In the last year, we’ve helped tens of thousands of people quit smoking – so we know that no two journeys towards smoking cessation are the same. Of course, there are hundreds of tips and trick out there to help your own path to quitting become a success.
That’s why we thought we’d create the ultimate list of ten bits of advice to help you stop smoking. We believe these ten awesome ideas will be fundamental in helping you start your new life without cigarettes.
1. Set Your Quit Date
When you embark on a project or you want to reach a goal, what do you do? You make a plan. It’s the exact same for nicotine withdrawal. Once you’ve decided that you want to quit smoking for good, it’s time to set your plan in stone.
Identify the reasons you have for quitting smoking. Maybe it’s the health of your family members or loved ones – check out our blog on the devastating consequences that secondhand smoke can have on them.
Then set your quit date. If you’ve failed to quit in the past, think about whether you want to try to quit gradually or immediately.
Remember, setting goals is useless unless they’re set in stone. Write your plan down!
2. Do Your Homework
Okay, so no-one likes homework – but quitting smoking is a lot easier when you know your stuff! As well as our own blog and the handy app we’ve created, you can find a wealth of information online.
Being aware of the facts is going to help you quit. You can find out more about nicotine addiction and its consequences at support groups, or on websites such as the American Lung Association and smokefree.gov. Reading about your own chance of contracting lung cancer or heart disease is likely to be a motivator!
As well as health risks, you can learn about quit-smoking strategies, nicotine replacement products and how other peoples have managed to stop smoking.
3. Make Money a Motivator
Okay – so I’ll admit I’ve included this tip early on because it’s what helped me quit smoking. I was amazed by how much you can save from quitting!
Set the background on your home screen to the holiday you’re saving for, or tell your partner that you’re going to treat them to dinner out this week with the money you save. It’s a great motivator because you’ll start feeling good about quitting within days!
To read more about how much you can save and why I think this is a great strategy to help stop smoking, check out the blog I’ve written all about it right here.
4. Consider Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine cravings are your enemy. They are what causes withdrawal symptoms, which means they are sat directly between you and your goal of becoming a non-smoker.
The chemical dependence that builds up when we smoke is the reason going cold turkey is so hard. However, there are ways to wean yourself away from nicotine which doesn’t involve smoking.
We’re talking nicotine gum, nicotine patches or anything else which can help you tackle withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and irritability. Nicotine dependence is a tough one to crack, so if a bit of chewing gum can help you out instead of a ciggie, we think it’s worth considering!
5. Identify Your Triggers
Nicotine addiction is a weird beast. It often takes the form of what we call an associative addiction, which is why you see a lot of “social smokers” trying to pinch a cigarette when they’re a few drinks down. You associate nicotine with another experience, meaning when you have that experience you crave a cigarette.
Maybe that experience is nipping out for a quick cigarette break with your co-workers, or maybe it’s the first morning coffee of the day. Identify what your triggers are and incorporate them into the plan of action (which you’ve already created if you’ve read this far!)
6. Exercise, exercise, exercise!
We’re guessing that if you’re a smoker (particularly a heavy one) then exercise might not be your number one passion. However, it’s a rewarding habit to replace smoking cigarettes with – now that you’re on your journey towards quitting it’s time to rediscover the joys of getting out there again!
Your heart rate returns to normal just twenty minutes after your last (and yep, we mean last!) cigarette. After seventy-two hours, deep breathing becomes easier. You’re on your way to enjoying exercise again!
If you’re worried about the potential weight gain that might come from quitting, then beginning to exercise is a great way to supplement smoking cessation. Whatever sport or workout to pick, remember the key thing is that you enjoy it! You don’t necessarily have to torture yourself by jogging at 6 am every day. Find something which works for you!
Even smokers who only indulge a few times a week are at much higher risk of heart attacks. Exercising reduces that risk.
7. Make it Physical – Visualize it
I mentioned in step one that you should write your plan down in physical form. In step three, I said that you could consider setting a date with your loved one, using the money you save.
These are ways of helping you make your goals into physical, tangible things. Finding a buddy to quit with will create accountability and motivate you. Using post-it notes as reminders around the house will help you remember the health risks when you’re tempted to slip up.
Get creative with it! Grab a marker and write something motivational on your pack of nicotine gum. Make a big, bold list of reasons you want to quit and place it where you usually smoke.
I always think that a visual goal is already a more achievable goal. It takes seconds – write them down!
8. Use Whatever You Can
Now you’ve got that big list of reasons pinned up, you’ve re-enforced the fact that you really want to quit smoking – right? Well, then it’s time to achieve that goal by any means necessary!
I already mentioned nicotine replacement products as a way to deal with your withdrawal symptoms – in fact, I believe they’re better than e-cigarettes because they don’t involve the physical act of smoking.
However cognitive behavioral therapy is another helpful thing to try. It involves changing your thought patterns. If you’re stressing out, your first thought is probably “I need a cigarette.”
One goal of behavioral therapy is to change this. Doesn’t “I’ll take five minutes and have some healthy snacks” sound better? “I’ll practice some deep breathing?” Perhaps. You could even consider how hypnotherapy will help.
You often hear that new habits are formed or forgotten in 21 days – this article from James Clear suggests that it can take longer. However, your withdrawal symptoms will subside in a matter of weeks.
9. Have a Plan For ‘Need A Ciggie Now’ Situations
Addiction to smoking holds us in its grasp in a number of ways. We feel stressed when we can’t get the phrase ‘I need a cigarette’ out of our minds.
As I mentioned in the point above, we can train our minds to think of an alternative, however, it is also handy to have a more active short-term plan when that situation arises.
How about a quick game of Tetris to keep your hands busy? Or giving your cat some love – it’s been proven that stroking your pet can relieve stress. Another of my personal favorites from this PushDoctor list is to take a bottle of water and mercilessly drown a cigarette in it.
Everyone is different – find something that works for you. Little things like this can help you in the battle to quit smoking!
10. Hold Your Head High
Quitting smoking is an achievement that will help you in other ways. Setting and reaching goals is a skill that can be transferred to other aspects of your life. Think of smoking cessation as an exercise in positive thinking – hold your head high!
The journey towards being a non-smoker is by no means easy. There may be slip ups along the way – there will probably be withdrawal symptoms and times when you’re close to crumbling. However, we promise you that the net benefits are worth it!
A positive attitude is key. With the tips we’ve given you and a dose of healthy optimism, you’ll be on your way in no time. We believe in you!
Now you’ve read these ten awesome tips to get you started it’s time to download the Quit Genius app, which has helped over 27,000 people quit at the time of writing! Start your journey ->
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