The most common question I get asked when talking about quitting smoking is “What do you recommend?”
There are so many options out there, it’s hard to decide what works best for me. So instead of trying to come up with my own personal system, I thought I’d share some of the things that have worked well for me over the years.
1) No Smoking!
I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years now and I still haven’t quit. That’s not because I’m lazy or stupid; it’s just too darn difficult. When you’re addicted to nicotine, your body will fight against any attempt at stopping. Even if you tried every single trick in the book, you wouldn’t succeed.
You need to give yourself permission to give up completely. If you really want to quit, then do it. But don’t expect anyone else to help you.
Meditation is one of those things that seems like magic but actually isn’t all that complicated. Meditation involves focusing your attention on something other than the world around you (in this case, thoughts). A simple way to think about it is imagining yourself floating in a white room filled with pure light. All you have to do is keep your mind focused on that white light.
Every time a random thought comes into your head, just let it go and bring your attention back to the light. It may seem silly, but it really does work.
3) Stay Present
Every time you feel a craving hit, stop and take a few deep breaths. Remind yourself that you are in control of your body and mind. Tell yourself that you don’t need cigarettes and you never will. Remind yourself what would happen if you lit up right now.
Maybe go through the entire quitting process in your mind. By the time you’re done, the craving will have passed. The important thing is to stay focused on what’s happening in the real world. When you do that, thoughts about smoking (whether positive or negative) will pass fairly quickly.
4) Get Moving
Exercise is a great way to keep your mind off smoking. Go for a run, go dancing, go climb a mountain, go walk the dog, go swim a lap, go play soccer, go clean the house, go do something. The key is to get your mind focused on something other than tobacco. It doesn’t even have to be an intense exercise program.
Even a daily walk can make a huge difference. When you go for that walk, really take in all of the sights and sounds around you. Notice the smallest details and appreciate them. Most of the time, when we’re walking we’re usually daydreaming or thinking about all the things we have to do when we get home. Instead of doing that, focus on where you’re going and how your body is moving.
5) Get Help!
The most important part of quitting is your mindset. If you go into it thinking you’re going to fail, you will fail. If you go into it thinking you can do anything, you can do anything! You’re stronger than you think.
Whether you believe it or not, whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter. What matters is how bad you want to quit and how hard you’re willing to work at it. This isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to be really hard. But you can get through it if you believe in yourself.
Did you know that exhaling can help you quit too?
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Follow these five steps and I promise you that you WILL quit smoking. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve smoked or what brand you smoke. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how many times you’ve tried to quit in the past. You can beat this, but only if you want it bad enough.
The choice is yours.
Sources & references used in this article:
Changeology: 5 steps to realizing your goals and resolutions by JC Norcross – 2012 – books.google.com
Overcoming Passive-Aggression, Revised Edition: How to Stop Hidden Anger from Spoiling Your Relationships, Career, and Happiness by T Murphy, L Oberlin – 2016 – books.google.com
The appetite awareness workbook: How to listen to your body and overcome bingeing, overeating, and obsession with food by D Neuharth – 2004 – Macmillan
The Food Addiction Recovery Workbook: How to Manage Cravings, Reduce Stress, and Stop Hating Your Body by M Beattie – 1992 – Hazelden Publishing
Changing to thrive: using the stages of change to overcome the top threats to your health and happiness by LW Craighead – 2006 – books.google.com