Quitting smoking isn't easy, and at times your motivation can begin to lose steam. To ensure success you will need to power up your desire to stay quit.
REASONS FOR QUITTING
One way to boost your motivation is to review all the reasons you wanted to quit in the first place. Are those reasons and motivating factors still important to you? If not, then reevaluate and come up with a new list of valid reasons to quit smoking. Keep in mind that the more reasons you find to motivate yourself in favor of quitting the more likely you are to stay quit.
Make your reasons personal and specific. For example, instead of saying 'To feel healthier' you might say 'So I don't feel out of breath when I play with my children.' Think about the personal costs of smoking for you and those you love. Being a good role model and protecting your family from second hand smoke may pull at your heart strings. Imagine yourself five or ten years down the road if you quit; picture that same time period continuing to smoke and what do you see? Think about the consequences of continued smoking. Where do you want to be? Perhaps you are upset with the control cigarettes have over your life and you want to be free of the addiction. You can't leave out the spiraling cost of cigarettes today, either. With the money saved by not smoking, you could take a trip or pay a bill.
BENEFITS OF QUITTING
Acknowledging the short and long term benefits you receive from quitting smoking, and reframing your thinking to focus on the positive aspects of quitting, will help get you out of a motivational slump. Smoking is detrimental to every organ in your body. Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your overall health. Within minutes of your last cigarette your body begins to heal itself. In the first twenty minutes your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. There are other immediate benefits you become aware of right away, like fresher breath and clean smelling hair. The benefits of quitting get even better over time. Soon you may notice that your morning cough has disappeared, you can walk up the stairs and you are not out of breath, and the food you prepare smells and tastes good. Quitting helps improve self image and self esteem. You conquer an addiction, set a good example and take back control of your life. Your risks for smoking-related diseases decline and you get a chance to live a longer life. Focusing on the positive benefits of quitting will improve your motivation to move forward.
The more people you have cheering you on the better. This is especially helpful when you are going through a tough time and experiencing a lapse in motivation. Words of encouragement can spur you on and help you keep the focus on the positive. Involve yourself with others who are trying to quit smoking or have already quit. Most quitters have experienced dips in motivation; you can learn from them by listening to their stories. A great source of support can be found here on QuitNet, in the forums, clubs and chat. It's also important that you support yourself by recognizing your own quitting progress and the lifestyle changes you made to get to this point. Celebrate your quit milestones and reward yourself by buying something enjoyable with the money you have saved not smoking. Gathering support from others and acknowledging your quit success keeps you motivated and moving forward.
Keep Going and KTQ!
Quit With Us!
Welcome to this week's installment of QMember Stories, featuring JudM! Enjoy her story, in her own words:
I grew up in a smoking home. My parents smoked everywhere all the time. My mother smoked unfiltered Kools and Dad smoked Lucky Strikes.
I hated being around the smoke as a kid, but started smoking while at school in England in 1970, at the age of 20. How dumb is that? I really had to work at teaching myself how to smoke. I learned way too well.
I quit smoking several times, for a few months each time. One quit lasted almost 2 years. The 2 year quit began when I became pregnant with twins; I didn't smoke through the pregnancy and stayed smoke-free up until the twins were almost a year old.
All the time the boys were growing up, they and my husband wanted me to quit smoking, and repeatedly urged me to do so. I did have several short-lived quits over the years from 1981 to 2005 (when I first joined the Q). You're welcome to read my journal at QuitNet.com under my username, JudM. Many of my quit-attempts are journaled there.
My last quit date, the one I count from now, was November 21, 2009. I quit cold turkey, but believe that any way that you can quit is the right way for you. I did have one slip at 9 months into my quit, and almost relapsed back to being a full-time smoker. Thanks to several wonderful people here at the Q, a possible total loss of a quit was kept to just a slip. I actually realized during that slip that the only thing that could make me smoke was me. Sure, I could blame stress, or something a negative person said, but it was still my choice to smoke. In truth, once I made this quit mine -- quitting for me -- it became a lot easier.
Even so, it has been difficult to learn how to live without cigarettes. I have had many tears during my quit. I still seem to cry at the drop of a hat sometimes. What has helped me to get thru craves and stress is learning deep breathing techniques. The Expert QChats provide great help, too. And I enjoy the general chatrooms and all the fantastic people and information here on QuitNet.
What I like most about being quit is not smelling like an ashtray, and saving all those $$$ I used to spend on tobacco. By the fall of 2012, I'd saved enough money to buy a 2011 Dodge Caravan! I say thank you to the Q, and to all the great people here, for that.
You can find me at QuitNet by my user name, JudM. I'm in the chatroom a lot, and people there call Jud-Mud, because Jud is what I go by in 3-D Land (Jud being a nickname for Judith). I tell everyone it's pronounced 'mud', only with a J.
May you all find and have that forever quit you are looking for.
Welcome to this week's installment of QMember Stories, featuring Froglady - who just celebrated a 14 year quit she started at the Q in 1999!
"I smoked at least two packs plus a day for more than 42 years. I tried to quit smoking many, many, many times. But once I joined QuitNet I was successful the very first time, and knew that I had found my forever quit!
"The worst part about my smoking was that 99% of my friends and relatives did not smoke; how they tolerated me I will never know. But, the main reason (other than #1, health concerns) I quit is that I had just bought a brand new silver convertible sports car (little old lady trying to hold on to her youth!) and I vowed that I would never stink it up with foul smoke!
"When I decided to stop smoking I went online looking for a support group, and on July 1, 1999 I found QuitNet. I had never belonged to an online group before so my first stop was the chat room. I was actually still smoking at that time and I was amazed at the warm welcome I received. From that moment on I knew that I had found a new addiction to replace my smoking .... QuitNet. With the help and support of my new found friends, I set a quit date of July 26, 1999, and it has now been 14 over years for me without a single puff!
"I quit using Wellbutrin and the nicotine patch. I had never tried NRTs before and I think that is what made the difference. Some people are against NRTs, but I say do whatever works for you.
"Today, I have freedom, freedom, freedom from being tied to the end of a cigarette! But, the MOST significant change in my life was being invited to visit my brother and sister in law in San Francisco. Because I live in Miami , we didn't get to see each other very often, and while it was never discussed, I knew that I was not invited to visit because I was a smoker. When I quit, I got my first invitation in more than 30 years, became a frequent visitor, and had some wonderful times that I would not have had experienced otherwise if I were still smoking.
"Unfortunately, my brother, who was 7 years my junior and not a smoker, died very suddenly of a heart attack in November, 2010. I never expected that I would outlive him. This is another reason why I am so grateful to QuitNet -- for making it possible to spend so much more special time with him that I otherwise would have missed if I had continued to smoke. My trip to the West Coast for the funeral was surreal and I was in a complete daze, but it wasn't until I arrived home that I realized I had not thought once about having a cigarette. At that point, I knew that I would never go back to smoking again NO MATTER WHAT, and that I was done with cigarettes forever.
"Without a doubt, the most interesting and memorable experiences I have had on the Q was the chance to attend two QuitNet 3D Meets - one in Chicago in 2007 and the other in Seattle in 2008. I met over 100 Q members in person! Real people, and most of them just as nice and caring in person as they were online! I can also remember my worst experience as a smoker -- when I had just started a new job and one of the benefits was a company car......that I promptly set on fire when I threw a cigarette out of the window and it blew back in and landed in the back seat. And, no, I wasn't fired! (pun intended)
"I suggest you use the tools offered to you. For me, the chat room was a place where I literally lived for the first few months of my quit. By using the Forums and reading, reading, reading, I gained invaluable information from people who had already been through the quitting process and applied their advice and experience to my own quit.
"My most valuable piece of advice to others trying to quit smoking? I would say never give up! Anyone can quit if they sincerely want to, and if they commit themselves 100% to reaching that goal. 'There is no can't, only won't.'"
Keep coming back, and KTQ,
Sheila, the Frog Princess (j/k!).
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 QMember Stories, featuring Sindie033013 - who celebrates nearly a three month quit!
"I started smoking when I was 13 years old. I remember living in Dunlap, IL, and going out into the woods behind my house and trying a cigarette. Then we would go out behind the bus barn after school and smoke. Both of my parents smoked back then, so I guess it seemed like the thing to do to become an adult.
"We moved to California when I started High school and that’s when I really started smoking regularly. I would swipe Salems from my mom’s closet and smoke away. There was a smoking section at the high school, so it was pretty much accepted in those days.
"There are so many things I dislike about smoking. The worst thing has been the isolation. My addiction to cigarettes has slowly isolated me from people. I live in California where NOBODY smokes, and smokers are very frequently looked down upon. I have rebelled against that thinking for a very long time, but I now see that I was only hurting myself and isolating myself from other people.
"This time I stopped smoking on 3/30/13. I wanted to stop on or near my birthday…and I did, so I am very happy about that. I am using NRT in the form of the nicotine patch. I used this before in a former quit when I stopped for 6 months. I know that it will work for me as long as I stick with it.
"I went searching online for a stop smoking support group and found QuitNet. I am very grateful to have found it. It is a big part of my Recovery Plan. I Joined on my Quit Date, 3/30/13. Going to the Newcomers chat room during Hell Week (week one) was a life saver. I would like to help others by going there when I am more confident in my own quit.
"This is the 4th time (I think) that I have stopped smoking. Each time I have stopped in the past I have learned something. I know now that I CANNOT have just one cigarette. That I CANNOT go Off the Patch too soon; I must give myself enough time. And, just for me, that I CANNOT take anti-depressants as they increased my anxiety the last time to an unbearable point.
"In addition to NRT in the form of the patch, I've used Alan Carr’s Stop Smoking the Easy Way for Women, QuitNet Support, free youtube Stop Smoking Hypnosis, having an actual Quit-Buddy (a very good friend of mine), “smoking” cut off straws in my car and whenever else I feel the urge, being more active, making plans to become a runner, and taking the Daily Pledge every Day at QuitNet.
"My main inspiration for stopping at this time is an upcoming trip to Ireland. I have been fortunate to travel quite a bit but this is the first time I will be traveling solo with a group of new people. I decided I did not want to be smoking and isolating myself during this adventure. I hope that when I return from my trip I will find the motivation to remain smoke free.
"I am feeling so much better already. I had a terrible cough that would not go away. I’ve had it well over a year and would not go to the doctor for it. It is nearly gone now. I keep thinking I may have dodged a bullet and it really could be the very next cigarette that I smoked that would turn that cough into lung cancer. I want to stay alive … to see my son finish college…and to enjoy my future grandchildren.
"Also, I have overcome some life events in recent years and I have finally found a deeper strength within. I believe that I am finally ready to truly stop
and to be able to handle the uncomfortableness of quitting.
"My advice to newcomers? If you decide that you are going to quit, do not let anything stop you. Use each and every resource available to you, and Protect your quit at all costs. Recognize that you are an addict and that you are entering a period of recovery. Be good to yourself…and reach out for support from others…it helps a GREAT deal."
Keep coming back, and KTQ,
"P.S. I am thrilled to let you know that I have returned from my trip to Ireland and survived entirely smoke free!! What an amazing experience!" :)
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,
Part Two of last week's Mother's Day Q Blog: Dealing With Peer Pressure
Most adult smokers picked up their first cigarette when they were teenagers, and so began a potential lifelong addiction. Peer pressure is one of the most common reasons kids start to smoke. Adolescence is a time when fitting in is extremely important. Kids want to be liked by their peers and fear being made fun of or singled out. Teens may engage in risky behaviors in order to win social acceptance from their peers. If invited to join a group where smoking is common, your teen will most likely smoke to feel accepted. This is especially true if a teen feels socially awkward and doesn’t make friends easily.
It’s also more likely for teens with attention deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) to experiment with smoking and become nicotine dependent. Nicotine is a stimulant that acts similar to some of the medications used to treat ADHD. Cigarettes easily become the drug of choice for kids with ADHD, as they self-medicate to relieve their symptoms. School life and social pressures can increase stress and anxiety for all teens. So, while smoking may start as a result of peer pressure, it may end up as a coping tool for life's daily stress.
Get to know your teen’s friends! Ask your teens if any of their friends smoke. Ask if they talk about smoking with their friends or if they have ever been offered cigarettes. If their close friends smoke, eventually they may break down and try one. Ask them to picture situations where their friends may offer them a cigarette. Help them practice resisting peer pressure by doing some role-playing so they feel comfortable saying no to their friends.They can blame it on their parents: “Not for me, My Mom/Dad will ground me for life if I smoke”, or use humor: “No Way. There are all kinds of poisonous chemicals in those things!” They can even be blunt and just say “No thanks”.
Ask your teen their opinion on the dangers of smoking. It’s best not to lecture on the long term consequences of smoking as teens tend to live in the here and now and ten to twenty years down the road is an eternity to them. Your teen’s vanity is a better hook. Teens don’t want yellow teeth, wrinkly skin, or smelly breath and hair. If you want your teen to be aware of the health risks of smoking, put it in terms that are relative to them now. Let them know how smoking will affect their ability to sing, dance, run track, play ball, swim; even date! Choose something that matters to them.
Smoking is expensive. Have your teen do the math on how much money the average smoker spends a year on cigarettes. Have them make a list of things they could buy with that money. Chances are, they have been asking or saving for something special; now’s a good time to show them the financial costs of cigarette smoking. Offer a reward incentive for staying smoke-free (or quitting if they smoke) and see how quick they comply!
Your teen is faced with peer pressure on a daily basis, so expect to revisit the issue of smoking frequently. Being supportive will help them make the right choice. Being an example by not smoking, setting clear boundaries that smoking is not an option, and keeping the communication lines open will help prevent your children from becoming smokers!
Quit with QuitNet today:
Part One: What do you do when you find the child who pestered you for years to quit is now picking up the habit themselves? Upset and surprised as you may feel (after all, you did strongly advise them not to follow your bad example), you will need to tread lightly and resist the urge to lecture and demand. If you come on too strong, your child may just dig in their heels, assert their independence, and continue to smoke.
Instead, be a good listener and ask your child why they started smoking. What was the appeal? How much do they smoke, and with whom? It only takes a short time for a smoker to become addicted; ask if (s)he feels uncomfortable going without smoking for a few hours. Opening a discussion about their smoking habit can help you both create a quit plan.
A great way to prevent your children from smoking is to set a good example and not smoke yourself. So, if you have already quit, then congratulations! If you are in the process of quitting, be honest with them about how hard it is for you to quit and how much you wish you never started. If they see you slip or relapse, use that as a teaching moment. Kids respect honest communication over ultimatums. Reconfirm the addictive power of nicotine. Let them know it’s a struggle, but that you won’t give up on quitting smoking. In the meantime, go outside to smoke and avoid leaving any cigarettes accessible to your teen. Make your home and car a smoke-free zone. Studies show parents who avoid smoking in front of their children may help prevent them from picking up the habit.
Don’t underestimate the influence you have as a parent! Though your teen may appear to be ignoring you, the truth is they care a great deal about what you think of them and don’t want to disappoint you. Stay strong and consistent in your message that smoking is not an option. Keep the communication open by being nonjudgmental and paying attention to what your child is telling you.
Next week: Helping your kids deal with peer pressure.
You can quit smoking successfully, and we can help:
Welcome to the first installment of Member Stories at the QBlog. This week features tinacsu, a new member who quit smoking just in time for April Fool's Day, telling her story in her own words...
"I smoked for 18 years, about half pack a day. If stressed I smoke a little more each day. I tried to quit smoking many years ago...the first time I quit for 2 months. 5 years ago a quit lasted maybe 2 weeks. My heart really wasn't in it, to completely let it go.
"When I smoked I was ashamed of my addiction. I hated thinking that I am trying to make sure my body looks tight on the outside, but am ingesting poison that is ruining my insides. What truly made me decide to quit is my co-worker died of bone cancer 2 months ago. That really made me get serious about quitting.
"On Easter Sunday, 3/31/13, at 11pm, I had my last cigarette. I told myself that on April 1st I would not smoke anymore, and I talked to my Dr. and got a script for the patch. What's different this time is IT IS TIME. I am tired of being a slave to something that is killing me. Cigarettes are so expensive now and people are paying that money to something they think will provide comfort--but they don't. Cigs do not make problems go away or make them better. Ex-smokers have have to learn new coping skills.
"I just googled about quitting smoking and joined QuitNet on 4/3 or 4/4. So far I've been reading the testimonials, factoids, comics, and I joined a few clubs. Seeing my quit status and updates of the days, minutes, hours, seconds, money saved and life saved is inspiring.
"It's one step at a time. I am currently using the patch, but I just read Allen Carr's book, Easy Way to Quit, and he basically says that the willpower method is best, and following his advice. If I was alone on an island that might work! But I enjoyed his book and recommend people read it.
"What inspires me to stay quit is the fact that I sleep better at night, and knowing that I am improving my health. I have more energy in the gym, too. I like to run...I feel confident now that I can start running. When smoking crosses my mind I think of not being able to run for a long period of time.
"My most valuable advice for to others is: Pray. Ask God for guidance and help and strength. Take it one day, one hour, one minute, one second at a time. Don't worry about tomorrow, just get though today. Sometimes if I am having a strong craving I will tell myself, "Maybe tomorrow I will have a smoke, but not today." And the next day I say the same thing (I got that from another quitter on the site)."
QuitNet member since April, 2013
Unlike most tobacco addicts, I was a reluctant smoker at first. I had to work at becoming hooked. If it weren't for the repeated pressure from peers to conform, combined with coolness imagery and a narrative driven by manufacturers and advertisers, I'd have never even tried. This is the third installment of my personal journey into the hell of nicotine dependence. The story so far...
As the new kid in a rural farming town, I tried smoking to fit in, but smoking made me so ill I couldn't take any more than a few puffs at a time. I tried again to become a smoker, or at least fake being a smoker, a few years later when I developed a crush on a high school senior who was herself a heavy smoker. Pretending to be a smoker didn't cut it, however; she wasn't fooled, and the physical effects of tobacco on my body remained a powerful deterrent. Then I joined the Army. [Image: National Archives]
One thing about military life, especially basic training--everything is broken down into pain and simple pleasures. All the civilian things that are important to a new recruit--family, friends, relationships, hairstyles, clothes, TV, partying, chasing girls and boys--are systematically stripped away and replaced with a spartan existence and enforced reliance on routine and authority. Conformity, not rugged indidualism, becomes the order of the day.
You'd think that a habit like smoking, which damages the body, distorts human thought processes, and is marketed as symbol of autonomy and rebellion, would be a bad fit for property of Uncle Sam. Any you'd be right, except for one thing: Uncle Sam himself was a smoker, targeted by tobacco companies (eager to expand their markets by pitching cigarettes as morale-boosters for combat troops) as far back as WWI. Soldiers from privates to generals, as well as retirees, military civilians and dependents, are likely to smoke at up to twice the national average (which currently hovers around 20%).
During WWII, free cigarettes were rationed to soldiers via manufacturers and retailers, and were considered by the troops even more valuable than MRE's (meals ready to eat). Cigarettes became part of the wartime iconography. I myself was profoundly affected, long before ever trying to smoke, by movie images of Allied fighting men lighting up with satisfaction after winning a firefight, or bombing the bejeebus out of Hitler with jaunty little cigarettes stuffed in the sides of their mouth.
In the 1970's, the U.S. government began to re-evaluate smoking by troops, as evidence mounted that smokers performed at a lower physical level than nonsmokers, were more easily injured, and got sick more often. This ill effect on combat readiness ignited a war between the military and cigarette makers and sellers that continued throughout the 1980's and '90's.
Today, soldiers still smoke at a much higher rate than civilians, though the government has taken some positive steps in the right direction--even partnering with QuitNet to help soldiers get free of tobacco addiction.
Next time: So how did I finally get hooked on death sticks?
Alan P, CTTS, Healthways QuitNet