You have decided to quit smoking — congratulations! Quitting will improve your health immensely by reducing your risk of heart disease, lung cancer and stroke. However, you should be prepared for some difficulties as well. During the smoking cessation process, you may feel strong cravings for nicotine. You may also experience trouble concentrating, irritability and
anxiety. However, these are all obstacles you can overcome with the right support. You can do this! Here are seven tips to help you along the way.
Wean Yourself Off Nicotine
Doctors call it nicotine replacement therapy, but many former smokers call it a lifesaver. The reason you may find it hard to quit smoking is that your body still craves the nicotine found in tobacco products. You may find it easier to curb your cravings for the substance with gum, patches or lozenges. They allow you to give up nicotine little by little, a much smoother
transition than quitting “cold turkey.”
Nourish Your Body
It is common to interpret the negative emotions brought on by nicotine withdrawal as hunger, which may lead you to gain weight. Some people end up trading nicotine for sugar. However, proper nutritional support can help you avoid that trap and may make quitting easier. Take care of your body by eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables. Make sure you get enough
vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C and the B vitamins. You need proper levels of antioxidants and probiotics as well. Supplements may help, especially if they are part of a coordinated program.
Identify Your Triggers
Smoking is about more than nicotine addiction. The habit is perpetuated through social, environmental and emotional triggers as well. Figure out what your triggers are. Perhaps you appreciate the camaraderie you enjoy with coworkers during smoke breaks. Maybe you habitually light up when you start the car. Or you may smoke out of pure boredom. In any case,
figuring out what prompts you to smoke is the first step in breaking the cycle. When you know your vulnerabilities you can prepare ahead of time, and either avoid the trigger or determine another way to respond. Maybe you can gather with colleagues at the vending machine, reach for mints when you drive or begin a hobby.
Consider Prescription Medications
If you have tried to quit unsuccessfully in the past, you may want to reach out to your physician. Many products have proven track records in helping with smoking cessation. Varenicline and bupropion are two such medications. These treatments may have side effects. However, the
undesirable aspects of the prescriptions are usually small compared to those of tobacco. Consult a medical professional who knows your history.
Reward Small Successes
Small steps count; reward yourself for them. Minor milestones, such as a day without smoking, deserve to be celebrated. Honoring these smaller steps will encourage you to take larger ones. Be careful that, while you reward success, you do not punish setbacks. You may go a day
without smoking, only to give in to cravings the next three days in a row. That does not mean you are failing; it is all part of the process. Even a winding road can lead you to your destination.
Reach Out for Assistance
Some people announce to family and friends that they are quitting, to keep them accountable. Others select just one supportive buddy to help keep them on track. You may prefer a more high-tech approach, using a smartphone app to track your habits and help you begin new
routines. Studies have shown that health apps are evolving constantly and many show great promise in supporting smoking cessation efforts.
Tap Your Spiritual Side
Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand with any healthy change you make. However, many smokers find that conquering addiction to nicotine may require a higher power: Prayer can be a powerful force for believers. If you are not religious, bolster your spirits with meditation, yoga or
tai chi. They combine the physical benefits of exercise while also promoting relaxation. The spiritual component can be a great source of comfort.