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?