Whether you’re a teen smoker or a lifetime pack–a–day smoker, quitting can be tough. But the more you learn about your options and prepare for quitting, the easier the process will be. With the right game plan tailored to your needs, you can break the addiction, manage your cravings, and join the millions of people who have kicked the habit for good.
Questions To Ask Yourself
Take the time to think of what kind of smoker you are, which moments of your life call for a cigarette, and why. This will help you to identify which tips, techniques or therapies may be most beneficial for you.
- Do you feel the need to smoke at every meal?
- Are you more of a social smoker?
- Is it a very bad addiction (more than a pack a day)? Or would a simple nicotine patch do the job?
- Do you reach for cigarettes when you’re feeling stressed or down?
- Are there certain activities, places, or people you associate with smoking?
- Is your cigarette smoking linked to other addictions, such as alcohol or gambling?
- Are you open to hypnotherapy and/or acupuncture?
- Are you someone who is open to talking about your addiction with a therapist or counselor?
- Are you interested in getting into a fitness program?
Identify Your Smoking Triggers
One of the best things you can do to help yourself quit is to identify the things that make you want to smoke, including specific situations, activities, feelings, and people.
Keep a craving journal
A craving journal can help you zero in on your patterns and triggers. For a week or so leading up to your quit date, keep a log of your smoking. Note the moments in each day when you crave a cigarette:
- What time was it?
- How intense was the craving (on a scale of 1-10)?
- What were you doing?
- Who were you with?
- How were you feeling?
- How did you feel after smoking?
Coping With Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
Once you stop smoking, you will experience a number of physical symptoms as your body withdraws from nicotine. Nicotine withdrawal begins quickly, usually starting within thirty minutes to an hour of the last cigarette and peaking about 2 to 3 days later. Withdrawal symptoms can last for a few days to several weeks and differ from person to person.
Common nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Cigarette cravings
- Irritability, frustration, or anger
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased appetite
- Increased coughing
- Constipation or upset stomach
- Decreased heart rate
Manage Cigarette Cravings
Avoiding smoking triggers will help reduce the urge to smoke, but you can’t avoid cravings entirely. But cigarette cravings don’t last long, so if you’re tempted to light up, remember that the craving will pass and try to wait it out. It also helps to be prepared in advance. Having a plan to cope with cravings will help keep you from giving in.
- Distract yourself: Do the dishes, turn on the TV, take a shower, or call a friend. The activity doesn’t matter as long as it gets your mind off of smoking.
- Remind yourself why you quit: Focus on your reasons for quitting, including the health benefits, improved appearance, money you’re saving, and enhanced self-esteem.
- Get out of a tempting situation. Where you are or what you’re doing may be triggering the craving. If so, a change of scenery can make all the difference.
- Reward yourself. Reinforce your victories. Whenever you triumph over a craving, give yourself a reward to keep yourself motivated.