The smoke from a single cigarette contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that carry concerns and risks for your overall well-being and even 70 that have been proven to cause cancer. With each puff, you are introducing this list of chemicals into your body, setting yourself up for major health problems, disease and even an increased risk for early death. While the negative side effects of smoking can have a long-term impact on your life, quitting is the first step to turning this journey around and working towards a happier, healthier version of yourself.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that when surveyed in 2015, 68% of adult cigarette smokers in the United States wanted to quit smoking completely, with just over 55% successfully stopping for more than one day throughout 2015. While these attempts may not all be successful, it is a good indication of the changing views in society regarding cigarettes and tobacco use.
There are a number of great services available to Americans that are looking to take this important step. If you need support, counselling and information about quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). You can also browse the Quit Smoking Resources page on the CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use Website for information about quitting and inspiration.
Improve your Chances of Quitting with These 17 Habits:
#1 – Use Distraction
There will be times that you are hit with a strong craving. Rather than allowing yourself to dwell on the fact you can’t have a cigarette, find something that you enjoy to use as a distraction. This may include working out, cleaning, playing a game, walking your dog, music or reading a good book.
#2 – Share Your Goal with Others
Once you have decided to quit smoking, share this goal with your friends, family, coworkers and anyone else that you think will hold you accountable during this process. It is far easier to rationalize giving up our efforts if we are the only ones that know, but when you tell others you now have the additional motivation of knowing that they will hold you to your word. Furthermore, the people in your life can provide you with encouragement and strength when you are struggling most.
#3 – Set a Quit Date
It’s easy to stick to ‘lip service’ if you allow yourself to continually talk about quitting without actually taking steps to make it happen. By setting a quick date, you are creating the opportunity to hold yourself accountable. Draw a line in the sand and force yourself to take the first steps towards quitting.
#4 – Pick up A New Hobby
Often smokers refer to their habit as something that they do when they are bored, so remove the boredom factor. Find something new to occupy your mind. Learn a new language, pick up a new form of artistic expression, for example, starting painting or drawing, learn a musical instrument, or improve your ‘handy man/woman’ abilities around the home.
#5 – Limit Your Caffeine
Experts report that there appears to be a connection between smoking and the caffeine that you drink each day. Caffeine is also a stimulant, and too much caffeine can have bad effects on the body. Coffee may also be part of a daily routine that you are trying to break. For example, if every morning started with a large cup of coffee and a cigarette, allowing yourself that coffee may make you crave that cigarette even more.
#6 – Use a Nicotine Replacement
There are a handful of people that, for whatever reason, have decided that nicotine replacements are the ‘easy way out.’ The truth is that nicotine gum, lozenges and patches are valuable tools that can help you to succeed. Why limit the ways that you can improve your chances of success?
#7 – Create a Pro/Con List
A time-tested approach to making any major life decision, listing the pros and cons of smoking will help you to visualize all of the reasons that you want to and need to quit, as well as putting it into perspective that doing so will make you happier.
#8 – Stock up on Gum and Hard Candies
Sometimes all it will take to work through a craving is to keep your mouth busy. Carry a good supply of mint candies and gum so that you can reach for one anytime that you feel a craving coming on. Stash them in your desk drawer at work, your vehicle, and around your house so you will never be without, creating a new, healthier, habit.
#9 – Be Prepared with Healthy Snacks
Food is often a go-to solution for dealing with cigarette cravings, so why not further build upon the positive impact you have on your life by putting good, nutrition-packed snacks into your body instead of junk food? Snacks that are packed with protein like nuts can help you feel full faster and longer.
#10 – Embrace the Act of Mindfulness
Mindfulness refers to being completely aware of your thought, emotions, actions and surroundings at any given moment. You don’t worry about the past or obsess or the future, you simply ‘are’ here and now. This can be incredibly helpful while quitting smoking as you can identify the thoughts and feelings that often lead to a craving. Identifying these triggers can help you to prepare for them.
#11 – Try A Financial Incentive
One of the big perks to quitting smoking is the money that you will be saving. Allow yourself to take steps to highlight, for example, leave a jar somewhere in your home where you will see it regularly. Each day, place the money that you would have spent on cigarettes that day in the jar and watch it add up. You may be surprised how quickly it can add up.
#12 – Remind Yourself of How Far You’ve Come
Quitting smoking is no small feat! During this process you are going to experience highs and lows, challenges and major accomplishes. If you are currently caught up in a time of struggle and difficulty, look back on your many accomplishments up until this point.
#13 – Make Your Routine Work for You
Human beings are creatures of habit. We often get into a regular routine, establishing deep-rooted habits that we then find difficult to break. For a smoker, their cigarettes are part of those habits, something that they automatically tie into part of their day. In order to avoid your daily routine making quitting increasingly challenging, change it up entirely. Turning your routine upside down will shake up everything, giving you the opportunity to build something new free from smoking.
#14 – Cut Back Slowly
It would be great if everyone could quit cold turkey, however, for some that way of thinking would only set them up for failure. While quitting by cutting back may not feel like you are accomplishing as much, remember that even baby steps in the right direction are better than nothing at all.
#15 – Reward Yourself
Create a positive association with the act of giving up cigarettes by rewarding yourself for your efforts. Make a deal with yourself – Is there something that you have wanted for a while now like a new pair of shoes or an upgrade to your cellphone? Figure out how many days of cigarettes it would take to save the money necessary to purchase that item, and promise yourself that when you hit that day you will celebrate by picking it up.
#16 – Drink Tea
There is something inherently relaxing about curling up with a hot cup of tea. Use this to your advantage. With all of the different flavors and varieties out there, there is sure to be something for everyone. When you are enjoying it, allow everything else to fade into the background focusing just on that cup – the temperature, the flavor, the color and how it makes you feel. This can be a form of mini-meditation, relaxing your mind.
#17 – Stay Hydrated
Try to remember that, as you are taking the steps to quit, you are clearing your body of toxins. By keeping yourself properly hydrated you will flush the toxins from your body, allowing yourself to feel the positive effects of your recent change.