Quit Smoking: Tips, Tools and Tricks
Before seeing how to quit smoking, history says that smoking goes back to 5000 BC. Smoking has been associated with religious ceremonies, cleansing rituals, divination and even spiritual enlightenment.
Today, however, the dangers of smoking are well known. Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the world. In the United States, about 500,000 deaths per year are attributed to smoking related diseases . At least half of all lifelong smokers die early as a result of smoking. Thinking about quitting smoking? If you want to live a long healthy life you should be.
Some people are able to quit smoking on their own, but research show that the best way to quit is through evidence based smoking cessation technologies and programs. Seventy percent of smokers will attempt to quit without using a program and 90 percent will relapse. (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.)
Ready to quit smoking on your own? Here are some tips to increase your chances.
- Have a plan. To quit smoking, you must be prepared. Pick a goal date when you will smoke your last cigarette and start your life as a non-smoker. Between two weeks and 30 days from today.
- Get a physical. Be aware of any health problems that may exist. It's better to know. Make sure it's ok for you to exercise.
- Get regular exercise. Get your health back. Walking is a great way to start, riding a bike or doing exercise videos at home. Exercising will also help you deal with negative feelings that may arise in your first days of quitting.
- Prepare to quit. If you smoke over a pack a day, give yourself two weeks to prepare your mind to quit smoking. If under a pack, give yourself a week. Adjust if necessary and based on your intuition and experience. During your preparing to quit period:
- Write down all the reasons why it's so important for you to quit smoking. The more emotional, the better. ("I don't want my kids to watch me die of lung cancer" for example.) Write your reasons down on a few 3x5 cards and carry them with you. Put them up where you will see them. Read them several times a day.
- Change your diet. Since nicotine acts as an appetite suppressant, you don't want to gain a weight after you quit smoking. (Very common after people quit smoking.) Start to eat three healthy meals a day with healthy snacks in between. Increase protein and reduce refined carbs.
- In your preparation period, start to scramble your smoking pattern. For instance, if you smoke in your left hand, start smoking in your right. If you like smoking on the front porch, change your smoking spot to some uncomfortable place like out by the trashcans. Stop buying cartons and buy one pack at a time, changing brands each time you buy a pack. Start cutting cigarettes in half.
- FIND REPLACEMENTS. In my opinion, this is the number one secret to successfully quit smoking. There are many reasons people smoke: to ease boredom, reduce stress, relax, as a reward, or simply because it's a habit. Of course, there is the addiction component as well. Find things to replace smoking with and have them ready on your quit day. Some examples:
- Find ways to stay busy to keep from being bored. At work instead of a smoke break, take a short walk.
- Keep your mouth busy using sunflower seeds in the shell, gum, sugar free suckers or hard candy, licorice, carrot sticks, celery sticks, pretzels, flavored toothpicks. Some people say that putting a Listerine slip in their mouth takes away the urge. Drinking milk works too.
- Keep your hands busy with a stress ball, or an object you can keep in your hand like a pen or small stone.
- Drink lots of water.
- Take a Vitamin B supplement to help with stress.
- Deep breaths.
- Use the nicotine patch, gum or prescribed smoking cessation meds if you need to, they are much more effective when used in combination with the techniques I'm giving you here.
- Use affirmations. Use positive self-talk such as "I am free!" or "I can do this" or "I am in control" or I'm worth taking care of " or "I am healthy, happy and free from addiction." Make it a habit to say them several times a day.
- ON YOUR QUIT SMOKING DAY: Tell everyone what you are doing to make yourself accountable. Pick your quit day carefully; a day when you have time to focus on your goal.
- After you quit smoking, avoid drugs like alcohol and marijuana which can decrease your motivation. I suggest giving them up at least for the first month of being a nonsmoker, longer if they are major triggers that make you want to smoke. If coffee makes you want to smoke, cut down or eliminate it for a while.
- Get lots of sleep. Your body needs energy to heal.
- Get your teeth cleaned and get checked for oral cancer.
- Get your car washed and detailed if you smoked in your car.
- Avoid situations that will tempt you. Stay away from bars and parties where people will be smoking. Ask those close to you to refrain from smoking in front of you.
- Give yourself a reward. Have a plan to get a massage after 30 days of smoke free. Or take a trip. Or buy something for yourself.
- DON'T KID YOURSELF! Don't even think for a second that you can have "just one" after you quit. Chances are you can't. "Just one" can undo all of your hard work. Begin to see cigarettes for what they are: a deadly poison that you want to avoid at all costs.
Hypnosis was found to be more than twice as effective as quitting "cold turkey," and over three times as effective as nicotine replacement therapy, according to a a study presented October 22, 2007 at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.