Over 16 million people in the US have a disease that has been caused by smoking. Smoking is directly linked to cancer, heart disease, lung disease, stroke, diabetes, problems of the immune system, and rheumatoid arthritis. Still, for people who are addicted to smoking, quitting is extremely challenging. Consider these 5 tips to beat the habit for good.
1. Identify triggers
When changing any behavior, people need to identify situations where temptation is most potent. For example, some people may be more likely to smoke at a bar or when overly stressed. People can set up for success by identifying these triggers and then making a plan to resist temptation. For example, if smoking and watching TV used to go hand-in-hand, have a paper and pen nearby to keep the hands busy when the temptation to smoke arises.
2. Distract yourself
When a cigarette craving strikes, physical activity can be a welcome distraction. Try going for a walk or running up and down the stairs a few times to lessen the intensity of the craving. If stuck at the office, a few squats or pushups can do the trick. Specific chores and hobbies, such as vacuuming, knitting, or journaling, can also serve as a distraction.
3. Remember your reason
Whether the motivation is to live longer, save money, or spare loved ones from secondhand smoke, everyone has a reason for quitting. When the tobacco craving hits, write down or repeat these reasons aloud. Identifying the why behind quitting is perhaps the most powerful motivator there is.
4. Find ways to relax
For many, smoking is a coping mechanism for dealing with stress. Learn to channel stress in other ways, such as through deep breathing, yoga, meditation, massages, or listening to music. These same relaxation techniques can also be used as distraction strategies when cravings are intense.
5. Seek support
In the effort to resist a craving, try connecting with a family member or loved one. Identify a person who can be an accountability partner to go for a walk or chat with on the phone when a tobacco craving is intense. Many people also benefit from finding a support group where others can commiserate about the journey of quitting.
Quitting is possible
Although quitting smoking is difficult, remember that each time a person resists a tobacco craving, progress is made. Kicking the habit for good is possible. For more information about smoking cessation and tips for quitting, speak with a healthcare provider.