Though smoking rates have dropped precipitously in recent years, Australia still has an uncomfortably high smoking rate of about 12%. Tobacco products kill more than 15,000 Aussies each year, leaving a trail of family, economic, and social destruction in the wake of these tragic deaths. No matter how long you have smoked, quitting now can reduce your health risks, and staying quit can steadily reverse the damage cigarettes have already done. Research shows that most people have to attempt a quit several times before it sticks, but you can rise above the statistics with these five tips.
Create a Quitting Plan
Quitting smoking isn’t something you can do on a whim. You’ll need a strategy that helps you manage cravings while getting the support you need. Some steps you can take to adopt a healthy quit plan include:
- Putting your quit date on your calendar so it’s part of your regular thought process.
- Telling loved ones you plan to quit, and asking for their help. If you can, tell them exactly what they can do to help.
- Creating a comfortable environment filled with plenty of water, your favorite foods, and lots of entertainment for when you quit; bored people often give into smoking.
- Talking to your doctor about strategies that can help you quit.
Be Wary of Quit-Smoking Products
Nicotine replacement products are big business, with everyone from governmental agencies to physicians recommending them. But it’s not smoking you’re addicted to; it’s nicotine. So the use of these products just pushes quitting further down the line, potentially making the process harder. Research shows that, in spite of the bevy of quit-smoking products now available, most successful quitters still do it cold turkey.
If you think you might need some assistance quitting, don’t go with nicotine replacement. Instead, talk to a physician about the range of medications that can help reduce cravings and stave off depression. These drugs are safe, and won’t feed your nicotine addiction.
Be Prepared for the Challenge
Here’s a difficult truth: quitting smoking is hard. Harder than you may realize. Harder even than some doctors are willing to admit! Some people become suicidal. Others spend hours crying or raging. We say this not to dissuade you from quitting, but to prepare you for the challenge. Anything worth doing is a bit difficult, but you’ll be rewarded with a healthier life and an end to your nicotine addiction if you stick with it. By being prepared for the challenge, you’re less likely to back out. Smokers who think it will be easy, by contrast, may be so overwhelmed by the challenges of quitting that they give up.
Give Yourself Something to Look Forward To
It’s normal to dread quitting, and even to mourn cigarettes. For many smokers, cigarettes become a constant friend and companion—there when they struggle, when they triumph, when they’re bored, and when they’re lonely. If you want to successfully quit, you need to find an alternative habit, such as exercising, writing in a blog, or playing with your dog. Even more important, create something to look forward to each day. Many smokers struggle with depression when they quit smoking, but staying inside and crying all day only increases your likelihood of giving into temptation. Plan brunch with a friend, a shopping trip with your cousin, or a night out with your sibling and you’ll have a reason to get up—not to mention a reason not to dread quitting.
Create a System of Rewards
In a culture that stigmatizes smoking, it’s easy to minimize the importance of quitting. Maybe you feel ashamed of your smoking habit, causing yo to fail tor recognize the incredible achievement it is to quit. Don’t do this to yourself! Quitting for a day, a week, a month, and forever are all accomplishments, so set up a system of rewards. At the end of a day, you might buy yourself a small treat. At a week, take the money you would have spent on smoking and sink it into something fun instead. The brain responds best when it’s rewarded for making the right choice, so offering yourself a steady stream of rewards for sticking with it can help you remain quit for the long-run.