Keys to Quitting Smoking

The 4 key steps to take to ensure quitting success

If you are like most people who smoke, you already know that tobacco is not good for your health. You probably have thought about quitting many times before.

While quitting smoking is tough, it can be done. Below are four helpful tips to make sure you successfully put those cigarettes away–for good–and start living a healthier life.

1. Commit to Quit

The decision to stop smoking is not a light one. You have to really want to quit. The greater your desire is to quit, the better your chances that you will really stop.

So how do you decide that you really want to quit? List reasons why you want to quit. Think about what smoking does to you personally, socially and physically. Think about what you gain by quitting. What activities will you be able to do that you can't do now? What will you be able to afford if you aren't spending money on tobacco? How will you feel when you do quit? What do you want your health to be like six months from now? One year from now? Picture yourself smoke-free.

2. Prepare to Be Tobacco-Free

Once you make the commitment, prepare for what lies ahead. You may feel anxious or worried; that's normal. So, to prepare, START: 

1. Set a quit date. 

2. Tell friends, family and coworkers that you plan to quit. Enlist their support. 

3. Anticipate and plan for the challenges you will face while quitting. For example, expect feelings of withdrawal (which typically last 1 to 2 weeks), minimize the cues that make you want to smoke, and let smoking buddies know that you aren't available to hang out, or request that your time together is smoke-free. 

4. Remove cigarettes from your home, work, car and any other place you spend time. If they aren't accessible, you?ll be less inclined to pick one up. 

5. Talk to your doctor. Your physician can provide you with some additional aids (e.g. medicines to help with withdrawal).

3. Ride the Tide

Quitting a habit like smoking is analogous to the tide coming in to shore. It doesn't come in all at once. Each wave progresses just a little bit farther on the beach, and then retreats back into the sea–only to come again a bit farther up the beach with each successive wave. Eventually, the beach is overcome by the water.

The process of quitting smoking may be the same for you: You may quit for a week, then smoke for a day or two, then quit again for another week, then relapse, then quit for two weeks, then relapse, then quit for three weeks, then relapse, and so on until eventually you don?t smoke at all..

Quitting is a process. So don't be discouraged that you may not be able to quit cold turkey. Do, though, be committed to obtaining a tobacco-free life. Your commitment is the "energy" that drives the tide. With each slip, aim to go farther next time.

4. Keep the Faith

Having faith in reaching a goal that you cannot see and have not experienced is tough. Therefore, remind yourself of your progress, and keep a positive outlook..

How do you do that? Reward yourself! Put the money you would spend on cigarettes into a jar, and watch that money pile up over time. If you smoke a pack a day, that probably costs about $5 to $6 each day, $35 to $42 a week, $150 to $180 per month. Treat yourself: Go to a day spa, dine at your favorite restaurant, buy sports tickets, take a trip, or indulge in new clothing or jewelry. Splurge on whatever you want, but make sure it's for you. It's your reward for a job well done. If it helps, having a money jar is a wonderful reminder that you are making progress.

Where Can You Go for Help? 

There are many smoking cessation programs available free of charge that you may find helpful. 

1. Ask your employer if they have an employee wellness program (or EAP) that can provide you with a smoking cessation program. 

2. If you are covered by insurance, ask your insurance carrier if they have a smoking cessation program and what medicinal aids are covered. 

3. Many states offer programs through their department or division of public health. Many have 800-QUIT lines, which provide free or low-cost services. There is a national quit line, which you can access at: 800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669) / TTY 800-332-8615.

Read about more ways to stay healthy at Dr. Peterson's blog.

 

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