Smoking is a dangerous habit, and by now we all know it. We know that smoking cigarettes causes lung disease, cancer, heart disease and a number of other health problems. Although smoking rates have dropped significantly over the last few decades, there are still over 400,000 adults smoking in this country and it is still the leading cause of preventable deaths. We can account for this discrepancy by the fact that quitting is hard. Nicotine is highly addictive and quitting has a relapse rate of around 80 percent. If you have been trying to quit, here are some expert tips to get you through it.
- Set a date and make a plan. If you simply decide one day to quit and to do it right then and there, you are destined to fail. You are more likely to be successful if you pick a date in the near future. Cut back on your smoking a little bit each day until you reach the quit date. This will help ease you into it and will also give you time to come up with a plan for not smoking.
- Try nicotine replacement products. These are the products, like the patch or nicotine gum, that provide you with a hit of nicotine to reduce your withdrawal symptoms and cravings for a smoke. The withdrawal you experience when you stop smoking is very uncomfortable and actually lowers your self-control, making reaching for another cigarette almost a given. If you’re not sure which to try, talk to your doctor.
- Get support. Going it alone is not easy when it comes to kicking any addiction. Tell all of your friends and family members that you are quitting so they can support you and help hold you accountable. Also consider getting professional support. Talk to your doctor about quitting and think about working with a nicotine treatment specialist. Your doctor can recommend a professional or a program to try.
- Find and avoid your triggers. Triggers are important for addiction. These are places, times or feelings that make you reach for a cigarette. As you work toward quitting, keep a diary of when you smoke, what’s going on, where you are and how you feel. This will help you figure out what triggers you to have a smoke, like drinking with friends or having an afternoon cup of coffee. Once you have quit, avoid these triggers and replace them with new situations that don’t have an association with smoking. Triggers are powerful and have caused many people to fail at quitting.
- Managing stress is important when quitting smoking. When you feel stressed out, you are more likely to reach for a cigarette. One of the best ways to reduce stress and to feel better overall is to exercise. Start slowly if you aren’t very active. Go for a walk every day and build up to more strenuous exercise. Whenever you feel a craving coming on, get up and walk around. Sitting still will only make it worse.
- Try an app. Your smartphone can be a valuable resource when you’re trying to quit. There are apps for everything, including smoking cessation. Most have not been created by experts in addiction, but many can be helpful. Just don’t rely on an app to be your sole method for quitting. Use it as one of many tools.
Quitting cigarettes may be one of the most difficult things you ever do, but it is also the most important and life-changing. Eventually you will feel better and your health will be much improved. Start today by using these tips and formulate a plan to stop smoking forever.