Quitting Smoking doesn’t have to be a struggle with your will power, or an endless battle with withdrawal symptoms. To quit smoking successfully there are several key steps you need to take and several things you need to look at. Contrary to what most people and ‘experts’ think and say, using patches, gums will power and eating celery sticks will get you nowhere.
Before we look at the ten steps you need to go through to quit smoking we should briefly look at a few statistics.
Studies have shown that only 16% of smokers who use nicotine replacement therapy (patches and gums etc.) succeed at quitting, and only 10% of smokers who use will power succeed. Furthermore the people that use these methods still have to deal with cravings, pangs, nicotine withdrawal symptoms, weight gain and stress.
Not only that but the will power method usually takes seven attempts before a successful quit and after six months most of smokers using either method end up smoking again.
But 84% of people who use nicotine replacement therapy like gum or patches — or try to rely on will power — ultimately FAIL!
If you want to quit smoking in the least amount of time with the least amount of hassle and the least amount of stress, follow these ten simple but very effective steps.
1. Honestly want to quit – many smokers are being forced to quit by their families and children, doctors, employers and now the government with many countries around the world now enforcing a public smoking ban. As you probably know, these different sources of pressure only make it harder for you.
It’s the same reason that you probably want to strangle them when they say ‘smoking will kill you’ or ‘you’re going to get cancer or ….’ etc. These things have the opposite effect – they combine to make you want to continue smoking.
So it is important that you want to quit for yourself, yes bear your children / family in mind but ultimately you should quit for yourself and the things that YOU will get when you quit.
2. Avoid thinking that you are ‘Quitting’ or ‘Giving Up’ smoking – unfortunately adopting this attitude is as effective as taking one step forward and two steps back. Think of the words ‘quit’ and ‘give up’ – what do they imply and suggest?
Essentially they both have a negative underlying theme – you are losing out on, quitting, having to do without, giving up on and denying yourself something. This ‘something’ being the things you get from smoking.
So by saying and thinking that you are ‘quitting’ or ‘giving up’ you are subtly telling yourself and focusing on the things that you are going to be denying yourself when you stop smoking. It’s the same principle behind the reason that dieting doesn’t work – you are denying yourself the very things that you want, and not only that but you are constantly focusing on them and longing for them.
The result is that no matter how hard you are trying, you are still remembering the ‘good’ things that you are having to do without, basically you will feel as if you are depriving yourself of pleasure / relaxation etc.
Instead look forward to the very things that you will get when you stop smoking, and fully focus yourself and your mind on them. Think ‘I’m stopping smoking and I’m saving an extra $2,000 a year, I smell ten times better, I can taste my food more fully, I can spend more time on my hobbies / with my children, I don’t have to hide my cigarette breath from my partner / children / customers and I don’t have stand out in the wind and rain to have a cigarette.
3. Set a Stop Smoking Date – and look forward to a new lifestyle after that. A problem many smokers have when they set a date is they don’t do anything else other than set a date. Then the date arrives and they get onto a panic because ‘this is it’ and they are now under pressure to stick with it, this panic results in stress – and what do smokers do when they are stressed? They smoke!
Set your date and smoke without guilt until that date and follow the steps below to ensure that you avoid the common smoking pitfalls in the days and weeks before and after you stop smoking.
4. Find the things that make you smoke – your Smoking Links. In addition to nicotine addiction, there are several other things that make you smoke. Most of these other things are people, events, situations, people and emotions.
For example, you smoke when you wake up, on your way to work, after sex, when you pick up the phone, with your tea or coffee, when you finish your meal, when you argue with your partner, when you are stressed, to relax, before you go on a long haul flight, when you meet your partner’s parents for the first time etc. All of these situations and many, many more, either start with revolve around or end with a cigarette.
Once you’ve stopped smoking, these situations and events will occur again. So you have to remove these things, by breaking the associations, re-establishing new routines and by finding new ways to achieve the feelings / satisfaction / result that you used to get from smoking. If you haven’t got a reason to smoke, why smoke?!!
5. Accept that there will be problems – everyday is full of ups and downs, it’s a fact of life. So you should plan on how you are going to deal with stress and your smoking links. First remember that smoking will not put out your kitchen fire, fix your flat tire, get you your job back, fix your argument with your partner, solve your financial problems, calm your nerves after a car accident or satisfy your over zealous boss.
You should do two things, firstly find simple yet effective ways to calm your nerves and reduce stress in a matter of seconds or minutes. Breathing techniques are a good way but not necessarily everybody’s favourite choice. So take a five minute break, play with a stress ball, channel your aggression and stress and let it all out in a controlled manner – e.g. sports, call a friend or close your eyes and forget about the problem for a minute.
Secondly, make and set aside special time for relaxation and de-stressing. For example, plan a weekend retreat, set aside half an hour at the end of every day to go for a run, go to work on a boxing bag, read a book, take a bath, spend time with your partner / children with no TV or other distractions.
Know that there will be problems and accept that smoking is no longer an appropriate way to deal with them, and then find something else to help you.
6. Find a new hobby / source of pleasure to take your mind off smoking – this is crucial. Remember the above point about focus and ‘quitting’ and ‘giving up smoking’? Well they don’t work because you are still focusing on cigarettes. So you need to find one or two new things to focus on.
You need to find something that will:
a). take your mind off smoking
b). replace the pleasure you got from smoking
c). give you something to look forward to
A new hobby or two will do all three of these three things perfectly. It is very important that you find something or several things that fulfil all three of these needs. If you don’t, you will find yourself longing for cigarettes and constantly thinking about them.
It’s best to have two hobbies, one you can spend half an hour or so on a day (if you look at how much time you spend smoking it’s probably about an hour a day) and one you can spend a whole weekend on or several hours at a weekend on. Try to make these hobbies ones you can really get your teeth into and involved in, also don’t forget with the money you’ve saved on smoking you can now afford to spend a little extra cash.
If you really get involved in your new or forgotten hobby you will show and prove to yourself that you can enjoy life free from cigarettes.
7. Prepare and plan on how to PREVENT withdrawal symptoms and weight gain – these are the two most common reasons for relapse. Weight gain and withdrawal symptoms do not have to be a part of quitting smoking. The easies ways to prevent both of these are to eat!! But eat the right kinds of foods.
Withdrawal symptoms are partly due to your body realising that it’s blood sugar level is extremely low. Nicotine blocks the release of insulin which controls blood sugar levels. With nicotine in your system – your stores of sugar and body fats are released into your blood – tricking your body into thinking that you have eaten.
When you stop smoking, insulin is re-released which stops the release of your stores of sugars and fats (normally only released when you starve) and your body realises that it hasn’t eaten enough food. So you feel irritable and cranky – withdrawal symptoms.
This is why you eat a lot when you quit smoking – because eating naturally feels good – it’s comforting and also because it eases withdrawal symptoms. But the problem is you eat too much and gain weight. Why? Because today’s foods do not have the vitamins and minerals that our body needs, so you eat in excess to get the ‘vital’ foods that your body needs.
To solve the problem you should drink plenty of fresh juice (which contains the vitamins and minerals your body needs) and take vitamin and mineral supplements and eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and minimize the amount of junk food, frozen food and prepared food you eat.
8. When your Stop Smoking Date arrives – take it one hour at a time and focus on the things you are going to get from quitting smoking.
If you think ‘I haven’t had a cig since ….’ or ‘I can’t believe I can never have a cig again’ you are only punishing yourself. Accept that this is a positive step and change your focus away from cigarettes.
9. Establish new routines – what are you going to do instead of smoking during the 20 or times a day when you normally have a cigarette? e.g. after coffee, in the pub / bar, when waiting for a friend, when nervous or lacking confidence, when bored, as soon as you wake up etc. Break your old patterns of behaviour and stick to your new ones until old situations are re-written without cigarettes.
10. PREVENT relapse – No. 1 in this step is to STOP THINKING ABOUT CIGARETTES. Don’t put your headaches, stress, sore arm or stress down to lack of cigarettes.
And don’t lust after cigarettes by thinking things like – ‘Ohhh that cigarette looks soooooo good, she looks like she’s really enjoying that, I wish I could have one’ or ‘What am I going to do if my car gets broken into or, I split up with my partner etc.’
The other two things you can do to prevent relapse are to prevent weight gain and also prevent withdrawal symptoms – these two are easily prevented and do NOT have to be a part of quitting smoking.