Making the decision to quit smoking is only one-half of the battle. But it is a vital step to take when deciding to pursue a smoke-free life. With strong urges and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms to combat, establishing a well-structured and healthy plan is essential for a successful journey. 

Whether you choose to go cold turkey or want to learn how to quit vaping, following straightforward and practical advice will help you move towards a healthier and happier life. 

Find Your Reason

When attempting to make any significant change in your life, having sufficient motivation is essential to your success. You should establish a powerful and personal reason to quit to get motivated. 

It may be wanting to protect your loved ones from secondhand smoke, lower your chances of developing lung cancer or other serious illnesses, or to look and feel younger and healthier. The reason must be strong enough to outweigh the urge to smoke when those feelings inevitably surface. 

Write them down or say them out loud to remind yourself why you are taking these steps for those days when you feel you are struggling more than usual. 

Prepare for Quit Day

Once you have decided to quit smoking, you need to set yourself a ‘quit day.’ Pick a date that is not too far in the future but gives you time to prepare for the dramatic change. There are several ways to stop, but you must decide if you will quit abruptly on your assigned date or start to gradually reduce your intake until your chosen date and then stop entirely once you are there. 

Research has shown that neither method produced more successful rates, so choose the plan that suits you best. Furthermore, use the time leading up to your ‘quit day’ to prepare your game plan, build new daily habits that eliminate smoking, research counseling options and NRTs, and build a strong support system with your friends and family.

Use NRTs

Going cold turkey and quitting tobacco without the help of NRTs (nicotine replacement therapy) is a popular way to quit smoking. But studies have shown that only 6% of these attempts end up being successful, as many underestimate how powerful a nicotine addiction really is. 

NRTs can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, which can jeopardize your attempts to quit. They are designed to support your body weaning off cigarettes by supplying a controlled dose of nicotine free of the other harmful chemicals in tobacco.

The FDA has approved five main types: skin patches, chewing gum, lozenges, nasal spray, and inhalers (the latter two being by prescription only). Should you choose to pursue these, it is strongly recommended that you discuss your dose with your GP to guarantee you are receiving the right amount. 

Lifestyle Changes

Making too many changes at once will become overwhelming and ultimately backfire. Instead, keep things simple and make small dietary changes that will allow you to include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats into your eating plan. It will make your body feel better and give you something different to focus on during the initial quitting process. 

Furthermore, being more active will naturally reduce nicotine cravings and help ease withdrawal symptoms. The next time you feel the strong urge to reach for a cigarette, put on your walking shoes instead and get outside. As an added extra, you will help ward off any weight gain that comes from quitting. 

Seek Therapy & Support

Your physical and mental dependence on smoking is a major reason why quitting is so difficult. It is crucial that you seek additional support from trained professionals to work through these dependencies and give yourself the best chance of success.

Behavioral support is the most common form of therapy, including group or individual therapy and written information booklets. The most effective method is individual counseling that can be tailored made to your specific needs.  

Let your family, friends, and those close to you know you are trying to quit. They can be a great support system in your journey and encourage you to keep going when things get tricky. Additionally, joining support groups with others in the same position as you opens you up to a network of others who understand your struggles and can celebrate your achievements. 

Avoid Other Triggers

The urge to smoke is at its strongest when you are in the environment where you smoke most often, like bars or parties, after meals, during your morning coffee, or when you feel stressed and overwhelmed. 

Ensure you know your triggers and set yourself a game plan to avoid these situations or effectively navigate your way through them without using tobacco. If you usually have a cigarette with your morning coffee, switch to tea for some time to break the habit. If you typically smoke after your meals, replace the activity with something else, like taking a walk. 

Try Again

Research has shown that most people who attempt to give up smoking relapse at least once before kicking the habit altogether. If you end up lighting up, don’t feel discouraged. Instead, replace those negative thoughts with questions allowing you to evaluate what led you to relapse, including your emotions or settings. 

Use the opportunity to reaffirm your commitment to quitting, and when you have made the decision to quit again, set a new ‘quit day’ within the next month to work towards once again.