It is time for new years resolutions. Many people look at the new year as a fresh start, a time to change, a time to get healthy. Quitting smoking is not easy. In many ways smoking is as difficult to quit as using drugs which are often considered far more addicting. One reason for this is social stigma, it is still legal to smoke.
Many people will quit smoking January 1st and in a short time will be smoking again. The reason is often that people may have quit smoking but they did not alter their lifestyle. All the lifestyle cues that tell them that now is the time for a smoke remain. Changing the lifestyle around smoking is critical to success for many people. It is not just about willpower. The willpower to quit takes a lot of effort and is hard to maintain. If however the cues to smoke are removed, then less willpower is required. It is also important to make this a positive process. How will not smoking add to my life, as opposed to the negative- “I have to give up smoking”.
For those who really want to quit, the recommendation is to start a month long program of changing your life so that you are ready to quit January 31. There are many helpful hints. Try to find the changes that work best for you and help you lay the groundwork so that when you do quit smoking you will succeed.
- Get support: enlist friends, family and coworkers to support you in quitting. Ask them to be positive and supportive about your decision.
- Choose the tools that you like, (patches, gum, acupuncture, hypnosis, electronic cigarettes etc.)
- Do a self evaluation: Why do you smoke? When do you smoke? Which cigarettes do you like the most? What social, stress or lifestyle factors affect your smoking?
- Look at your evaluation, start changing the factors that most impact your smoking.
- Start eliminating the least desired cigarettes
- Replace a habit with a habit. Find healthier habits to replace smoking. Use this time to set positive goals, — “Now that I am going to quit smoking I am going to start working on _______ which is something I always wanted to do.”
- Change cigarette brands. “Organic” or chemical free cigarettes can provide a transitional step towards quitting.
- Make smoking inconvenient, keep cigarettes out of reach, find ways to give yourself time to let the desire to smoke pass before you reach for the cigarette.
- Work on decreasing your overall smoking. Smoke fewer cigarettes, you can even cut cigarettes in half to decrease the overall amount of smoking.
Once you do quit, there are incentives to keep you off the cigarettes.
- Paint your walls to eliminate the smoke smell and give you the incentive to not to start smoking and mess up the newly painted walls.
- Start a savings account for something special and pay into it what you would have spent on cigarettes.
- When you have saved $100 by not smoking, take a $100 bill and stash it in your wallet. When the urge to smoke is overwhelming, take out the money and spend it on something fun and distracting.
- Encourage a friend to call or text you daily to cheer on your continued success.
- Plan a “I quit smoking for a year party” with friends scheduled for next year, send out the invites now.
Quitting smoking can be one of many steps to improve your health and life. There is no better time than the present to start working on your future.