It’s time now to Put Down That Lighter And Make A Plan Stan…
This is the real deal. If you have identified your reason for quitting cigarettes, have read up on the immediate benefits and what to expect during withdrawal, you’re ready to put down that lighter and make a plan to actually do it.
If you haven’t read Parts 1, 2 and 3 do that first. Here are the links:
Days 1 and 2
Examine your smoking behavior for the first two days. Every time you light up, ask yourself:
➡ Why am I smoking this cigarette?
➡ Would this be an easy one or a difficult one to do without?
➡ If I did not smoke this cigarette, what would I do instead?
➡ At least once today, use your weapons to manage the urge to smoke.
➡ During the five minutes that it will take for the urge to pass, try out some of your arsenals. Try one, or all, or find a combination that works for you.
Today is the big testing day.
➡ If you haven’t already tried it, skip those one or two cigarettes that you feel may be the toughest to give up in your daily routine. Pick the ones that you rated “difficult” during your monitoring period.
➡ Remember, this is a practice period, and you must not get upset if you are unable to give up a difficult cigarette. You have to practice and experiment with your different weapons to realize how you can be more effective.
➡ If you found skipping that cigarette very difficult or even failed in the end, review any factor that got in the way of your success. The most common causes of difficulty or failure that potential quitters face are:
- Chemical properties of addiction
➡ When you do not have that cigarette, you feel lousy. If you are a heavy smoker, a nicotine patch may help to relieve your bad feelings.
- Social pressures
➡ You may find yourself in a situation (card game, party, coffee break) during which you would normally smoke. It may help to let others know of your desire to quit, and also your reasons for quitting.
➡ Enlisting the aid of a non-smoker to confide in may also help. Make sure that he or she is aware of your goals so that they do not say or do anything that will have a negative impact on your desire to quit.
➡ If you feel that you may not resist the social pressures of smoking, consider the option of giving up these social encounters for two or three weeks until the urge passes and you can be comfortable again.
- Tension and negative emotion
A crisis occurs during your work or personal day, and one of the main reasons for you to smoke has been tension reduction.
➡ Try to deal with your negative emotions and use the tension reducing methods that we talked about earlier.
➡ Get away from the area that the tension is associated with. Take a walk, or go to another room. You may also find that nicotine gum will give you enough tension relief to get through.
Days 5, 6, and 7
➡ If you started as a one pack a day smoker, cut back to ten cigarettes per day, or less. The fewer the better.
➡ During days 5 and 6, set your goals toward achieving positive results on day 7. Maintain your smoking record during these three days, and continue to decrease your dependency on nicotine.
What do you do if you still have doubts?
This is probably due to your chemical dependency on nicotine. It is a highly powerful drug, and many factors have been working together to make you dependent.
➡ Discuss with your doctor the feasibility of a patch or nicotine gum.
Nicotine is the hook that has gotten you to smoke which carries the harmful effects to your body. With the help of the patch or the gum, you will have all the tools you need to successfully quit.
➡ The patch or gum will give you a steady influx of nicotine into your system, which will be reduced slowly over a period of several weeks.
NOTE; Pregnant women should not use the gum or patch. Smokers with any form of heart disease should consult with a physician before using.
Before you use some the techniques listed here you should consult with your doctor.
Some of the tips on how to stop smoking will involve the input of your doctor but others don’t. Whether they do involve their input or not you should consult your doctor about your current health and be sure that you are able to complete these without risk of further injury.
Research has found that there are two major factors that predict your chances of success.
2. And you must have the confidence to know that you can do it.
➡ You may not have stopped smoking before – in fact, because you want to stop smoking now I know you haven’t! – but, you have accomplished many things in your life. There have been many things that you have done and done well.
➡ Draw on those times to know that you CAN do this. Even if you falter and take another cigarette or two it isn’t if you’ll fail but how you react when you do. Are you going to get up and finish?
➡ Now find your reasons – both the reasons why you want to quit and the reasons you smoke in the first place. If you can identify why you smoke, and then eliminate the reasons you’ll be able to face those reasons when the cravings come calling.
➡ Set a date and a goal. You know you want to quit but do you know when? You have to do more than think about quitting. It helps to set a date and a goal of when you’ll quit and HOW you’ll quit.
➡ You are guaranteed to fail and feel guilty if you decide today to quit and smoke your last cigarette right now but don’t have a plan, a support mechanism or a process to complete your task.
➡ Once you know you are going to quit, find a program or medication or a process you will use to combat the addiction to nicotine and the cravings that will come from it. There are medications, support groups, patches, gum and even magnets that use acupressure to decrease the cravings and desire for a cigarette.
➡ You found your motivation to quit earlier and now write that motivation down and keep it in a place where you will be reminded. Use that when the cravings come and you’re tempted to run to the corner grocery store.
➡ Psychologically and physiologically you can make yourself feel better instantly and decrease your cravings by taking three very deep breaths. This means that you have a method at your fingertips to decrease your cravings and improve your health.
➡ Take 48 hours to clear the nicotine from your system (or use nicotine patches, gum, lozenge, spray, inhaler or straws) and stay away from anything that reminds you of cigarettes. That could be friends, relatives who smoke, television, alcohol, or stress.
➡ If you can pack up and go camping for the weekend or someplace where you can be outdoors and breathe in fresh air, that’s the best option available.
Smokers often use breaks at work to grab a cigarette.
➡ Instead, grab a walk or exercise of some nature. Get your body moving and keep it moving.
➡ During your work break, you will crave a cigarette – it’s a psychological event, not physical. You have to break the associations that go with the craving by developing a new association.
➡ Watch self-talk. Sometimes you may have used smoking to get through a stressful situation. When you feel or ‘hear’ yourself saying you need a cigarette to get through this shout “STOP’ in your head. These are old thoughts and an old, very unhealthy way of dealing with stress.
➡ Find a way to reward yourself when you pass milestones such as a week, a day or a month.
Before you quit set up distractions for yourself that don’t involve smoking or situations associated with smoking.
➡ Find 6 things you’d like to read, enjoy, try or appreciate and keep them in mind when you begin to feel cravings – or to keep yourself occupied and motivated.
➡ Each time you feel the need for a cigarette, get physical. The act of requiring more oxygen, breathing deeply and moving muscles will help to decrease cravings and motivate you to continue.
➡ Take up running, walking, rowing, stair climbing – it doesn’t matter, as long as the doctor approves and you have access to the activity – go for it!
How to Handle the Urges
Handling the emotional as well as the psychological urges to grab a cigarette can be difficult – but never impossible. There are several tips that you can use and, when planned, they work wonderfully.
Do NOT wait until the urge is so great that you can’t figure out how to stop yourself. Instead, choose several of these tips and keep them with you at all times.
➡ Don’t fantasize about the cigarette but instead visualize what life would have been like as an addicted smoker, clothing filled with stench and lungs slowly turning black with tar.
Smoking is unacceptable in many circles; you’ll be inhaling thousands of poisonous chemicals into your lungs and poisoning the children and friends who choose to stay with you.
➡ Consider all of the consequences when you think about smoking again or watching another smoker. Feel pity and not envy.
➡ Consider the life they are leading as compared to the healthier, simpler and wealthier life you are living today.
➡ Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and exhale as if you had just taken your first puff on a cigarette.
Did you know that part of the feeling you get from smoking is a direct result of taking a deep breath? A deep breath allows you to take in a maximum amount of oxygen, and exhaling lets out large quantities of carbon dioxide. This results in a feeling of relaxation. Try it, you’ll see.
➡ Take a sip of water several times during this five minute period. It can help to diminish the need to smoke and gives you something to do with your hands. The extra water will also help to flush the nicotine out of your body.
➡ Put something in your mouth that has no calories, such as a stirrer, gum, a toothpick, or another substitute for a cigarette.
➡ Get busy with something, anything, to keep you busy for the next five minutes – walk, talk with a friend, talk with your boss. Make it something active and not passive – do NOT read a book or magazine or watch television. DO – use a medicine ball, take a walk, brush the dog, etc.
➡ As long as it does not lead to a craving, chew a piece of gum or a piece of hard candy. Life Savers work well.
➡ Get up and move around for five minutes. It will help the urge to smoke to pass
➡ Use a nicotine patch as replacement therapy.
There are multiple options available to help you stop smoking…Don’t forget my mantra…
Coming Up: Part 6 – Addressing Weight Gain When Giving Up Smoking