Step 3 in Quitting Smoking: Taking Effective Actions to Stop

quit smokingThe one thing that many people don’t understand when it comes to quitting smoking is that addressing the physical addiction to nicotine is not enough. They must also learn to manage the ingrained habits that led them to smoke. People smoke after meals, while driving, and while under stress, to name just three examples. Those urges do not go away simply because the cigarettes are gone.

Quitters need to have a plan for when the habitual part of smoking raises its ugly head. We discussed that a little in our previous post about the 4Ds, but here are a few more tips to master the mental piece of quitting.

Look at your habits.

When did you have your first cigarette of the day? Was it right when you got up, after your shower, or after breakfast? Breaking that habitual urge can be as simple as changing your routine. If you smoked first thing, try going outside for a quick walk instead, or hop into the shower right away.

If your habits don’t change, your chances of staying quit are dramatically lower than if you consciously alter the path of your day.

Have substitutes handy.

If you can’t stop doing something that triggers you to smoke, keep something handy that you can put in your hand or in your mouth. Driving is a strong smoking trigger for many, and most cannot avoid it. Try putting a straw in your hand or a cinnamon toothpick in your mouth. If you find yourself lighting up at a certain intersection on your way to work, find a new route until you’re more secure in your quit.

Enlist help.

If you live with smokers, see what they are willing to do to help you maintain your quit. Having them smoke outside is ideal, since you were likely to smoke with them as part of your habitual conditioning and it’s easier to have them out of sight, out of mind. If they will not go outside, perhaps they would confine their smoking to one room of the house and keep the door closed.

If those you live with don’t smoke, perhaps they can help you identify your smoking habits and ways to break those habits.

You may need to alter your routine for only a few weeks while you master the initial difficulty of quitting, or you may need to change a few things more or less permanently. The main thing to remember is to never take one drag. This is no different from being addicted to any other drug. You would not suggest that an alcoholic or heroin addict has “just one” . . . and you can’t either.

What are your tips to quitting smoking?

The First Step in Quitting Smoking: Why Do You Want to Quit?

quit smokingAre you ready to quit smoking?

The first step in quitting is to determine why you want to quit. You know you should, and maybe your doctor has told you that you need to quit. However, you won’t be successful long-term unless the desire to quit comes from you, and the reasons you quit have to be your reasons. You can’t quit to please others or because they’re pressuring you. If you do, you’ll use that person as your excuse to go back to smoking.

You know what we’re talking about. At least once, you’ve tried to quit because someone was bugging you. When you did, you lasted for a few weeks or even a few months, but it was a tough quit to maintain because you weren’t doing it for yourself. In the end, you went back to it because deep down, you didn’t want to quit then—and you were even a little resentful of the person who was pressuring you.

So if you’re thinking about quitting for your kids, your spouse, or the dog, stop right there. What are your reasons for quitting? What do you want out of it? Your reasons will keep you going when you have that irresistible craving for a smoke. Your reasons will help your quit go more smoothly. Yes, quitting can be difficult at times—but quitting for other people’s reasons is even harder.

Here are ten common reasons for quitting we’ve heard from successful smokers:

  • I was tired of spending all my money and having nothing to show for it.
  • I woke up one day and decided I was done. I’d had enough of the smell, the expense, and the coughing.
  • I knew I could do so much more with the money and time I spent on smoking.
  • I wanted to feel better and not be dependent on cigarettes to get me through the day.
  • I didn’t like being addicted to nicotine because I was missing a lot of life.
  • I was sick of smelling and feeling bad all the time.
  • I wanted to run and play with my kids (or grandkids).
  • Being a smoker wasn’t for me—I’m worth a lot more than that, and I want to live to be an old lady.
  • The thought of having lung cancer or COPD scared me, and I knew it was time to quit.
  • I just got tired of the habits: waking up and smoking, driving and smoking, eating and then smoking . . . it was ridiculous.

Do any of these reasons resonate with you? What benefits of quitting are you looking forward to? When you have your own, clear reasons to quit, it’s time to move forward and do it—but quitting without a reason that is meaningful to you is a setup for failure.