The human body, just like any other machine, requires proper maintenance if you wish it to work properly. In less technical terms, you have to take good care of your body if you want a long, healthy, happy life. Being human, it is understandable for you to make mistakes. Repetition of a mistake, however, can lead to the development of risky habits that consequently prevent healthy living. Smoking is one such habit, and sadly, a recent 2012 study showed that about 967 million people smoke daily. Not only does the habit cause numerous diseases, it is also very addictive. So, how do you learn to stop it?
1.) Make a decision to quit smoking
Before everything else, you'll have to convince yourself to stop the habit. Looking at the negative impact it has had on your life and the more damage it could cause are both very strong motivators to stop.
After you've made the decision to quit, set a realistic date for yourself to have completely stopped smoking. Consulting your doctor could help during this process since he/she knows the changes that your body is going to undergo.
Additionally, inform your friends and family on your decision to quit. The quitting process will certainly not be easy, so the more support you have, the better.
2.) Identify your cravings and change your mindset
Just like any other addictive habit, cigarette smoking causes cravings, which may be triggered by a number of things, depending on an individual. For some, a stressful situation is just enough while others can cite parties as their number one trigger.
Knowing and avoiding your triggers is a very important step when it comes to quitting smoking, especially for the first 4 months. Whenever you feel a craving, embrace a positive mindset and remind yourself of what you're looking to achieve. If you successfully avoid the 10-minute long cravings, learn to reward yourself.
I won't lie; this will be one of the hardest steps, given the withdrawal symptoms and all. However, once you're able to ignore cravings, you'll be well underway to a smoke-free life.
3.) Embrace a technique to help you in quitting
Once you're okay both physically and mentally, you'll be ready to begin the quitting process. There are number of approaches available, both traditional and medical, that could help you in doing so.
The first, mostly traditional, process is the "Cold-turkey" technique. This is where you try to quit without any form of therapy or medicine. Interestingly, most smokers embrace it first before any other method, maybe because they may be feeling guilty. Sadly however, this technique is very ineffective and about only 5-7% of smokers are able to quit through it alone. Therefore, I wouldn't advise you to rely on it.
Alternatively, a more medical approach in behavioral therapy would be quite effective in curbing your smoking habit. All you need is to contact your medical counselor who helps you in identifying your triggers and getting through your cravings.
This method can also be paired with Nicotine Replacement Therapy(NRT). This is where doctors find an alternative way to introduce nicotine into your body without the use of tobacco. Nicotine patches, lozenges and sprays are provided to help you with cravings. As I mentioned earlier, pairing this with behavioral therapy is sure to give you very positive results.
Apart from those two methods, you could also get a prescription from the doctor to help you quit smoking. Yes, there exist drugs that help in stopping the habit. Zyban and Chantix are very good examples. However, it is of very much importance to speak to your doctor first.
Lastly, if you really don't like medicine, you can try methods such as acupuncture and hypnosis. Although their degrees of effectiveness are not quite clear yet, they may just work for you.
4.) Work on your diet
Whatever you've heard is true. Diet does play a very major role when it comes to quitting smoking.
For most people, if not you, smoking is an after-dinner ritual. Trust me, this is not coincidental. Some foods, especially meaty products, make smoking cigarettes very pleasant. A dish with more fruits and veggies, on the other hand, makes cigarettes very distasteful. So, even if you don't want to, make a slight diet change. Not only is it healthier, it also helps you in quitting process.
Remember, your diet includes what you drink too. Make sure to go slow on fizzy drinks, alcohol and coffee since they better cigarette taste. Instead, incorporate more water and fruit juice into your system.
Apart from its effect on taste, a well-balanced nutritious diet is essential in regulating your weight. After you've quit smoking, you may gain up-to 5 pounds in the first 6 months. Although this may seem like a scary trend, you should know that it's just your body adapting to the cigarette withdrawal. If you maintain a healthy diet, the additional weight will eventually go away.
5.) Keep busy and have the right company
When it comes to smoking, and idle mind is truly the devil's workshop. Keeping busy as often as you can is essential in helping you quit the habit.
Chewing sugarless gum, munching on celery, adopting new hobbies and keeping your hands and mouth busy frequently are some of the ways to focus your attention on something else. Additionally, regular exercise promotes chemical release in the brain, which vastly helps with reducing the cravings.
Other than keeping busy, learn to make more non-smoking friends and/or join a support group. This not only prevents temptation, it also provides you with much needed strength to continue.
Conclusively, cigarette smoking is a very dangerous habit. The number of diseases it causes, not mentioning the cancers, could really affect the quality of your life. Learning how to quit and staying focused are both essential in boosting your health. So, worry no more. The above listed steps should give you guidance on how to stop smoking and if more help is needed, please contact a medical physician. Eventually, remember, it's all up to you.