Have you been meaning to quit smoking? Perhaps you’ve been trying for years, but never quite managed it. It is one of the hardest addictions to break, so you’re not alone. But millions of people quit every year, and you can too. You just need the right tools to help you. So what can you try? Some of these you will have heard of, while others might be new to you. Either way, you’re bound to find something that works for you. Read on to discover ten tools to help you kick cigarettes forever.
There are so many tools to try, you might not know where to even begin. But did you know that you can actually take a blood test to help you decide? Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that a blood test reveals how quickly an individual’s body breaks down nicotine. This helps to determine which medication will work best.
Many people looking to quit speak to their doctor first. Your doctor might advise nicotine replacement products, which can make it easier for you to quit. If you’re physically addicted to nicotine, going cold turkey can be a challenge. You’ll usually start on a high to moderate dose of nicotine and then wean off gradually until you’re not dependent anymore.
The form of the nicotine treatment can vary, so you’re bound to find one that suits your lifestyle and preferences. Lozenges and nicotine-infused gum can help to keep your mouth busy, which some people find helpful. Others prefer patches that slowly release the dose over time. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to think about it throughout the day, which some people like. If you’re a heavy smoker, you might need a combination of these approaches. Your doctor can advise you on the best way to meet your needs.
Your eventual goal will be to get off nicotine altogether. But it’s important to remember that taking nicotine at first doesn’t mean you’re not really quitting. Nicotine replacement therapy can be a really useful tool to support quitting. Plus, it’s nowhere near as dangerous as smoking, since it doesn’t contain any of the other thousands of harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke.
If you’ve been smoking for many years, you might find the action of inhaling very soothing. It’s part of your routine, and it can be just as difficult to stop the physical act of smoking as it is to give up nicotine. So if you’re not ready to break this habit yet, you might find vaping useful. Vaping has soared in popularity over recent years. According to the New York Times, 10 million adults in the USA now vape regularly.
Even non-smokers enjoy vaping, since the flavors can be truly delicious. You can get vape juice in a variety of flavors, as well as with different nicotine content. Some vape juices contain no nicotine at all. This makes it an ideal medium to reduce your nicotine consumption, gradually weaning off until you are free of nicotine completely. Once you’re no longer dealing with withdrawal, you can kick the habit of smoking altogether if you want to. Many people will continue to vape even after kicking nicotine.
A drug named Varenicline is sometimes used to help people quit. It’s said to reduce nicotine cravings and make smoking seem unpleasant. However, this drug can have more side-effects than other methods, so it’s not normally recommended unless you’ve previously tried nicotine replacement and it hasn’t worked. Your doctor will check to make sure that this medication is safe for you to take.
Craving cigarettes is a common symptom of nicotine withdrawal. But what if you could combat that with physical activity? Exercise is a well-known stress buster and even very short workouts have been shown to reduce cravings. It’s also common to feel low, frustrated, or even angry when you’re quitting.
Doing intensive aerobic exercise, like running or jumping rope, actually elevates your mood, due to the endorphins being released. So if you’re feeling stressed out or drained of energy, take 15 minutes to get active is one of the best things you can do. You can aim to do half an hour of moderate to intense activity most days. But don’t forget that doing ten minutes, three times a day actually works out as having the same benefits! It doesn’t have to a gym workout, if that’s not your style. Try dancing, swimming, rock climbing, or boxing. Anything that gets you moving counts – even taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator.
By getting more exercise, you’ll get to feel the difference in your lung capacity. Many people find this is a huge motivating factor in their quitting journey. You could even take on a fitness challenge, such as a half-marathon or a sponsored trek. This will give you something to work towards and an additional reason to keep your lungs smoke-free.
Understand your triggers
Many smokers can identify certain triggers, situations that make them want to smoke more. This could be going out to a bar with friends or having a cigarette after every meal. See if you can identify your triggers, and then put together a plan to proactively counter them. For example, could you arrange to meet your friends at a different location, like a cafe, while you’re in the quitting period?
Perhaps you could even invite them to work out for you, for example, surfing or taking a hike in the woods. If you associate smoking with an activity like eating, see if you can break this by replacing the activity. For example, get up and do the dishes straight after eating, or have an after-dinner mint instead. Only you will know your triggers and the best way to avoid them. But one thing is for sure, letting your friends and family know the best ways to support you in this will make your journey that bit easier.
Find new ways of keeping calm
Many smokers associate cigarettes with stress relief. So next time you’re in a stressful situation at work, how will you cope with it? It helps to think about this in advance, and start building up some coping mechanisms before you get into that situation in the first place. Meditation has absolutely soared in popularity in recent years. It’s easy to dismiss it, but science proves that regular meditation makes you more able to deal with stress and can improve your overall mental health, along with a whole bunch of other benefits. But you have to develop a regular practice to get these benefits in your life. So why not put aside ten minutes a day to meditate? It doesn’t need to be difficult or intimidating. There are plenty of apps, like Headspace, that can guide you through the process. You can also find guided meditations on Youtube.
Similar to meditation, lots of people find breathing techniques really help to calm them down. The great thing about this is you do it whenever stress strikes and you’ll get instant results. There are lots of different techniques to try, but here’s a simple one that you can do at any time. For two seconds, breathe in gently through your nose. Next, hold your breath for one second, and then exhale out of your mouth for the count of four. Repeat this for up to a minute and see if you notice a sense of calm. When you get used to these techniques, they’ll become second-nature, and you won’t be reaching for a cigarette every time the going gets tough.