1. Firstly, you have to want to give up smoking. It’s no good thinking that you should give up but you lack the motivation to actually want to give up. Think of what’s important to you – your motivation can range from wanting to save money; to wanting to lead a better, healthier lifestyle; to thinking of your children so that you’re still around when they grow up; or someone close to you has been diagnosed with cancer. Use this motivation when you feel your willpower start to crumble.
2. Secondly, try and identify when and why you smoke so you can be aware of triggers or situations in which you are more likely to want to light up. For example, you may smoke because you’re addicted to nicotine, or you always smoke after a meal, or when you’re bored, or after a few drinks, or it’s the first thing you do when you wake up, or to keep your hands busy, or you’ve been smoking out of habit since you can remember, or you smoke because all your friends do and you think it’s cool, or because you think it helps you deal with stress.
3. Once you’ve identified when and why it is you smoke, and you’ve committed yourself to quitting, you need to find what works for you. Say you normally light up after a meal; plan another activity that will keep you busy until your craving passes – go for a walk, brush your teeth or chew gum. If you smoke after a couple of drinks, cut down on your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether. Ask friends and family to refrain from smoking around you. Avoid stressful situations. Remember that your craving will peak just before it subsides.
4. Some people quit cold turkey, whereas others prefer to gradually cut down their smoking before they stop completely. Others find that nicotine replacement therapy such as gum, patches, prescription tablets (check with your doctor), sprays, acupuncture, meditation or hypnosis have been effective to help them stop. You need to find what works best for you. A great idea is to save the money you would normally spend on cigarettes and at the end of each month reward yourself with a good book, a visit to the movies, new clothes, a day at the spa, a visit to the hairdresser, tickets to your favorite sports events, etc.
5. Keep yourself busy, especially your hands, to prevent from reaching for a cigarette. There are countless ways to keep yourself busy – start an exercise routine, revive an old hobby, play with your pets, or involve yourself in volunteer work.
6. Be prepared for an increased appetite – nicotine suppresses hunger and people tend to put on weight when they stop smoking. Carry healthy, low-fat snacks around with you, such as fruit or low-fat crackers so you won’t be tempted to light up or pig out.
7. Keep focusing on your goal of giving up smoking and on the benefits of quitting – the health gains are immeasurable, you can finally get rid of that hacking cough in the morning, your partner will love kissing you, your teeth won’t stain a nasty yellow-brown color, you’ll be able to smell and taste your food, and you’ll save a ton of money.
8. So what are you waiting for? Kick the habit! No ifs, ands or butts about it! Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things to do, so if you want to stop and you’re seriously thinking about giving up, that’s a great step in the right direction – well done! Once you’ve made the decision to quit, you need to commit yourself to it; sometimes you’ll have to recommit yourself to it each new day – or, on those tough days – many, many times a day. Most people who try and quit will relapse, so don’t beat your self up about it, just quit again. Also, don’t try and make it a New Year’s resolution or start “tomorrow” or on “Monday”. There is no better time than now to quit smoking once and for all.