Quitting Smoking is a Process — Some Tips to Help You
It’s important to remember that the whole business of becoming an ex-smoker is a process, and not an overnight one at that. You begin by removing the cigarettes and not smoking anymore. After a short while, the physical addiction and cravings start to leave. Finally, you plateau and reach the maintenance stage. But to get to this point, you must work on the triggers, the things that make you want to break down and have a cigarette.
Distraction works very well. It can get you past the point of desperation and back to the calm resolve you need to remain clean. Your feelings of vulnerability may last for a few minutes, for several days, or for even longer if you are going through a stressful period in your life.
Reinforcement is another valuable tool for avoiding a relapse. You want to remind yourself of the wonderful gifts you are getting by remaining smoke-free. It can be easy to forget why you quit if you are having a bad day and all you can think of is how a cigarette could calm you down and make you feel better.
Your body’s memory of the pleasures of smoking can push its way up into your consciousness, sometimes when you least expect it. It says “Hello. Remember me? Wouldn’t you like to get to know me again?” So you must be on guard and prepared with an answer. Yes, you remember how you had trouble breathing and had a cough. You remember how awful it felt to be trapped in your addiction. You remember the stink and the stigma that surrounded you.
Sometimes quitting smoking can be a moment-by-moment struggle. It has been described by many ex-smokers as the most difficult thing they ever had to do.
The following tips are from people who have quit and stayed quit. You may think some of these tips sound silly and you may have already tried others. But remember, every attempt to quit is a fresh one, so don’t be too quick to dismiss any particular idea. It just might be the one that helps you get through it this time.
- Drink a big glass of water
- Take a brisk walk
- Suck on a lollipop or cinnamon stick
- Write your feelings down
- Stick a toothpick in your mouth
- Smell some flowers
- Repeat a prayer in your head
- Rub some mint on your wrist and smell it
- Light a match and blow it out
- Chew some sugarless gum or eat a mint
- Take a deep breath and hold it, then exhale like you’re breathing out smoke
- Roll your shoulders, loosen up, stretch
- Eat an orange or some celery sticks (Keep various fruits and veggies handy)
- Breathe in slowly through your nose; exhale slowly through your mouth
- Brush teeth, floss, rinse out your mouth
- Visualize your lungs taking in oxygen
- Take a two-inch-square sticky note or other small piece of paper, and roll it up like a cigarette. Now hold it, puff through it, and marvel at the absurdity of it all
- Tell your friends about how you quit smoking; when you have others cheering you on, you are more likely to get through the rough times
- Think about how you’ll feel tomorrow if you give in versus if you stay clean
You may have noticed that there are quite a few oral tips listed. Smoking was a very oral experience for you, and it was carried out many times each day. It’s okay to pay extra attention to your mouth for a while. You are retraining your body, giving it new behaviors to learn and latch onto.
Remember, you are doing whatever it takes. Even if you find yourself addicted to lollipops or chocolate for a while, getting a few extra cavities or gaining a little weight is far less dangerous to your overall health than is getting cancer or emphysema.
Another tool is to write down all of the reasons you want to smoke, then list all of the reasons you don’t. Repetition is very helpful here, so do it each time you’re struggling, not just once.
Remember, the struggle won’t last forever. You will notice that you think about smoking less and less often as each day passes. Give yourself time. It gets better. Much better.
You may have some ideas of your own. Jot them down, and refer to them often.