Most smokers understand that smoking isn’t healthy for them and those around them and they want to quit, but quitting isn’t easy. It is especially difficult if you have been smoking for years and are addicted to nicotine. Beating a substance use disorder requires dedication and perseverance and while some days may be tougher than others, quitting is possible.
Quitting smoking can save you from a lot of health problems down the line and no matter your age, it is never too late to quit. Here are some steps that can help you be successful:
Establish a Plan
Write down what your goals for quitting smoking are and detail your reasons for wanting to quit. Think of situations where you might be tempted to smoke and make a list of people you can call when you feel tempted. This plan can help you stay motivated and confident while avoiding tobacco.
In order to keep your mind off of smoking, it’s important to stay active. This can mean going on walks or runs around the neighborhood, seeing a movie with your friends, lifting weights, or picking up a recreational sport. Exercising while quitting will also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Participate in Mindfulness Activities
Meditation and yoga can help relieve the stress you might be going through while quitting. Yoga incorporates breathing techniques that will fill your lungs with fresh air and help you clear your mind.
Give Nicotine Replacement Therapy a Shot
Nicotine replacement therapy can help you alleviate the nicotine withdrawal symptoms in a safe and effective way. Therapies include patches, gums, nasal sprays, and more. They provide you with small amounts of nicotine that will help you gradually give up cigarettes.
There may be underlying problems in your life that contribute to your smoking and counseling can help you understand them better, as well as offer you alternative methods for relieving stress. Going an extra step and attending a 12-step program like Nicotine Anonymous can provide you with opportunities to get advice from support from other who are going through the same kind of situations.
A lot of things can trigger cravings, like people or places. Try and avoid spending time with people who smoke or going to bars or restaurants that allow smoking. Instead, try and spend more time around nonsmokers and choosing smoke-free establishments. An important thing you shouldn’t forget is to clear your home of any cigarettes, lighters, or other items that might remind you of smoking.
Look for Support
Quitting smoking is usually very difficult, especially if you’re doing it alone. Ask for support from your loved ones and tell them that you are committed to seeing this through. If they are smokers, explain to them how their smoking can trigger your cravings and they will likely avoid using tobacco in your presence.
Quitting smoking will have significantly positive effects on your long-term health. Smokers who quit usually experience cleaner skin, lower cholesterol levels, better lung function, a healthier immune system, and stronger bones, as well as a reduced risk of various cancers.
Here are some specific benefits of removing nicotine from your life, according to the U.S. surgeon general:
- Blood pressure and heart rate drop back down to normal levels only 20 minutes after smoking.
- The levels of carbon monoxide in your blood returns to normal levels after 12 hours.
- Circulation and lung function are improved in two weeks to three months.
- Shortness of breath subsides in one to nine months and normal breathing gradually returns.
- After one year, the risk of coronary heart disease is 50% lower.
- After five years, risk of bladder, esophagus, mouth, and throat cancer is reduced by 50%.
- After 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer drops by 50%.
- After 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker.
The benefits of quitting smoking are undeniable. By planning in advance, understanding the risks of smoking and surrounding yourself with people who support you, you’ll be able to quit in no time and live a longer, healthier life.