like that, but I’m guessing that many clubs here have that magic about them. I’ll never forget the first time a new quitter responded to one of my posts that I had been an inspiration. Whoa, talk about a rush!
"I had 10 months on my quitmeter when I was laid off from a long-time job. That triggered my addiction. I began smoking again, and didn’t stop until the angina attack in July 2006. I've been smoke-free since then.
"In my 2005 semi-final quit, I used the patches, and they worked very well. This final time, I quit cold turkey when I had the angina attack. That served as a clue that I am mortal; that I will not escape the consequences of smoking if I don’t quit. In the early days, my inspiration came most strongly from the Q; it was like being in an intensive care unit.
"I have two outstanding suggestions for anyone thinking about quitting smoking: First, make a list of what smoking was doing to your life, and the reasons you quit; and second, take your quit 'one crave at a time'. Just take care of the next one, and don’t worry about the one after that.
"If you come on to the Q, you can call me Bill. My username is Kallikak - a tribute to a family that was the subject of a study by H.H. Goddard, an early 20th century psychologist who thought he could tell if you were feeble minded just by looking at you; he also gave us the word `moron`!"
Keep coming back, and KTQ,
When we're planning to quit smoking, it can be helpful to think back on our smoking history, to learn from our own journey and experiences. How did we start smoking, and why? How long did it take for us to become addicted, or daily users? How have we tried to quit before, and why? What worked, or didn't? What did we like or dislike about being ex-smokers? How did we end up back on the death sticks again? What's different about this quit?
Sometimes it's enlightening, even fun, to tell our smoking story to someone else. In my next series of blogs, I'm going to write about my own descent into tobacco addiction, and my long, tortured rise out of it into smoke-free living. Hopefully both you and I will learn a thing or two, or at least be able to relate to each other better as we help each other stay quit.
Most smokers start smoking before the age of 18. I was no exception. In fact, smoking imagery was such a part of our culture that I remember pretending to smoke even as a four year old. My aunts and uncles thought that was cute, and from time to time handed me lit cigarettes to hold, just for laughs.
By elementary school, me and my friends were already stealing death sticks from adults (though none of us had the courage to actually light them). I remember being repulsed by the smell of them, unlit, but that didn't matter. All my heroes smoked in those days, and every TV show and movie showed folks puffing away, usually in situations of high stress or emotional drama. Cigarette smoke didn't just look cool, it solved problems, too. And tobacco was heavily advertised in all media, often with bogus claims from doctors about the health benefits of smoking!
The first time I remember deliberately breathing smoke into my lungs was in the sixth grade. My buddy Tom had swiped his brother's Zippo lighter and some lunch school milk straws still in their paper wrappers. We held the straws as if they were cigarettes, and practiced lighting them for each other and ourselves. They burned up pretty quickly, of course, being milk straws, but we managed to take in some heavy puffs of paper smoke into our young lungs. As we hacked and gagged, Tom's brother Larry came to investigate. "You stupid idiots," he barked. "Why don't you just stick your head in the burning barrel and breathe it in!" (I grew up on a farm in the rural Midwest; in those days we disposed of our own trash in large burning barrels, every Thursday night). We were embarrassed, and not feeling so hot, either.
I attended our country church school through grade school, and went to a seminary prep high school for two years after that. Smoking was considered a mortal sin by my religion, and punishments for being caught doing it were severe. So I was never exposed to tobacco smoke until I switched to the local public school in my junior year. Being the new kid in a small town, I was desperate to fit in, to be accepted by the other kids. Most of them smoked openly, and repeatedly urged me to join them. I was hesitant, remembering the smoking straws caper from years back and not really liking the smell of cigarettes anyway. But I also wanted the other kids' approval...
They say if you hang around in a barber shop long enough, you'll end up with a haircut. The day came when I could no longer refuse my peers' challenge to smoke. It all went down in the back of the yellow school bus, riding from school to the farm on a warm, sunny summer day. Some boy called me a sissy for not accepting his cigarette, and taunted me in front of a girl I liked.. I grabbed his lit cigarette and took a couple of big pulls. I don't know why I didn't explode into a coughing fit, but I was able to maintain for the next several minutes until we reached my stop.
As soon as I was off the bus, I dashed to the milk shed (where no one could see me) and vomited until I was dry heaving. Then I staggered up the driveway to the house, and collapsed into my bed. The room spun around me, and I swore I'd never smoke again. I have rarely been that ill since.
Next time: Faking it till I 'made it'...
Alan P, MTTS
There are some misconceptions about quit support products, specifically surrounding the ‘support’ part! Take Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) for example. As tobacco treatment specialists, we sometimes hear "My NRT is not working". Let's look at the role NRT plays for a basic overview of what to expect. NRT does not make you quit smoking. It does not remove the habitual want to smoke, or the emotional need to smoke. NRT does not eliminate withdrawal symptoms, nor does it prevent the detox process from occurring.
So what does NRT do? It takes the edge off cravings so you can focus on breaking your lifelong habitual, behavioral and emotional attachment to the daily ritual of smoking. NRT supports your efforts by reducing the physical cravings and withdrawal symptoms so you are more likely to stick with the quit process long enough to succeed.
NRT is not designed to match your smoking habit nicotine consumption milligram for milligram, but rather to reduce cravings by delivering a slow, steady dose of nicotine in your system based on the average amount of cigarettes you smoked prior to your quit date. This slow, steady dosing avoids the rapid and addictive 'rush/crash/crave' cycle that smoking provides (and makes quitting so difficult). NRT helps by lessening the intensity of physical withdrawal symptoms. Physical withdrawals will still occur as your body detoxes, heals and adjusts after years of inhaling toxic, chemical filled smoke, tar and gasses into your lungs and throughout your entire system. Nicotine is just one of the many thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke.
NRT is advised to be used for at least the first 8 weeks of your quit while stepping down gradually. Stepping down as directed ensures minimal cravings and maximum quit support. Why 8 weeks? Research shows it takes a good 8 weeks of practicing new behaviors, habits and coping tools to learn a new habit, such as being a nonsmoker! Doing so with overwhelming physical cravings often leads to relapse before any of the learning new behaviors or habit breaking part takes place. Nicotine and temporary cravings are a small part of the Big Picture. Long term quit success comes from having 8 weeks of practice and actively working to learn new behaviors and coping tools, not from 'using NRT'. The Quitter must actively work their quit process in order for NRT support to be most effective.
So, how do you work your quit process? Start by identifying your top 3 tobacco triggers. Then, come up with effective new coping tools that will work for You. This is where you want to put your time, energy and focus during the next 8 weeks you have NRT support. Practice getting through stress, boredom, relationships, disappointments and day to day life situations without using tobacco. Practicing new coping tools ensures your quit process gets easier as time goes by. No amount of NRT can do this particular part of the quit, which is a good thing! It forces the newly quit to start really thinking about living their day to day lives without a cigarette. In each of those moments where you choose to do something else instead of smoke, you will be laying the foundation for becoming a nonsmoker.
The key to success is to let NRT do it's job by using it correctly as directed, while you do your job - actively work your quit process! Along the way, you'll discover lots of new things to do as you enjoy your healthy, smoke free lifestyle.
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Don't quit alone! We can help:
You've been quit for awhile and feeling pretty confident that you're over the hump. You rarely think about smoking, and can easily say no to the idea of lighting up a death stick. That is, until today. Suddenly it seems like a good idea to have 'just one', and you have a knot of fear in your belly because of it. What the heck happened between yesterday and today? How did you lose all that resolve? Where did things go wrong?
The truth is there's probably nothing wrong. Some days are harder than others, or like my father used to say, "Some days you eat the bear; some days the bear eats you." The fact that your feelings or perspective about your quit have shifted doesn't necessarily mean your resolve has, too. Do you quit your job every time you feel like sleeping in, or break up with your partner every time they annoy you? We can't always be confident and strong in our quits; in fact, part of our success is learning to stay the course when our emotional scenery changes. Base your quit on fundamental concepts and principles, and accept that your feelings may change from time to time.
Here are some of the recovery principles I've built my own 21-year quit upon. Not all may resonate with you, so Take What You Need And Leave The Rest (that's the first principle of all):
Quitting Is A Process, Not An Event. You've initiated a process of change, and that's going to be happening for a long time. Roll with it.
Smoking Thoughts Are Not Commands. They're just thoughts, perfectly natural in the minds of those who have smoked for years. If we don't act on them, they'll eventually go away. Remember that it's impossible for you to relapse without your permission -- no power in the universe can force you to choose smoking.
You Are Not Alone. If you're thinking you might trip up, log onto www.quitnet.com and talk to another ex-smoker. Ask them what they do at times like this. Don't underestimate the powerful potential for change inherent in simply discussing your quit with other ex-smokers. It can be fun, too, and lead to rewarding relationships.
You Only Have To Stay Quit For Today. Yesterday is already in your success files, and tomorrow never comes. Today is the only day you'll ever have, and the only day you'll ever have to not smoke in.
You Make Your Own Odds. If your quit is your #1 priority today, if you're willing to do whatever it takes to not smoke today, your odds of success today are 100%. Keep The Quit #1, and you'll keep your quit.
You Don't Have to Quit Perfectly. As long as 51% of your smoke-free mind wants to stay quit, it doesn't matter that 48% of it may not want to -- that 2% difference is all that's needed. Few of us were certain that we wanted to quit at first; the certainty can often come long after our quit-dates, and disappear completely sometimes.
Quitting Smoking Is Only The Beginning. Be ready for recovery on multiple levels. Addictions are physical, mental, emotional and behavioral, and require some treatment in all areas. Ingrained habits and routines, thought patterns and physical responses need time and effort to change (that's where a support network, no matter how large or small, comes into the picture). Sometimes that change will be uncomfortable, but that discomfort will be your proof that you're on the right track.
Don't Listen to the Lie. Beware that little voice telling you that quitting is too hard, or not worth the effort. Believing that voice is how we all got into this pickle in the first place.
You Get Out Of Your Quit What You Put Into It. Every action you take in favor of your quit is 'money in the quit-bank' when you need it. And on days like this, you'll be glad you've been investing in your quit. Tonight, when you lay your smoke-free head on the pillow, you'll be a success -- no matter how you feel about it.
Alan P, CTTS-M
There are many things that might be considered romantic in life. A picnic for two by the lake. Walking along the beach at sunset. A candlelit dinner. Smoking, however, should should not be one of them. And yet, it isn't uncommon for ex-smokers to find themselves reminiscing about the “good old days” of smoking.
- What would it be like to have just one puff again?
- I really loved smoking.
- Things were better when I smoked.
- I miss smoking.
- Smoking isn't really that bad.
- I can always quit again...tomorrow.
Recognize this self-talk for what it is: romancing the cigarette. Romancing the cigarette means that despite all the bad things there is to say about cigarettes (and despite all the reasons you decided to quit in the first place), you find reasons to go back to smoking. There is nothing romantic about smoking. In fact the opposite is true. Smoking should be considered bad romance! Cigarettes will lie to you. Just one won’t hurt. Cigarettes will control you. When is it time for the next smoke break? Cigarettes will lead you to put it above your own comfort and welfare. Time to stand out in the rain/cold for my nicotine fix. And cigarettes will make you do things you normally would not do. I think I will buy the carton of cigarettes over milk and groceries.
Romantic notions of smoking are false. Tobacco addiction leads you to believe that all those fond memories--smoking on camping trips, late night chats with friends, mingling at parties, etc.--were due to that cigarette, but they weren't. If you went back through all of your happy memories, you would find that the true joy came from the people you spent time with, the activities you were doing, and the places you were visiting. Cigarettes only served one purpose during these times: to perpetuate the addiction. You may have associated your good times with smoking, but smoking was never the source of your enjoyment.
Re-learning how to enjoy life without cigarettes might be hard to imagine, or even scary at first. You probabably spent several years smoking; becoming an ex-smoker won't happen overnight. And whether you realize it or not, smoking was integrated into every part of your life (from first thing in the morning when you get up to the last thing you do before going to bed) and was used as a coping strategy for anger, sadness, stress, boredom, anxiety and other emotions. Undoing the relationship with cigarettes in your life will take some time and practice. It can be done!
Start with re-visiting your reasons for quitting. If they aren't "compelling" enough, go back and make them more specific and personal to you. So for example, if one of your reasons for quitting smoking was for improved health, a better reason to quit smoking might be to train and run your first 5K. Or to be able to climb a flight of stairs without getting short of breath. Or to have energy to be able to play with your children/grandchildren. Bolster those reasons for quitting by letting others in the community know you are re-committing to your quit!!!
Move away from romancing the cigarettes, by making new memories; ones without cigarettes! Take it one moment at a time. Like any bad relationship, it is normal to wonder, “What if….” Catch yourself when your thoughts go down that road. Quitting is like getting out of a bad relationship. You’ve ended the abuse on your body and your mind. Acknowledge there may have been some things you got out of that relationship with smoking. But that was then; this is now. Move forward with your life, smoke-free.
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Times change and life moves forward. Few things are the same for us as they were back in the day. Many smokers grew up smoking. At a young age, we were drawn to a glamourized perception of smoking. Maybe we thought it looked masculine, sexy or rebellious. Maybe we wanted to be cool or important, or part of the 'in crowd'. Perhaps it made us feel exotic, independent, edgy or grown up. With cigarette in hand, we were no longer shy or boring, uncomfortable or lonely - we were smokers!
When we needed a break, we smoked. Angry, sad, mad, tired, in trouble, needed a friend – we smoked! There were always smokers hanging around to listen, feel our pain and keep us company. Smokers understood us, were there for us and supported us. Relationships were forged over the common bond of smoking.
Years and years of smoking followed; through marriages, jobs, kids, joy, change, disappointment and day to day life – all experienced via the porch, kitchen table, favorite chair or parking lot with a cigarette.
Fast forward to today... smoking is not considered rebellious or cool anymore. In fact, it is frowned upon by many and illegal in most places! Everyone knows Cigarettes Kill. They kill you, your children, your pets, your friends, your family and future. They kill opportunity. You may not get that apartment, job, insurance policy or date if you are smoker. Of course, you know things have changed since your youthful choice to start smoking, and you really do want to stop.
But you are a smoker! How do you let go of who you are? What about your special lighter, that crystal ashtray your mom gave you, your favorite brand that has been in your pocket or purse for the last 20 years – how do you just stop being you? And what about your smoking friends? Will you lose them? What will they think of you? Will you even be you anymore?
Truthfully, smoking was never ‘who you were’, but rather 'something you did'. You have done lots of things differently since then, and stopped doing many things from your youth. (Hopefully the mullet, snakeskin boots or shoulder pads are long gone?) And yet, here you are and you are still you! You will do lots of new things as your life moves forward. You are not only still you, but reveal the Real You when you courageously let go of the old habits and patterns that no longer serve you. Smoking no longer serves you! Only by letting go and embracing the gift of change can you move forward to your best possible future.
Celebrate your quit. Let go of the past and make room for some new things to come to you that really are cool – like feeling great or having more energy, time and money to enjoy, living longer and breathing deeply as you move about the day. That is all about you, and you deserve it!
Every long term smoker goes through the ‘Letting go of the old me’ process during their quit. As you go through this process, you are actually 'becoming a nonsmoker' and as a result, will find your quit gets easier and easier as time goes by. You will come to think about things differently. Instead of thinking "I am stressed, I need a smoke" you will think "I am stressed, I’d like to go for a walk/call a friend/make tea." You will learn new ways of coping with old habits and triggers that are healthier than smoking. You will gain confidence and have a sense of pride and accomplishment.
As you let go of your old attachment to being a smoker, you will welcome in a new indentity that is healthier, happier and cooler than ever before :)
Keep going and KTQ!
Vikki Chavez CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Although some of us quit smoking on the first try, most of us have made more than one attempt. That's not necessarily a bad thing; each attempt taught us something valuable about staying quit. In fact, the more times we've 'failed' at quitting in the past, the better our odds of succeeding this time.
One reason many of us make so many quit-attempts is that we don't always have the motivation to quit, or to maintain our quits afterward. Most smokers first consider quitting because of external motivators--the pleas of spouses or loved ones, health scares, smoke-free workplaces or financial incentives by our employers, or increases in cigarette or insurance costs.
Many of us grudgingly agree to quit smoking to satisfy others, but don't really have compelling reasons of our own to do so. For us to have the best shot at quitting and staying quit, it helps if quitting is our idea. Just how do we make it so?
Some simple exercises can help to move us in that direction, at any time before or after our actual quit-day. Ask yourself:
- On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the highest), how much do I really want to quit right now? What would need to change for me to raise that number a couple of notches? Is that a change I can work on?
- Using the same scale, how confident am I that I could quit right now? What would need to change for me to raise that number a couple of notches? Is that a change I can work on?
Next, a set of pros/cons questions can help clarify what we really think about our smoking. Ask yourself:
- What do I like about smoking? (is it a welcome break from work, a reward, or time spent with friends?)
- What don't I like about smoking? (the smell, coughing, the hassle of smoking publicly, the health risks?)
- Do the negatives outweight the positives?
- Are there healthier replacements for the things I like about smoking?
Next, a sort of Cost/Benefit Analysis will help uncover fears and other obstacles to quit-motivation. Ask yourself:
- If I continue to smoke, what's the worst thing that could happen to me? What's the best thing that could happen?
- If I quit smoking, what's the worst thing that could happen to me? What's the best that could happen?
- Does the best or worst weigh most in my analysis?
Imagining a Smoke-free Life
Finally, an effective way of making quitting your idea is to imagine all the possible advantages of quitting, and to focus on them. A dramatic improvement in health is one possibility, as is a longer life. But there are other benefits, as well. You could look younger, with fewer wrinkles, softer skin, and shinier hair. You might save a lot of money that would have gone up in smoke, or been spent on treating tobacco-related illness. You could have more stamina and endurance, sleep better, enjoy more tastes and smells, have whiter teeth, increase your self respect, be a better role-model for your children and grandchildren, save your loved ones from second or thirdhand smoke--the list of great reasons to quit smoking is potentially endless.
- What are five good reasons for me to quit smoking?
- What are my three best reasons to quit smoking? Note: Record My Three Best Reasons, and keep that list for handy reference in your phone, wallet or purse.
Motivation isn't something we can turn on and off like a light switch, but once we set our brains in motion solving a problem (like smoking), they inevitably move us toward a solution (quitting). The process may take a day, month, or a year, but as long as we're contrasting and comparing our old ways to the new way, our old desires to the new ones, our smoking life to a smoke free life, our odds of developing the motivation to get us there are greatly increased.
Good luck, and don't forget to visit the Q for more education and support.
Alan P, CTTS-M
I could quit smoking if only I had more willpower….
Quitting smoking is more than just a matter of willpower. Nicotine addiction works not only on a physical level, but on emotional and behavioral ones as well. Nicotine is—without a doubt—one of the hardest addictions to overcome. So what makes nicotine so addictive?
- It only takes 7 seconds after that first puff for nicotine to "hit" the brain.
- It is rapidly metabolized by the body. This is why most people have to smoke every few hours to maintain nicotine levels in the blood.
- It is legal.
- It is readily available, and can be purchased almost everywhere.
- It is socially acceptable, although this is changing.
- It is deeply embedded in our daily lives (from getting up, to a smoke with coffee, to driving to work, to smoke breaks, to socializing, to after dinner, to relaxation/de-stress, etc).
For these reasons (and more), it's important to create a quit plan that addresses the many facets of nicotine addiction. The first place to start might be to use an FDA-approved quit medication (i.e. nicotine replacement therapy, Chantix, Zyban), as these medications can help take the edge off withdrawal symptoms so that you can focus on the behavioral and emotional components of quitting.
Next, develop effective coping strategies for emotions like stress, anger, sadness and anxiety. New ways of dealing with them include deep breathing, exercising, journaling, meditating, working on a hobby, playing a musical instrument, reading a book, listening to music, talking it out with a friend, playing with pets/grandchildren/kids, going for a walk, working in the yard or garden, etc. These new behaviors may not seem effective at first, but KEEP DOING THEM. They will become more effective with time and practice.
Last but not least, enlist in the support of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Connect with other folks who are quitting/have already quit either here at QuitNet or in the 3D world. Support is one of the most important factors in keeping a quit!
Remember that you didn't become a smoker overnight. It may take some time to get used to being a non-smoker again.
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist