Are you ready to stop?
From getting that extra mile into your jogging session to skipping that bedtime coughing fit, there are many reasons why people are quitting smoking. People are waking up to these facts. Since 2011, there's been a significant decline in the number of current smokers in all four countries of the UK. But as you're reading this, it's because you're still smoking and want advice on how to quit.
In those immortal words of Mark Twain, "Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times." As an addiction, smoking is one of the hardest bad habits to beat. So how to crack it? We take a look at some of the best strategies.
Step 0: Use those Damn Delightful 4 D’sWhether you’re a social smoker or you’re getting the urge to light one up while reading this - we have a surefire way of grounding you in the present and staving off that craving.
DelaySay you’ll smoke in 10 minutes. Remember, the urge to smoke will stick around whether you smoke or you don’t.
Deep BreathWhile this seems pretty 'yoga-bear' - it actually does work. Close your eyes and slowly inhale through your nose and out through your mouth. Imagine your lungs filling with fresh, clean air. Do this for 5 to 10 breaths.
DrinkDrink water or tea slowly, sip by sip by sip. Think about the temperature of the liquid and the texture on your tongue. Do this until the urge passes.
Get up and find an activity that takes your mind off smoking - from eating, reading or watching something or talking to someone - anything that makes you feel good in the present moment.
Step 1: Decide – cold-turkey or quitting aid?
If you've ever tried stopping before, you'll know withdrawal symptoms are pretty common, whether you go it alone or use a quitting aid. These include:
- Irritability and fatigue
- Hunger and cravings
- Feeling low and anxiety
- Headaches and dizziness
- Inability to concentrate
But don't let them get you down - think how good you'll feel once you're past them (somewhere between the toughness of Conan the Barbarian and the coolness of Grace Jones).
The symptoms can last 2 to 4 weeks, but they will get weaker over time. If you quit cold turkey, nicotine will be out of your body in about three days. If you are worried about this, you may want to consider using a quitting aid to reduce withdrawal symptoms and remember, that's fine - it's the smoking your kicking and quitting aids are there to help.
Step 2: Make a plan.Quitting smoking is one of the most challenging addictions to overcome. As with any great challenge, make a plan about how to go about doing it. One of the best things you can say to yourself at this point is - "Whether you stop today, or in the future - you will stop."
Manage your triggers.What are your triggers for smoking? What situations make you want to smoke? Think of the first day and then look ahead to the first week of quitting. The top 3 triggers are usually:
- Being around other smokers
- Alcohol use
- Emotional situations
Manage your Stress.
Stress is a well-known contributor to smoking. You may not control all the pressures in your life, but you can control how you deal with it. How can you alternatively manage stress? The top 3 stress relievers are:
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Getting support and talking through problems
- Managing your time and mainly, not taking on more than you can handle
Step 3: Remind yourself why you're quittingWhen triggers and withdrawal symptoms kick in, it's easy to lose sight of why you're quitting. Keep your motivation by reminding yourself of your reasons. The main reasons people quit smoking are:
- Live longer
- Feel better on a daily basis
- Save money
- Improve your looks
- Smell less like a medieval castle (unless you’re a GoT superfan)
Our Big Do's & Don'tsWe have a workplace full of ex-smokers (and others doing their best to quit). We've made a list of their sage advice on their most effective prevention tactics.
- Do fill the fridge and cupboard with treats as rewards for when you need something to take your mind off the urges.
- Do try saying to yourself "No, thank you, I don't smoke." (yeah, we know it's weird but it really does work).
- Do speak to friends and family about your progress and when you need a pick me up.
- Do take part in activities to keep your mind off smoking – walking, bike rides (and binge-watching the entirety of The Wire) can help.
- Do wash clothes and clean rooms that smell like smoke. Diffusers around the home can help massively!
- Do try and lighten your load of stresses for the first few weeks.
- Do celebrate your progress. Quitting smoking is a huge deal!
- Don't hang around with other smokers for the first few weeks - this is often the easiest part of relapsing.
- Don't assume that a slip is the end of everything. Smoking a cigarette or two is pretty standard when quitting.
- Don't be afraid to use quitting aids - they can be a godsend in a tight spot, and it's the "not smoking" that's significant.
- Don't be around people who scold or criticise you for smoking.
- Don't replace smoking with alcohol consumption - it usually leads right back to craving a cigarette.
- Don't keep lighters, ashtrays, and smoking reminders around your home or your car.