So, you’ve been a smoker for a while now and are struggling to kick the habit. You’ve probably had many days when you came so close to your goal, but something triggered a relapse. Well, we feel you. Starting is easy, but quitting can be tough. That being said, it’s not impossible. If you’re determined, we’re here to help!
Read on, for some practical solutions that will help keep you on track:
1. Identify Your Reasons:
For every smoker, the first step in quitting for good is identifying a motivation. When the motive to quit is bigger than the temptation to continue, that’s when you will stay focused with ease.
It could be your health, for the sake of a loved one or also because you deeply care about your impact on the environment. Ask yourself what motivates you to stay committed to your goal & keep reminding yourself of the purpose that drives you.
2. Go Gradual:
The reason regular smokers find it hard to quit overnight is the addictives present in a cigarette. The human body is such, that when you start to phase out an addiction, you are bound to undergo withdrawals. That’s why, it’s important to go slow, and also be prepared for some setbacks. Here are some ways you can prepare for these in advance:
-Take your friends and colleagues into confidence, and ask them to discourage you when you reach out for a smoke.
-Download a tracking app or set regular reminders on your phone to keep you focused
-Meditate & learn some relaxing breathing techniques
When you feel the tobacco cravings kick in, over-suppression can also lead to a relapse. One effective trick you can try is to play a ‘delay’ game with yourself. Every time you find yourself reaching out for a new smoke, tell yourself to wait for 10 minutes. Then, wing it for another 10 and occupy yourself with a task. This delay tactic can help make cravings pass!
3. Seek professional help:
For some, quitting an addictive habit like smoking can be a smooth and quick transition. Yet for many, this is a long journey filled with trials and errors. Be alert to your body’s reactions once you start to phase your cigarettes out. If you find your setbacks to be more frequent, the best approach is to speak to a professional for help.
Pay a visit to your family doctor, or reach out to a counsellor to keep guiding you through the process. If your withdrawal symptoms seem unmanageable to you, they often have solutions (and medication if required) that can help you stay on track. You can also join anti-addiction support groups or seek assistance from a helpline.
4. Avoid Triggers: You may not intend to smoke again, but certain events or people can trigger a craving. The best way to stay focused on your goal is to self-preserve. In this case, self-preservation would include avoiding the company of other chain smokers or hanging out with peers who may not be encouraging of your transition.
If you are a drinker, alcohol can also sometimes trigger a desire to smoke. For a while, try to stay away from drinking or attending parties where the chance of relapsing may be high. Also, make a note of the different situations that trigger your cravings for a smoke, so you can stay mindful to avoid them in the future.
5. Incentivize yourself: Taking on the challenge to quit needn’t always be about making big sacrifices and struggles. Make the journey fun for yourself by setting up mini-rewards and incentives that make you happy. There are many creative ways in which you can make this a memorable time for you. Here are few fun things you can try: - Make an ‘I’m Quittin’ It’ Jar! For every cigarette that you give up, place the equivalent money in the jar. When you see how much you’ve saved, it’ll strengthen your resolve. Bonus! Once the jar is full, you can always treat yourself to a gift! - Make a vision board and keep it at your desk or bedside- Add positive images, bright elements and motivating affirmations that’ll keep you strong! You can also add multiple goals to the board and keep track of them all together! - Maintain a list of short-term goals (For example: Go 2 days without smoking, Go 5 days without asking someone for a drag, etc.) and reward yourself with something small whenever you cross a milestone. - Do it with a friend! Rope in a buddy who also wants to quit and make it a point to track each other’s progress. You can also commit to doing a 28-day ‘no-smoking’ challenge together and turn it into a game of champions! When done together, the journey of quitting gets much easier.
6. Clean up! Now that you’ve decided to stay committed, it’s important to revamp your surroundings. Just like external triggers (parties and peer company) can add to temptation, so can your personal surroundings. Take a weekend or a day off to clean your home, car and office space. Get rid of all things that aid your smoking habit, such as ashtrays, lighters and old smoke packets. These elements serve as subtle reminders, so not having them around you, will ensure that you have fewer distractions and triggers. You can also use air fresheners and fragrances to get rid of any lingering smell that may lead to a craving. 7. Step Outdoors & Get Active: They say the best way to get rid of a bad habit is to develop a good one. Keeping yourself active is a great way of ensuring that the nicotine cravings are at bay. Every time you feel like you may give in and light a fresh cigarette, simply step out for a brisk walk or engage in some physical activity. If you have an adventurous streak, trekking is a must-try! Not only does it keep your endorphins charged up, but once you reach a high altitude, you will by default, be discouraged from smoking. Some trekking organisers also have a strict no-smoking rule as it can also be a fire safety hazard when passing through forests & green patches. Win-win right? If you aren’t a big fan of exercise, pursuing an outdoor hobby can help keep you active too. Try your hand at gardening, play a sport or go cycling with a friend! Exercise also releases endorphins, which are the body’s ‘happy’ hormones. It keeps withdrawal-related mood swings under control.
8. Adopt a cleaner diet:
Many nutritionists claim that the kind of foods we eat can play a big role in our cravings. When you eat more clean, whole foods, the body starts to detoxify from within. Junk food and aerated drinks can often intensify your cravings for a cigarette.
Besides being healthy overall, it is also crucial for you to maintain your minimum calorie requirements for the day. Relying on quick snacks over holistic meals can leave your body with insufficient nutrition & fuel for the day. When you don’t eat well, the lack of energy can sometimes lead to false cravings that result in a relapse.
9. Accept emotional support: Quitting an addiction of any nature requires both effort and support. Lean on a friend, family member or peer who you can count on. Be open about your withdrawals, cravings and feelings. Often, simply talking about your feelings can help lessen the load.
Many smokers also tend to take up smoking as a way to deflect from daily stresses or emotional pain points. If you are one of them, it is always good to stay connected with someone who can comfort you. For pet owners, spending more time playing with their pets or even simply taking your dog for a walk has been claimed to be a highly stress-busting practice. If you don’t have a pet at home but love animals anyway, spend some time volunteering at a shelter or pet-sitting for a friend. It’s a great way to help yourself & others in the process too.
10. Try natural alternatives: There are several alternatives to help you fight nicotine cravings. Nicotine gums have now become popular as replacement therapy, but the disposal of gums & their packets are often done in environmentally irresponsible ways.
A great way to stay conscious is to try natural alternatives to combat nicotine cravings. It is said that simply keeping the mouth occupied by chewing cloves or munching on raw veggies like carrots and celery can keep you distracted from the urge to smoke. Some have also reported success with black pepper essential oils & fresh lime juice to help reduce the severity of nicotine cravings.
At the end of the day, the most important thing for any of us to remember is that nothing is above the gift of good health. If you are genuinely seeking freedom from addictive habits that are affecting your quality of life, then now is as good a time as any. Don’t give in to excuses and take control! After all, why let one tiny cigarette have so much power over you?!