Quitting smoking can be hard, but you can make it easier with planning, support, rewards and realistic expectations!
When you stop smoking, you'll stop doing something you've been doing every half hour of every day of every week of every month of every year - for many, many, many years! You probably started each morning with a cigarette, ended each day & meal with a cigarette, smoked during breaks, good times, sad times, stressful times, when bored or driving, every fight and frustration - a cigarette was a part of every single thing you did.
It is normal to feel anger/sadness/frustration from missing your daily habit. It's normal to have no idea what to do in each of those moments you used to smoke. It is also normal for the things you do come up with to not really 'do the trick' at first! Be sure to identify new emotional coping tools and new behaviors to get through this part of your quit process successfully; read on for questions to help you. This is the hard part, and it has little to do with an actual physical craving for a cigarette!
The newly-quit often feel of sense of loss because they can no longer do what they used to in the same way they used to do it. Change is hard, can lead to feelings of frustration and takes time, patience and PRACTICE to move through it effectively. Quitting is a a learning process. It does not feel comfortable at first. You've lost your (false) emotional coping tool and your daily past time. You probably don't have any new ones to fill the void yet. This is where you can actively work to identify and practice new behaviors, new emotional coping tools, new routines and healthy new habits.
Every smoker goes through this process during their quit. As you do so, you are actually 'becoming a nonsmoker'. Expecting this will happen, knowing it will take a few months to get to the 'feeling better' part, and having a plan of action for your toughest trigger moments will ensure your lasting success!
Make a commitment today to identify new habits, new emotional coping tools, new activities to keep you busy and new daily routines that appeal to YOU. This is YOUR quit, so get involved! Let's identify your 3 biggest smoking triggers (EX: stress, driving, boredom); these are what you'll want to put your time, energy and focus during the next month. Write down your answers to the following:
- What are some things you will commit to doing when you encounter this trigger? (take a walk, call a friend, listen to music)
- What has worked before?
- What else can you try?
- What will you do around other smokers?
- Where will you go to enjoy yourself that is smoke free & supports your quit?
This is 'working your quit' and is the most important step of all! The key is that you not reach for a cigarette no matter what happens or how you feel. It is in that very moment of choosing something else that you will identify the options that work perfectly for YOU. And that is how keeping your Quit gets easier instead of harder as time goes by!
Vikki Q CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist