Trying to quit smoking is a very lengthy process. It took me several years while for others it seemed to only take a few weeks or months. I’ve learned, the exact time frame that it takes to quit can vary greatly but what is important is ensuring that you are coming up with a plan to combat your urges to smoke. At some point in your experience trying to quit you will encounter a situation where the urge to smoke is very strong. How you handle this situation will go a long way towards your ultimate success. Being prepared for the urge to smoke will ensure that you have a plan to keep your willpower strong and continue on your path to quit smoking successfully.
Tip 1. Take the time to decide exactly when you typically smoke. For example, after meals, after a jog around the block, or even after your shower each morning. Knowing when you typically smoke will put you in a good position to create a plan to combat the urge. For me, I would wake up in the morning and have 2 cigarettes with my morning coffee. I would go all day (almost) without smoking until I would leave work and smoke in the car all the way home and into the evening. The first thing I did was stop smoking in the car. The rest followed later when I quit for good, cold turkey.
Tip 2. Create a plan of attack. This could be something as simple as a stress ball for your hands, or even just a piece of hard candy to keep your mouth busy. If you really enjoy the taste and feeling of a clean mouth you could try brushing your teeth each time you want to smoke, or suck on a mint flavored candy, which will freshen your breath. When I finally made up my mind and said enough, I needed to keep my hands busy so I picked up the art of crocheting – yep that’s right! Can you picture it?? I crocheted A LOT for a year straight, all of my spare time. Lots of washcloths, neck cowls and blankets – can you guess what I gave out at Christmas time?
Tip 3. Avoid the temptations that lurk. Avoid going into tobacco stores, and also try to limit the amount of time you are around other smokers. If you are continuously around cigarettes, it will be much harder to resist temptation. This was a hardest one for me. I had to stop drinking at the same time. Yes, imagine quitting cold turkey and no drinking at the same time! Keeping my hands and mind busy, meditating, exercising and lots of LONG walks were so helpful for me.
Tip 4. Clean your house, car and garage of all smoking instruments. This means all ashtrays, lighters, matches and get rid of the smell of cigarettes. I also ran every piece of clothing I owned through a series of laundry cycles.
Tip 5. If you have a place where you typically smoke when you are at home, think about rearranging the area. If you are able to break the routine of the situation, you will be able to resist temptation much better. This works best if you always are in the habit of smoking in the exact same place, such as a living room looking out a window. If you move the chair to a different area of the room, or refocus the center of the room then you can help to avoid the temptation to smoke whenever you are sitting in the chair looking out the window.
Tip 6. Write down your goal to quit smoking. This may seem like a minor detail but in reality, it can go a very long way towards ensuring that you keep your priority to quit smoking at the top of your agenda. If you just tell yourself that you want to quit smoking, you are more likely to cheat and ultimately give into the urge to light up again. If you have written your goal down, you are going to be more likely to actually follow it. This goes for quitting smoking, losing weight, changing your exercise routine or anything else. Written down goals can improve accountability significantly.
Tip 7. DO NOT DISCOUNT YOURSELF. If you are absolutely certain that you can succeed you will be much more capable of the success that you need. It is important to believe that you can succeed. This will help you to stay strong anytime a serious urge kicks in. If you decide to slip up consciously, you are going to find it is much harder to gain back any slack that you have cut for yourself. However, if you hold fast to your dedication to quit smoking you will find that each time you have an urge it is easier to handle.
If you are taking this time while we all #stayathome to quit smoking, I encourage you, applaud you and wish you every success. It’s been 8 years for me and I’ve never felt better!