By Kristin Sidorov
Nixing the nicotine habit can feel like a daunting, uphill battle, but don’t let fear of failure stop you (after all, this is one situation where quitting is good). There are more resources than ever for smokers who want to free themselves from addiction forever.
The right frame of mind is everything. Think about your goals, your personal temptations with smoking (do you itch for a cigarette more after you eat, or when you drink?) and how you’ll confront those tough times. What are your reasons for quitting? Maybe you want to be more active, or you’re hoping to breathe better. Maybe you need to do it for your health, your children, or for your dog. Maybe you hate that your hair always smells like smoke, or you’re fed up with how it disrupts your life. Whatever your reason, find it and focus on it before you start.
Pick a quit day. Choose a day in the next month or two to begin your journey. Mark this day on your calendar, tell your friends and family, and mentally prepare yourself.
Determine your method. There are so many options for smokers who want to quit: cold turkey, nicotine replacements like gum or patches, electronic cigarettes, prescription drugs, counseling, and thousands of programs that provide guidance and support. Do your research and find the best plan for you.
Establish personal support. Create a strong base of friends, family, coworkers, or support groups. Encouragement will bolster your determination when the going gets tough. Chances are you have a lot of people who want you to quit, too, and will stand behind you every step of the way.
Taking this major step is only half the battle; the toughest part is still ahead. There is a lot to keep in mind and pitfalls to watch out for. Keep your motivation and you’ll get there.
On your quit day, stay active and positive. It’s okay to think about smoking — in fact, many say that when quitting, it’s pointless and counterproductive not to. Just don’t give in. When a craving comes on, divert your attention with an activity. Keep away from people who smoke, avoid alcohol, and steer clear of any other triggers. Lean on your support system.
Don’t rationalize. As the days go by, it’s common (and easy) to start rationalizing your cravings. “I’ll just have one,” “I only smoke when I drink,” “It’s my only vice.” Don’t give in. Rely on your method of quitting for guidance.
Change your habits. Chances are, your routine and daily habits revolved around smoking. Pick up new hobbies, find new lunch spots, and find other ways to relax, unwind, or reward yourself.
Slip-ups can and do happen. And it’s important not to beat yourself up about it — but don’t ever let it deter you completely. One slip-up is not a failure, and is easy to overcome. Hang in there and take it one day at a time.
Cancer.org’s Guide to Quitting Smoking
CDC’s Guides and Fact Sheets on Smoking Cessation
Above the Influence — Teens and Temptations
Harms of Smoking and Benefits of Quitting from the National Cancer Institute
Beat the demon? Share your own story of kicking the habit!