Have you ever met a reformed smoker, and hear them tell the tale of quitting? It is no small thing to do. Yet, the process a smoker uses to quit is not unlike the one you would use to change all sorts of bad behavior. This could even include mismanaging your money.
Whatever you’ve resolved to do in the New Year, just know that keeping to your promise will probably be more complicated than you think.
After all, if a behavior is so destructive to your well-being and happiness that you resolve to change it on New Year’s, than it is something so embedded in your life that change will not come easily.
So, we thought it would be useful to relay this advice from BecomeAnEX.org, a project devoted to helping people quit smoking.
You should be no less well-planned and committed to the goal of keeping your resolutions. This is good advice:
Set a quit date, and be strategic
Some smokers prefer to dive right in and just start quitting. We recommend intentionally setting a date to quit smoking.
Big changes in life benefit from good planning
Take a look at your calendar and be strategic about when it would be a good time to quit. Consider quitting on a day without too many temptations (like a holiday party) or stressors (like a looming work deadline).
Identify triggers and track cigarettes
Much like using a step counter to track your activity if you’re trying to get in shape or lose weight, figuring out what makes you want to smoke is part of your quit plan. “Triggers” are the things that cue you to smoke.
Some common triggers are having a cup of coffee, driving, going out drinking or stress. Use the tools on BecomeAnEX.org to identify your triggers by logging the situation surrounding each cigarette you smoke leading up to your quit date. You’ll need this data to beat those triggers come quit day!
Beat your triggers
Now that you’ve identified your triggers, you can plan for how you’ll avoid or overcome them. Do you always smoke on your drive to work?
Try keeping sunflower seeds in your car to munch on instead. Or make a playlist to belt out at the top of your lungs. Really think about what you can do instead of smoking for each of your triggers. Or, make a plan for what you’ll do instead of your triggers (like drink tea instead of coffee for a few days).
Get smart about your smoking addiction
Smoking is more than just a “bad habit.” It’s a physical addiction. Learn the effects of nicotine on your brain and make an educated decision about using quit smoking aids to boost your chances of quitting successfully. Learn more by watching videos on BecomeAnEX.org.
Choose a quit smoking aid
Once you’ve learned more about how addiction works and different quit smoking aids, talk with your doctor, health care provider or pharmacist about which one feels right for you.
Quit smoking medications (such as gum, the patch, inhaler or prescription meds like Chantix or Zyban) can make quitting cravings and withdrawal easier. Even if you’ve tried medication before, consider trying a different one this time around.
Tell someone, anyone
Quitting can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be! Consider telling at least one friend, family member or coworker you trust that you’re quitting–maybe even ask them not to smoke around you, if they’re smokers, too.
Or, connect with others who know exactly what you’re going through in the BecomeAnEX Community. They get what it’s like to feel anxious, irritable or frustrated while quitting. Around the clock and all year long, the EX Community is full of other smokers and former smokers who genuinely want to answer your questions, be a supportive listener and cheer on your success!
Out with the old and in with the new
The first step in forgetting an old flame is throwing out all the stuff that reminds you of “the way we were.” Go through your house, your car and your workplace and toss out everything that has to do with smoking. Lighters, ashtrays, even the dashboard lighter in your car.
Get rid of all of them! Consider getting your car detailed, washing your clothes and bedspread or doing a deep clean on your house to make everything around you smell fresh instead of smoky.
Get ready, get set
If you’re using medication, make sure you have plenty of it on hand. Get ready to quit by having other good ways to cope with cravings.
Find a refillable water bottle; stock up on things to chew on like carrot sticks, toothpicks, sugarless candy and gum; and snag something fun for your hands like a squeeze toy or drumsticks. Keep yourself motivated. Make a list of “reasons I want to quit smoking” and tuck it into your wallet, purse, car, bathroom mirror, office … or everywhere!
You know when your triggers will be popping up. And you know how to beat them when they do. Get up and attack the day. Get dressed, eat, grab your bottle of water and your quit smoking aid and go! Just focus on getting through this one day without smoking. You can survive your first day of quitting smoking. And then take it one day at a time.
If you need to, pick yourself back up
Quitting is hard, and often takes more than one try. If you smoked after your quit day, pick yourself back up. It helps to understand why you slipped up in the first place.
Were you stressed out? Having a drink? Did someone offer you a cigarette? Think back to what happened and make a plan for getting past it next time. Drop by the EX Community for support, commiseration, wisdom or encouragement.
Change isn’t easy. This is certainly true when it comes to unhealthy habits. You need to take a systematic approach to this type of change. So, whether your vice is smoking, eating junk food or blowing your savings on things you don’t need, use this helpful advice as your guide.