Tips to help you QUIT smoking
Smoking is bad for you. We all know that, and yet, it can be one of the most daunting and hardest habits to break. Smoking is actually one of the leading causes of death in the UK, with more than 120,000 people dying every year from smoking-related illnesses.
The crazy thing is though, that often, in fact, statistics show that seven out of ten smokers want to stop, but believe that they can’t, leading to only half of all smokers actually managing to break the habit and stop smoking.
We don’t have to point out again, that smoking is one of the main contributors to a lot of very serious diseases, which include heart disease and lung cancer, and that cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals altogether.
There are many reasons as to why you should give up smoking, with the most obvious being the health benefits that will come with it. You will increase your chances of living a longer, and more importantly a healthier life. When you are not exposed to all of the toxins and chemicals, your body will slowly start to repair the damage that was caused. That’s not all though, your skin will get clearer, and your teeth whiter; your breathing will be improved, as will your general fitness; your hair, skin and breath will no longer smell like tobacco smoke; you will lose the cough that is often associated with smoking; you will have an improved sense of smell and taste; you will likely not be as worried about what smoking is doing to your health; you will have less risk of getting smoking-related disease; your life expectancy will be improved; you will better about yourself, and finally, you will save a lot of money, which you can then spend on things that you have wanted.
If you stop smoking before you reach the age of 45, you will have a life expectancy close to that of people who have never smoked. Just because you are older than 45, it should not be a deterrent to stop, but obviously, this can will widen after 45. That said, you can still enjoy considerable health benefits when you stop over this age as well.
But, smoking does not just harm you. When you smoke near others, you are causing damage to them as well. In fact, eighty-five percent of the smoke from a cigarette is absorbed into the atmosphere or inhaled by other people, via passive smoking. Children are very vulnerable to this, and those who live with smokers are prone to chest, ear, nose and throat infections, as well as bronchitis and pneumonia, which can be particularly nasty and serious.
It is estimated that 300 non-smokers in the UK will actually die from lung cancer that has been caused as a direct result of passive smoking, and The British Medical Association has estimated that as many as 1,000 deaths every year are caused by passive smoking. Strokes and heart attacks have also been linked to passive smoking as well, research suggests. On top of this, smoking also causes as many as 3,000 plus house fires every year, which is estimated to kill nearly 100 people.
These statistics are scary, but it can also be a scary concept to quit as well. Here are some tips which, along with a lot of willpower could help you to quit smoking for good.
Know why you wanting to quit
If you are giving up because you are being told to, and not because you actually want to, you are basically setting yourself up for a fail.
You have to know why you have made the decision to quit the cigarettes, as you will need to keep reminding yourself of this as you go, as you will need support at times.
Whether you are stopping for health reasons, or your children, make sure it is strong enough to override any feelings of wanting to smoke. If you have a really strong reason as to why you are giving up, this will keep you going when all you want to do is light up. For example, if you are giving up because you are a parent to a baby or a young child, carry a photo of them that you can look at every time you get a craving to keep you motivated.
Regardless of whether you have previously been unsuccessful when you have tried to stop in the past, put this to the back of your head, and start on a clean slate. Thinking about the times that you have not managed to ditch this habit, will only set you back, and put off.
Instead of looking at the past as a negative, turn this into a positive, and think about what all of your past experiences has taught you, and how you will not make the same mistakes this time around. You will be far more likely to be successful this time to do it this way.
Set a date, and stick to it
Make a promise to yourself as to when you want to have quit by and make sure that you stick to it. Make it realistic to not set yourself up for a fall. Some people struggle in social situations, and find that this is when they will give in, but many stick to the ‘not a drag rule’, which, when they find themselves in difficulty, they will say to themselves; ‘I will not even have a single drag’, and make sure you stick to it until your craving has passed.
Think about how you will handle times where you might find yourself in difficulty, like a party, and plan how you will deal with having these cravings, and what you will do. Or, how you will react if someone offers you a cigarette in a social setting. Knowing what to say and do in these situations will help you to keep positive and to stay on track.
Think about what you are eating
If you are partial to having an after-dinner cigarette, what you might not realise that the food you are eating might be to blame. A study that was carried out in the United States, has shown that certain foods, which can include meat will make cigarettes more satisfying. Other food, including cheese, fruit and vegetables have the opposite effect and will make cigarettes taste awful. So, whilst you are trying to quit, try and limit your meat intake, and increase your fruit and vegetables that you are eating.
If you are really struggling to stop your cigarette after eating, regardless of what food you have, it might be worth trying to do a change in your routine. Try and busy yourself after eating, by getting up and doing the dishes straight away for example. Just doing anything to distract yourself from having a cigarette will help you to ditch the habit for good.
And what you are drinking
Just like food, what you drink can also play a part as well. The same study that was mentioned above, looked at how drinks can affect your cigarette craving, and found that fizzy drinks, alcohol, cola, tea and coffee all make cigarettes taste better. To avoid smoking, try and drink more water and fruit juice as this might have the opposite effect.
If you drink the same thing, particularly when you are out, many people find that changing their drink completely can help with their craving, and they do not feel that they need to reach for a cigarette as much as they did before. It is anything to try and break that routine and habit, and drinking a different drink might disassociate you from the act of smoking.
Determine when it is you crave cigarettes
Knowing when you crave cigarettes can help you to distract yourself at these time until the craving passes. Remember that a craving will only last for five minutes, so as long as you can keep yourself distracted for those five minutes, you will find that the craving will pass.
Make a list of some five-minute strategies that you can do when you have a craving, and make sure you carry these out when you have them. Include ones that you can do when you are out as well, whether this is stepping out of the situation for five minutes, or having a dance, or even going up to the bar. By carrying out these little activities, you will soon forget about wanting a cigarette.
Don’t ignore the support that is available
Many people try and give up in secret without telling anyone, for fear of having to face these people if they fail, but actually; having the support around you will make you more likely to succeed. Discuss it with your friends and family, and establish if anyone else around you also wants to give up, and suggest that you do it together. You can all keep one another motivated if anyone has a bad day, where they are tempted to give up.
Remember as well that you can get a lot of support from the local stop smoking service. In fact, research has suggested that you are up to four times more likely to stop smoking for good when you include help and support from an expert. If you do not know what help is available to you in your area, you can also call the NHS Smokefree Helpline, where you can get help, support and advice. Services like this are really great if you are starting to struggle and feel like giving up.
Do more exercise
Becoming active can really help you cut cravings, and help you to ditch the cigarettes for good. When you exercise regularly, you will start to feel better in yourself, and when your fitness begins to improve as well, the likelihood is that you will not want to smoke, as this will hinder all of your hard work.
Research and reviews of different scientific studies have also shown that exercise, no matter how light, can cut craving and can help your brain produce anti-craving chemicals. Even a five-minute walk or stretch can do the job, so it is a good thing to put on your cravings list of activities to do when a craving hits.
Make some smoke free friends
If you socialise with a lot of smokers and are finding it hard to break your habit when you are out with them, consider changing your friendship group. Whilst we are not saying to stop being friends with these people, if you are at a party, make yourself known among the non-smokers, so when everyone goes out for a cigarette you are not forced to go with them.
Instead of looking at them with envy as well, think about what they are doing, and how it is actually a little odd and antisocial if you are struggling to detach from them.
Keep your hands and mouth busy
Don’t feel like you have to do everything by yourself without any help. Nicotine replacement therapy does not make you a failure, and instead, it can double your chances of actually succeeding.
There are so many options available to you as well, so you do not just have to use unsightly patches, which can sometimes put people off, as there is nothing to physically use when you are having a craving. Other options include tablets, lozenges, gum and a nasal spray; and for the people who like to keep their hands busy, there are options like the inhalator, and e-cigarettes which have proved to be rather effective at helping someone stop smoking.
If you struggle when you go out, try simple techniques like putting your drink in the hand that you would usually hold your cigarette in, or try drinking from an environmentally friendly straw as a way to keep your mouth busy.