The best way to approach quitting is to attack each urge one at a time, like its your last stand, the big battle. Look at it as a battle of willpower that you MUST win. As you put a number of battles behind, the urges will subside and you will be long on your road to a healthier and happier, smoke free life.
These 12 tips should help move the odds more towards your favor:
1. Be Prepared for Your Urges!
Get yourself prepared for the urge to smoke in advance. In most cases something triggers the craving (certain feelings, people, or places). You have to know what triggers the urge.
Let’s do a really quick exercise. Take a blank piece of paper and divide it into 2 columns. On the one side list your triggers (like “stuck in traffic”, “drinking morning coffee”, “arguing with colleague”...) and in the second column write down the alternative course of action.
For example, instead of smoking while drinking your morning coffee you could read a newspaper. Instead of smoking after the hot argument with your colleague you could take a walk around the block or write down everything you think about this person, then tear this piece of paper in shreds and throw it away. Don't be lazy, write it down! This exercise really works!
2. Remind Yourself of the Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Every time you experience a craving remind yourself why you quit. It is an excellent idea to take a blank index card and list all the reasons why you decided to quit smoking. List as many as you can, the more the better. Do notg forget to list the names of your loved ones. If necessary, take the second index card. Carry them with you all the time. Every time you feel the urge to smoke take the index card and slowly read all your reasons why you decided to stop. Reasons such as:
- Quitting smoking decreases the risk of lung cancer, other cancers, heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease.
- Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, pp.193, 194,196, 285, 323).
- Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection. (US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, pp. 285-287, 304)
- Breath smells better
- Stained teeth get whiter
- Bad smelling clothes and hair go away
- Yellow fingers and fingernails disappear
- Food tastes better
- Sense of smell returns to normal
- Everyday activities no longer leave you out of breath (for example, climbing stairs or light housework).
- Money savings (cost of cigarettes, health insurance, etc.)
After you finish reading your list the urge will pass! (If not, read them one more time or come up with more reasons).
3. Take a Deep Breath
Take 10 deep breaths and hold the last one while lighting a match. Exhale slowly and blow out the match Pretend it's a cigarette and crush it out in an ashtray.
4. Light Up the Right Way
Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
5. Call A Friend
This method works great. Call someone who can support you, who can talk with you for a couple of minutes. You can call your nonsmoking friend, or someone who's trying to quit smoking too.
6. Distract Yourself with a Quick Task
Think of a small task you have to do, something that would take you 5-10 minutes. Make a call, send a fax, make yourself a cup of coffee, water the plant in your office. Anything! Your task is to distract yourself until the urge will pass. (Hint: Try to find an activity that makes smoking impossible!).
7. Find a New Task
Change your habits to make smoking difficult, impossible or unnecessary. For example, it's hard to smoke while you're swimming, jogging, or playing tennis or handball. When your desire for a cigarette is intense, wash your hands or do the dishes, or try new recipes.
8. Keep Your Hands Busy
Do things that require you to use your hands. Try crossword puzzles, needlework, gardening, or household chores. Go bike riding or take the dog for a walk; give yourself a manicure; write letters.
8. Drink a Glass of Water
Take a glass of water and drink it with a straw. First of all having something in your mouth to chew on will help, second it will take you a couple of minutes to drink the whole glass and the urge will pass. Plus, don't forget that you're supposed to drink 8 glasses of water every day!
9. Snack On!
If you are hungry, food is the answer, not a cigarette! If you're concerned about weight gain, try drinking water to help control between meal eating. Have healthy snacks on hand also. Celery sticks, raw baby carrots and frozen grapes make good low calorie snacks.
10. Avoid Temptation
- For the first 1-3 weeks, avoid situations you strongly associate with the pleasurable aspects of smoking, such as watching your favorite TV program, sitting in your favorite chair, or having a cocktail before dinner.
- Until you are confident of your ability to stay off cigarettes, limit your socializing to healthful, outdoor activities or situations where smoking is not allowed.
- If you must be in a situation where you'll be tempted to smoke (such as a cocktail or dinner party), try to associate with the nonsmokers there.
- Try to analyze cigarette ads to understand how they attempt to "sell" you on individual brands.
- Instead of smoking after meals, get up from the table and brush your teeth or go for a walk.
- If you always smoke while driving, listen to a particularly interesting radio program or your favorite music, or take public transportation for a while, if you can.
11. Reward Yourself
Make it a habit to reward yourself at the end of each nonsmoking week. Think of something you want (it doesn’t have to be something expensive, a nice home made meal or hot bath will work). Take the index card and write down what would you give yourself at the end of the week. When the urge comes, take a look at the index card with your reward. Isn't it worth coping for 5 minutes?
12. Power Tip
That’s the disgusting one, but it often works. Print a small picture of a smoker's lungs and put it somewhere in your wallet. I know the view is not pretty, but something like this can stop you dead in your tracks from lighting up. Take a look! Really! THIS could be your lungs! You love yourself, and you respect your body. Why harm yourself?