- in Tips To Quit
Ways to Prepare Yourself for Quitting and Managing the Moments After
Do you crave cigarettes when you drink coffee or alcohol? Do you crave a cigarette after a meal? What about when you are driving? Some of these triggers can be easily dealt with, while others require a great deal of willpower. If you consider quitting smoking, take some time to identify the moments when you crave a cigarette the most, as these will be the toughest times to face once you take the plunge.
For a week or so before your quit date, try to stop drinking coffee and alcohol if they are heavy triggers for you. This will provide you with a small sample of what it takes to change habits and deal with withdrawal symptoms. You don’t have to give these things up forever, but if you can put these habits on pause for a while, you may find that quitting smoking is that much easier without these triggers.
If you find you absolutely can’t stop these other habits, try replacing the cigarette with something else so you can begin to disassociate the trigger with the habit. So instead of having a cigarette with your coffee, try biscotti. At the very least, try to cut your smoking in half, so if you are having a cigarette, put it out halfway through, or if you can, skip one or delay the gratification for as long as possible.
This leads us to other triggers that are impossible to give up. Eating and driving are usually pretty major triggers, and it is unlikely you will be able to give up either. Still, before you quit, it may be to your benefit to try delaying the habit of trying to replace cigarettes associated with the trigger. As for the period after meals, try going for a walk or doing some other form of light exercise or stretching. Toothpicks and mints work well also.
As for driving, try removing the ashtray and the cigarette lighter. Has your car detailed or clean it yourself and let it air out over a weekend? Resolve to not smoke in your car anymore and instead chew sunflower seeds or occupy yourself with other candies like licorice and lollipops. Driving is also a good time to practice breathing, and you can also do some exercises as well. The trick is to disassociate the habit from your routine before you even begin to quit.
Try to Avoid Other Smokers
For some people, this is a straightforward thing to do. For others, it is nearly impossible. Still, it is beneficial to begin to distance yourself from the habits you have formed in the weeks leading up to your quit date. If you have a scheduled time to smoke, try to set up a different schedule. Better yet, if you have a cigarette every hour, then try to have one every hour and a half instead. Anything you can do to break the habit is helpful.
If you have a certain place where you smoke, make yourself move around, and not be settled into one area. If you smoke inside, make yourself start smoking outside. If you are in the shade, make yourself go into the sun. If you are shielded from the wind, make yourself go into the open. If you associate smoking with something negative, it will be easier to deny the cravings when they arise.
If you have a group of people, you usually have a cigarette with, slowly take yourself out of that social circle. Let them know you are trying to quit, and you may even find a partner willing to join you. Try taking a brisk walk every time you have a cigarette instead of just hanging out with your normal group of smoker friends. You don’t have to cut them out of your life entirely, but for the first couple of months you are quitting, it is best to distance yourself from everything smoking-related until you have the willpower to reintroduce those temptations.
When you are in the Midst of a Craving
If you have quit and you are facing one of those times when the craving is really tearing at your lungs, there are some things you can do to make sure you stay true to your goal. The first is to try to remember that this feeling will pass. This situation is temporary, and it is your goal to face these demons head-on and come out the other side victorious. Remember, you are strong, and you deserve to be free of any ties to simple drug addiction.
Remind yourself why you quit smoking in the first place. If you break down and have a cigarette, how will this affect the goals and results you had planned for yourself? How much is this one cigarette going to set you back? What is the benefit you will get from this one cigarette? How much time and energy will you have wasted if you allow yourself to go back to smoking full time?
If the craving persists, try to distract yourself. Visualize yourself at the end of your goal as opposed to the beginning. Imagine how you will feel in one year. Feel how clean your lungs are already and how much cleaner they will be after a year of sobriety. Think of the money you have saved, and realize that you are making the healthiest choice you can make. Then, congratulate yourself for making the right decision.
If this is a stubborn craving that will not leave no matter what you do, drink some water. Find someone to talk to about how you are feeling. Give thought to calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW as it is an excellent resource if you are in a bind. Here you can make a free call to speak with a free quit coach and even get your hands on other free goodies. Please do your best, and remember that it is okay to break down and smoke.
Realize that Relapse is Common
Many smokers have tried to quit several times. For one reason or another, they failed, and their success can range from quitting for a few days to a few months. Occasionally someone will go several years without a cigarette before picking the habit up again. If you have quit and failed, or trying to quit and you see yourself failing, don’t be discouraged. Relapse among smokers is common, and there is no shame in it.
If you are serious about quitting, pay close attention to what it was that caused you to fail. Was the stress too much for you to handle? Was it a trigger that got the best of you? Was overexposure to other smokers too much to overcome? Were you not ready? Once you understand why you relapsed, you can begin to address those issues for the next time you quit.
It is easy to make excuses. It is easy to fall back into a comfortable place. It is easy to succumb to the pain and frustration behind giving up an addiction. It is also easy to forgive yourself and get right back on track. You don’t have to let one little indiscretion ruin all of the progress you have made. If you feel the urge to smoke so desperately that you cannot think straight, go out and have one. Just don’t buy a pack. Try to bum one from someone else first.
If you have been quit for any length of time, you will likely notice some things about having that first cigarette. Pay close attention to these things. Notice how awful it tastes. Notice how terrible your hands smell afterward. Notice how the flavor of it sticks to your tongue and makes every breath you taste bad. Notice how it didn’t really benefit you at all other than to satisfy one small craving. One craving that will return and continue to return until you decide to quit for good.
Utilize Nicotine Replacement Aids
It is noble to want to quit using natural methods. It is impressive to quit cold turkey. Nevertheless, it is important to quit no matter which method gets you there. If you have tried to quit and failed or are in the midst of quitting and find it nearly impossible to stick with it, then nicotine replacement therapy maybe your best option.
Gum, lozenges, patches, sprays, tablets, and even inhalers have all been developed to help you quit. These options are available for a reason, and the reason is that they work. They can help you get through those critical first months until you have had the ability to restructure your life enough to be done with cigarettes and nicotine altogether.
If all else fails, talk with your doctor about prescription solutions. There are a million reasons to quit smoking and just as many methods of getting there. Please don’t stop trying until you have explored them all.
To your longevity!