Useful Tips on How to Quit Smoking
According to a recent study, a majority of smokers would love to learn how to quit smoking for good. Although most smokers hate the harmful habit, very few of them actually take action to stop smoking, and even fewer succeed. Smoking has proven to be one of the hardest habits to break. But why is it so difficult to stop smoking, and more importantly, how can one stop smoking?
If you’re a smoker and are looking for ways to stop smoking, we’ve got your back. It doesn’t matter how many time you’ve tried, or if it’s only your first attempt at quitting. Read on and learn some useful tips on how to quit smoking and start your journey towards a healthier, tobacco-free life.
Quitting Smoking: Why It’s Such a Challenge
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco is responsible for more than eight million deaths every year. Besides these fatalities, smoking is also associated with several adverse health conditions, including different types of cancer, heart disease, tuberculosis, and even stroke. Many smokers are well aware of the risks of smoking, and yet they are unable to stop. But motivation is probably not what’s lacking.
Like many other active drug substances, the nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive. Taking nicotine is psychologically rewarding to the smoker. Once consumed, nicotine causes the release of certain chemicals in the brain that stimulate specific psychological activities resulting in euphoria. Other substances like THC, cocaine, and even sugar have the same effect.
Secondly, the withdrawal symptoms of quitting smoking are not so pleasant. These symptoms may include:
- Flu-like discomforts
- Chest pain and coughing
- Tingling sensations
- Poor concentration
However, these withdrawal symptoms only last for a few weeks and are only at their worst during the first two or three days after quitting. Understanding the difficulty of smoking is the first lesson in learning how to stop smoking. Knowing the enemy is winning half the battle.
How to Stop Smoking: 5 Key Steps to Follow
Quitting smoking is a personal journey. Different people will follow different paths and use different methods to accomplish their goals. However, the end game is the same: stop smoking and don’t fall back. Here are some basic steps to follow to quit smoking.
Prepare Mentally and Emotionally
The first step is preparation. You need to be emotionally and mentally ready for the challenge. Gather up all your discipline and select a quitting date. Pick the first few days carefully; they should be quiet, with minimal responsibilities, as this will prevent any additional stress.
Next, inform your family, friends, and colleagues about your decision to quit smoking and when you plan to do it. This will incite encouragement and support, and a level of understanding of what you shall be going through.
Finally, anticipate and prepare mentally for the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Be ready for a challenging few days and weeks. Preparedness helps us maintain a high level of discipline and acceptance. Remind yourself that this is only a temporary stage.
Practice Behavioural Change Techniques
Breaking a habit requires some behavioural change in your day-to-day life. Following the same routines may sometimes lead to a relapse. You need to occupy your mind with new and exciting activities to divert your attention from the cravings and unpleasant withdrawal.
Explore some new hobbies, things like playing games, hiking, bike riding, and physical workouts. Wellness practices such as meditation, spa treatments, and yoga help take your mind off the challenges. Hypnosis has also been proven to work in assisting individuals who are quitting smoking. Hypnosis breaks the mental addiction and suggests highly-adhesive positive behavioural change; in a way, it reframes your subconscious thoughts to form new perceptions.
Control Your Cravings
Another critical step is figuring out how to deal with your cravings. At times, especially during the first few days, the nicotine cravings will be intense and nearly unbearable. Many smokers looking to quit go for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). This is basically a much safer way of taking low doses of nicotine other than smoking tobacco. NRT prescriptions may include nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, nasal spray, and inhalers.
You could also go for other activities like chewing gum, nuts, and hard candy or doodling to distract yourself from cravings instead of going back to nicotine. These cravings only last for a few minutes at a time so you can always wait them out. Regardless of your coping method, the important thing is not to tempt yourself with even a single puff of a cigarette.
Avoid Smoking Triggers
Avoid every possible smoking trigger around you. Triggers are any situations, people, places, or items that might remind you of cigarettes or smoking. If your friends, family, or colleagues smoke, stay away from them. Also, avoid visiting places like bars, parties, and even stores that sell cigarettes. During the quitting period, you are at your most vulnerable and are likely to relapse over the slightest excuse.
Seek Help and Support
We said that quitting smoking is a personal journey, but you don’t have to take it alone. You need all the help you can get. Find like-minded people, share experiences, and encourage each other. If there is a support group for smoking and alcohol quitters in your area, join their meetings every now and then. It also doesn’t hurt to talk to friends or family members about your situation.
If you’re really struggling, then seek professional help. There is no shame in admitting that you have a problem; this is actually the motivation for learning how to quit smoking. A professional will provide you with the much-needed support and counselling to see you through the journey.
Common Myths About Quitting Smoking
Quitting smoking and even smoking itself is surrounded by misconceptions and myths. Now that you have learnt how to stop smoking, or at least where to begin, as a parting gift, here are three common quitting myths that you should know about.
- Myth: It’s too late to try quitting. Fact: It doesn’t matter how often you smoke or how much you smoke; it’s never too late to stop.
- Myth: Cutting down to quit is easier than stopping abruptly. Fact: There is no evidence supporting this claim. However, cutting down to quit is seen as a more manageable but lengthy approach to quitting smoking.
- Myth: NRTs are as addictive as cigarettes. Fact: smokers don’t use NRTs for long enough to cultivate addiction. Plus, even on prolonged use NRTs don’t pose as great an addiction problem as cigarettes.