Smoking is incredibly addictive, so it’s not surprising that quitting is incredibly hard. These tips will help along your journey, whether you are already well into quitting or just getting ready for day one.
Keep yourself busy
Finding a new hobby is immensely helpful when you first quit smoking. The more manual and involved the hobby, the better. Having an outlet for frustration and irritability and something to occupy your time in general will give you the extra support that you need to get through the difficult initial phases of quitting.
Want to make your own clothes? It’s time to learn how to sew. Need a new coffee table? Carpentry classes are in your future. Cleaning the house, painting your nails, cooking something complicated, playing an instrument, or even carrying something to hold and play with like a rubber band or keychain can help. Many people also like to use the money they save after quitting to join a gym – a healthy habit replaces a detrimental one.
Smoking is an oral habit, too; so it’s helpful to have something to chew on to keep your mouth occupied and defeat that aspect of the addiction. Gum is an old classic, and some people find nicotine gum helpful for intense cravings. Toothpicks, hard candy, or cough drops are also good options.
The real meat of this idea is to fill your time with things and ideas other than smoking. Relapses often occur in moments of boredom and anxiety, so having new activities that engage you is key to resisting temptation when it strikes. It’s not easy, but convincing yourself to turn to your new hobby instead of your old habit will get easier each time you do it. Whether it’s fixing an old radio or just popping a piece of gum in your mouth, forcing yourself to do the hard thing in the beginning will lead to big payoffs in the end.
Throughout your efforts, it is essential to have open, honest discussions with yourself about why you want to quit smoking. Rate how much you want to quit on a scale of 1 to 10 and then examine why you didn’t pick a higher number. Did you rate yourself as a not-so-ready 3 or 4? Come up with ideas about how you could bump that number up to a 6 or 7.
Listen to yourself and the way you phrase things. If you are prone to impersonal, ambivalent statements like, “smoking is bad for you,” try to transition to more explicit, detailed statements like “I want to quit because I feel like crap all the time and I get sick really easily,” and “I know I can handle the challenge of quitting, and I am ready to feel better and stop wasting my money.”
By looking at it this way, you get a reminder that change is possible and that the reasons you have to quit actually come from within yourself and not from an external source. This method of self-motivation increases your inner resolve to succeed at quitting and gives you a sense of pride and ownership at your achievement. Motivational interviewing is used as an element in many successful smoking cessation programs; it works because when motivation comes from within, it’s far more effective than any one external intervention like patches or prescriptions from a doctor.
Fully acknowledge and experience the benefits
Even a few days after quitting smoking, you should notice changes in the way you experience the world. More quickly than you may expect, your sense of smell and taste will start to improve.
Reward yourself for the hard word of quitting and go somewhere rich in aromas. Take a walk around the block and make it a point to notice and fully acknowledge the scents that you missed when your nose and mouth were inundated with smoke. Flowers and other plants, rain showers, even snow, all have distinct smells that smokers often can’t detect. Eventually you will also be able to smell cigarette smoke from quite a distance and will probably dislike it; many former smokers find the smell pretty disgusting.
In the same vein, not only is your sense of smell better after quitting smoking, but you yourself smell better as well. Make sure to wash all of your clothes, jackets, gloves, etc. to remove the stale, dirty smell of old cigarettes and tobacco. After a few showers, you should notice how much cleaner you feel in general. Shampoos, lotions, and perfumes will smell better for longer, and it’s likely you’ll start reveling in your new found clean smell.
Just as your sense of smell improves, your taste buds will heal and soon you will be able to taste new and subtler flavors. It is essential to enjoy this new spectrum of flavors and realize that you could not taste them before you quit. Try some new foods or spend time comparing the way certain foods used to taste with how they taste now. Spicy food may taste more spicy and vibrant, and the flavors of different herbs will be far more prominent and distinguishable from one another.
Think actively about how good things taste or how different they are now and realize that returning to the habit would take that away. Smoking significantly limits the way you experience the world, and remembering that while enjoying the new and wonderful tastes and smells will help you get through a rough patch.
No matter what, don’t buy a pack
This bonus tip is short and direct: Whatever you do, whatever you feel, do not buy a pack of cigarettes.
Moments of weakness and insane cravings can be overwhelming, but buying yourself a big supply just to take care of one craving is overkill. A single indiscretion is one thing, but a whole pack is setting you up for a series of defeats and the guilt that follows. Use whatever distractions you can to get through the craving. They usually only last a few minutes. Remind yourself that you are the one in control and you don’t need the coughing and stinking and expense in your life. You can do it.