Most smokers understand that cigarettes cause a myriad of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, sexual dysfunction and countless others. Still, the vast majority of smokers have great difficulty quitting, thanks to physical and psychological addictions. To increase your odds of successfully achieving a smoke-free life, employ the following strategies:
- Set a date. Instead of quitting right away, make a “quit date contract” and create a plan for success.
- List your reasons. Make an honest account of why you want to quit, whether it’s for your child, your partner or yourself.
- Stop buying cartons. As your quit date approaches, start purchasing single packs instead of cigarette cartons. Decrease your smoking frequency to prepare your brain and body.
- Record your habits. Create a list of when you tend to smoke, so you’ll be able to plan activities and distractions around these “dangerous” times.
- Think of activities. Get busy when you get cravings. Whether it’s brushing your teeth, washing your car, knitting, reading or having sex, any activity is going to help you get through a tough bout of craving.
- Quit when you’re feeling positive. Studies suggest people have more success quitting smoking if they stop when they’re in a good mood.
- Remove reminders. When your quit date arrives, throw out anything and everything that reminds you of smoking.
- Create visual motivation. Save every dime you’d normally spend on cigarettes in a large transparent glass jar.
- Think of your past. Remind yourself of difficult situations you’ve overcome throughout your life to generate self-confidence.
- Eat. Research suggests that eating a small snack can help blunt intense cravings. You can also try sucking a lollipop or chewing on a straw or toothpick.
- Play a game. When cravings hit, play solitaire or some other type of game on your computer. This can be especially effective during breaks at work.
- Create a smoke-free environment. Don’t allow others to use tobacco in your home or car, and ask that they avoid smoking in your presence.
- Try alternative tactics. Studies suggest alternative therapies such as acupuncture and Avena sativa (oat) extract can help habitual tobacco smokers quit more easily.
It may sound morbid, but fear is one of the best motivators for quitting tobacco use. Many times, smokers put negative thoughts out of their heads, so they can maintain their destructive habits. Force yourself to look at pictures of people who’ve suffered health tragedies related to smoking. By getting real with yourself, you can tackle the problem with a serious attitude and increase your chances for lasting success.