We all know that cigarettes are harmful, but giving them up can be a daunting prospect for habitual smokers. Saying goodbye to cigarettes may be one of the hardest things you ever do, but it’s also one of the best things you can do for yourself. Not sure where to get started? Here are some top tips to help you stop smoking once and for all:
Start with baby steps.
Cold turkey is great for a sandwich, but it’s not the best strategy for kicking an addictive habit. Even though you may be tempted to ditch cigarettes completely, quitting abruptly can bring on unpleasant symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Instead, start by cutting back on the amount you smoke each day. It’s a less drastic approach that gives your body time to adjust, lessening your chances of a relapse.
Reach for a replacement.
Nicotine withdrawal can make you feel cranky, anxious and depressed. If you’re having a hard time resisting the urge to light up, nicotine replacement therapy can be a good option to help ease your cravings. Whether you choose gum, lozenges or patches, adding nicotine replacement products to your smoking cessation effort can significantly improve your likelihood of quitting successfully. If you’d prefer to cut nicotine out of the equation entirely, ask your doctor about medication options — there are several prescription drugs that can reduce withdrawal symptoms without any nicotine.
Try to avoid triggers.
Do you tend to reach for a cigarette with your morning coffee, after dinner or when enjoying a cocktail with friends? You’re not alone. Smoking is often a companion activity to mealtime and leisure activities. It can be tricky to divorce unhealthy habits from normal activities, but changing up your routine can help. Chewing gum or brushing your teeth immediately after meals can stop you from giving in to A.M. temptation or sneaking a post-supper smoke. Since alcohol is one of the most common smoking triggers, consider avoiding it completely when you first quit. Tossing your ashtrays and lighters will help you eliminate any tangible reminders of smoking.
If at first you don’t succeed…
It’s completely normal to have a relapse. The important thing is getting back on the horse and trying again. Even slip-ups can be turned into something productive — identifying the feelings and events that caused you to backslide can help you better manage your cravings in the future. Leaning on your family, friends and co-workers for support can help strengthen your resolve to try even harder to reach your goal.
Giving up cigarettes is tough, but the benefits of quitting are well worth the hassle. It won’t just save you money — it could save your life. Smoking cessation can improve your health almost immediately. Within just three months of quitting, you’ll enjoy lower blood pressure and improved lung function. In the long term, giving cigarettes the heave-ho can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. Now’s as good a time as any to get started! Talk to your doctor and make a gameplan to stop smoking and start living a healthier lifestyle.