If you are a smoker, the new year could be a good time to think about quitting. It is a known fact that smoking causes cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, poor bone health, poor teeth and gum health, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. A firm decision and a steadfast resolve are required to quit smoking. Here are 10 tips that can help:
- Reduce nicotine. In the weeks leading up to the chosen stop date, try to wean yourself off nicotine by smoking fewer cigarettes or not smoking at all during large chunks of the day. Practice not smoking while doing activities that usually involve lighting up, such as driving or breaks at work. Brand switching is also an option and an easy way to reduce nicotine.
- Try smoking cessation aids such as nicotine patches or gum. Discover if the addiction is more physiological or mental. This knowledge can help you strategize effective ways of quitting.
- Change your thought processes to make quitting easier. Don’t use cigarettes as guides for lengths of time. For example, remember that your commute lasts 20 minutes, rather than three cigarettes.
- If you are preparing to quit by cutting back, think of yourself as a nonsmoker who smokes an occasional cigarette as opposed to a smoker who isn’t smoking as much. You must accept that you will no longer be a smoker and come to terms that smoking is no longer part of your daily routine. Thinking makes it so.
- Avoid tobacco temptations and places associated with smoking. It is nearly impossible to surround yourself with old smoking buddies and not smoke. It may be best to wait inside or socialize in a non-smoking environment.
- Get support from family and friends. Develop your own support network. When having a craving, verbalize it and ask for help from those around you to resist the temptation. If your spouse smokes, quit together.
- Don’t worry about weight gain right now. Many smokers who quit put on a few pounds. Nicotine is a stimulate that decreases appetite and increases metabolism. Focus on quitting and then tackle the weight gain later. Incorporate healthy “snacking” because you will tend to be hungrier and you will need something to do with your hands. Planning ahead is very important.
- Don’t forget the reasons to quit. Is it for better health? Is it to live longer and see your kids grow up? Is it to spend more time with loved ones? Is it to reduce your risk of cancer? Focus on those reasons as you work toward dropping the habit. Write them down and post them where you can visually see them everyday.
- There’s no smoking “just one” puff of a cigarette after quitting. That one puff may restart the addiction and nullify all the hard work. That one moment of weakness is not worth the risk.
- Join a support group. Cone Health is among many organizations that offer smoking cessation classes. Having personalized quitting strategies and a support group will make it easier to quit for good.
About the Author
Rachel Marquez, BS, MPH is a Community Outreach Coordinator at the Alamance Regional Lifestyle Center