Take Control: The Best Methods to Quit Smoking for Good
Here at the end of the year, you may be thinking back to that 2018 New Year’s resolution to quit smoking…while looking down at the lit cigarette in your hand. With a fresh calendar year right around the corner, you may be ready to give it another go. Quitting smoking for good is within your capability. The tips below can help you get there.
If we had to distill the secret to quitting smoking down to just one word, it would be “patience.” If you’re reading this article, you know first-hand just how difficult the process of quitting smoking truly is. To achieve your goal requires patience both big and small.
In terms of “big patience,” it’s important to prepare yourself for the long haul. The craving to smoke is aggravatingly persistent and deep-rooted. Nicotine withdrawal hits hardest during the first few days of quitting. Cravings are at their most intense for the first couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it’s not simply a matter of white-knuckling it through those first couple weeks; most folks who return to smoking do so during the first three months of quitting. And you’ll likely notice the urge to smoke for months or even years.
But before you get discouraged: those cravings lessen. Try to keep those first few days and weeks in mind. While you’ll have tough moments afterward, they will pale in comparison to those early urges. While at the beginning you’re fighting a monster, in time it’ll be like flicking away a fly.
Those days, weeks, and months are full of numerous moments of “small patience.” While you may be dealing with cravings for a while, each craving only lasts from three to five minutes on average—whether you give in or wait it out. So pull out your phone, do some breathing exercises, do some jumping jacks; just distract your mind for a few minutes, and you’ll make it through. Do that a few times, and hours have gone by, then days, then weeks.
Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes
Come to terms with the fact that you’ll likely slip up somewhere along the way. The key is to not let this derail your efforts. This is something you see often in diets: people limit themselves to something restrictive. Then they eat one piece of cake at an office birthday party and consider themselves “off the diet.” They abandon their restrictions until a moment where they “restart.”
If you pick up a cigarette, try to view it as a blip, rather than an end to this particular effort to quit. You didn’t try to quit, fail, and now need to try again. You’re quitting. Quitting is a learned skill and it takes practice; you’re bound to make some mistakes along the way. Try to learn from them, and use that knowledge to strengthen your skillset. Most importantly, try to avoid feeling shame or guilt. Those feelings are undeserved, and have a way of sending even the most resilient of us spiraling.
Have a Plan
Having a plan is a huge help. Remove physical triggers like ashtrays or leftover cigarettes. For a while, avoid situations you associate with smoking, like going to the bar. Then, make a plan for something to distract yourself when you face those triggers. And give thought to changing up your schedule. If your body and mind are accustomed to taking smoke breaks at a particular time, it’s tough to break those habits. Plan something to fill those spaces.
Connect with a Professional Resource
If you need some extra motivation along the way, the American Lung Association has put together a great article on “Reasons to Quit Smoking.” Speaking of the American Lung Association, one of the wellness services available here at DeKalb Health in Indiana is a “Freedom from Smoking” class certified by the organization. Contact our Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Department at 260.920.2571 to learn more and sign up for the class.