If you’ve been thinking about quitting, there’s no better time than now to take that first step. On the fence? We get it. We know how hard it can be to give it up – cigarettes are one of the most addictive substances out there.
Whether you’re trying to kick the habit for the first time, or have quit so many times you can no longer keep count, we’re here to let you know there are a number of different ways to get your quit on. From replacing your nicotine fix with pleasant experiences to dabbling in something called hypnotherapy, it doesn’t hurt to try all possible avenues.
If you’ve tried quitting before and it worked (until it didn’t), then it’s possible that the method you chose wasn’t the right fit for you. Here’s where the old adage “try, try again” comes in handy.
Take a look at the list below, and choose the plan that seems to suit you best. The good news is, you’ve got nine backup plans if your first attempt doesn’t work!
1. Ask yourself why you want to quit, and write those reasons down so you can refer to them when you’re having a weak moment
Something specific, like “I want to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without losing my breath” is more attainable than “Because it’s bad for my health.” If your reason is saving money, calculate how much you spend on cigarettes each month, and then list everything you could buy or do with that extra money. How’s that for motivating?
2. Write down your stressors and come up with ways to combat your negative feelings in those instances
Why? Because stress is one of the top reasons people reach for a cigarette, so if you are prepared for situations that make you feel stressed or anxious, you can experiment with new ways to reduce your stress. Try yoga, meditation, exercise, journaling, taking a warm bath or talking to friends.
3. Get the people in your life on your side
If your partner also smokes, why not suggest tackling this challenge together? If your housemates smoke, it may be a good time to make it a rule to smoke outside. If you have colleagues who smoke by your workplace entrance, send an all-staff email, politely asking them to smoke elsewhere until you’ve officially kicked the habit.
You may want to avoid the company of people in your life who are not supportive of your goal—until you feel comfortable (and confident!) being in the presence of smokers.
4. Cut down on your alcohol intake
Smoking and drinking feed off of each other. So if you tend to pull out a smoke each time you pour yourself a drink, it will be more challenging to break the habit if you continue to drink as regularly as you did before. Try avoiding scenarios or even people (see #3) that you associate with smoking, at least initially.
5. Start exercising on the regular
Not only will it help keep your mind off your cravings, it’s a great way to maintain your weight, especially if you are experiencing an increase in your appetite. It can also help with mood, and result in a better night’s sleep. Initially, you may notice you’re experiencing a bit of insomnia due to withdrawal symptoms. Here’s a guide to getting a better sleep those first tough nights.
6. Take part in activities that lift your spirits to curb cravings and manage your mood
This workbook is a great way to understand how you are feeling currently, and is a handy resource for ways to keep yourself busy and happy. See page 6 for a comprehensive list of enjoyable activities you can do in place of smoking.
7. Make sure to have easy, healthy snacks on hand to help deal with cravings or the inevitable increase in appetite
If you’ve got a bit of an oral fixation, healthy go-to’s are good replacement for a cigarette. While some people take up vaping or shisha as a less harmful alternative to smoking, it’s important to know that both of these options can also be detrimental to your health.
They’re a great way to transition to a smoke-free life, but you may want to commit to a quit date for these types of nicotine replacements too.
8. Slowly wean yourself off nicotine
If your withdrawal symptoms are unmanageable, consider slowly weaning yourself off your nicotine intake with something like nicotine gum, an inhaler, lozenges, nasal spray or a patch. Just be sure to gradually decrease the amount of nicotine you are consuming, until you aren’t getting any nicotine in your system at all.
9. Explore prescription options
There are prescription medications you can take ahead of your quit date that are proven to help lessen cravings, manage mood swings, and assist you in giving up smoking. While not for everyone, you can speak with your primary care provider or chat into League’s Health Concierge to learn more. Note that side effects can be quite serious, so if you’d prefer to go the natural route, there are options. (See #10.)
10. See if there’s a natural option for you
If you like natural options, you may want to consider acupuncture, aversion therapy or hypnotherapy. These are just a few non-traditional ways to kick the habit, and while they can depend on a person’s motivation and commitment level, all are considered effective. In one study, hypnotherapy was deemed more effective than nicotine replacement therapy!
And it never hurts to join a support group. Suddenly you have an entire community of people going through the same thing you are. They are both your cheerleaders and a shoulder to vent on! If you’re not comfortable talking about your feelings in person, you may enjoy the anonymity of an online forum instead.
Whatever way you choose, remind yourself that there are a lot of options if you don’t succeed the first time. You can also enlist help from your local pharmacy, your family doctor, government sponsored programs, and even the health pros here at League.
There’s no better time to quit. You can do this.