Smoking tobacco is as much a psychological habit as it is a physical addiction. The act of smoking is rooted in a daily routine and, at the same time, the nicotine found in cigarettes offers a boost that’s temporary but difficult to control. The elimination of nicotine from your body can cause you to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and, as a consequence, a great deal of anxiety. To successfully quit smoking, you will need to deal with both the habit and the addiction – changing your behavior and treating the nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Here are seven tips for you to both plan and achieve your goal of quitting smoking.
- Know your motivation. When the urge to smoke strikes you, your mint will tell you “What’s the harm in smoking one more cigarette?” and you’ll quickly forget why you were wanting to quit smoking so badly. You need to have a strong grasp on why you want to quit smoking before you get the urge to smoke suddenly. Is it for your wife and children? For your Florida cardiologist? For your health? To be better able to exercise? For the girl you like who doesn’t like smokers? Try to have a good reason or reasons for quitting. Make yourself a list. Print it. Put it on your wall. And remember your reasons every day and every time you feel the need to smoke.
- Make a plan. You can’t just say “I’m going to quit today” – if only it were that simple. You need to prepare yourself. Plan a system of rewards, a system of support. Have someone close at hand who you can call if you’re anxious and feel the urge to smoke. If you expect to resolve this type of thing when the urge to begin smoking again strikes you, you’ll be lost. You need to be ready and have potential solutions at hand for when this occurs.
- Clean your house and your things. Once you’ve smoked your last cigarette, get rid of your ashtrays and lighters. Wash any clothes that still smell like smoke, and clean your rugs, curtains and upholstery. Air out your house to free yourself from the smell. You won’t want to see or smell anything that could remind you of smoking.
- Don’t do it alone. Tell your friends, family members, and co-workers that you’re trying to quit smoking. Your breath will make the difference. You can even join some type of support group. These groups can help you identify and plan strategies for quitting.
- Replace bad habits with good ones. What do you usually do when you’re stressed? If your immediate response is to light a cigarette, you should find something to replace it. Breathe deeply, give yourself neck and shoulder massages, or do some type of exercise (which even helps eliminate toxins from the body). Other habits, like the first thing you do in the morning or what you do in the car or in places where you usually smoke, should be replaced with more positive actions. You can turn up the music, eat a sweet treat, or do whatever you can that would replace smoking and works for you.
- Avoid alcohol and coffee. Certain activities can aggravate your desire to smoke. Alcohol is the most common trigger factor, and because of this you should try to reduce your consumption of alcohol during your first few weeks of quitting smoking. If the same thing happens to you with coffee, replace it with tea for a few days. And if you usually smoke after meals. Find something that you can do instead – like brushing your teeth or chewing gum.
- Try it again and again. It’s very common to give up. Many smokers try time and time again until they’re able to stop definitively. Examine the emotions and circumstances that are causing you to relapse. Use this as an opportunity to reaffirm your commitment to quitting. Once you make the decision to try again, set yourself a “date to quit smoking” within the next month and go for it.
Quitting smoking has enormous benefits for the body – even if you’ve been smoking for twenty or thirty years, stopping can completely change the way you feel and can significantly reduce your risk of cardiac and lung diseases. Smoking is known to be a prime factor in the development of a number of heart conditions and problems with the circulatory system, including:
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
- Carotid artery stenosis – the narrowing of the carotid arteries supplying blood to the brain
- Atherosclerosis – the narrowing of the arterial walls around the heart
- Angina – tightness and pain in the chest
With more and more adults choosing to retire in southern Florida, cardiologists in Florida see many older patients with cardiac problems related to lifelong tobacco use. Quitting now could help you take strides toward a healthier future and protect your family as well as yourself.