All of us know the health risks associated with cigarette smoking, still, it is one toughest habit to kick. It does not matter if you are a casual smoker or pack-a-day chain smoker, smoking harms everyone equally. One of the reasons that make us difficult to quit smoking is the amount of nicotine a single cigarette contains. It offers you a temporary relief, helping you unwind and releasing the stress. But, what it actually does is, it reduces the blood flow or the pulse rate in our body which gives us a placebo effect of relief.
There are more than 4000 complex chemical elements in a single cigarette, 43 of which are carcinogenic. There are many toxic elements such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, tar, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, nicotine, arsenic, and DDT. Most of these chemicals are found in fertilizers that we spray in our farms to ward off pests. If this does not alarm you, then tobacco use in the form of cigarettes and second-hand smoke is responsible for nearly 480,000 deaths in our country.
Not only do we need to alter our behavior and cope with withdrawal symptoms experienced while kicking the habit, but we also need to concrete ways to help us quit smoking completely.
Here are some important steps that you can take to quit smoking:
Be strategic and set a quit date
Quitting to smoke is not an overnight process. You might need more than one attempt to quit the habit. There are many smokers that dive right in and just quit smoking. Lack of planning to quit the same can cause triggers and withdrawal symptoms to pull you right back into the habit. Big changes in life are a result of strategic planning. Hence, it is recommended to set a date to quit smoking. Prefer to quit on a day that does not have too many stressors (like chasing a deadline) or leisurely days such as holiday parties.
Identify triggers that urge you to smoke and work on them
Triggers are basically cues that urge us to smoke. Some common triggers that can be associated with an urban lifestyle include work-related stress, driving, or going out for a drink. Note down what triggers you and work on them to come up with alternatives that can help you avoid lighting up a cigarette.
For instance, if you are habituated to smoke while driving, keep a pack of mint chewing gums handy. Pop them whenever you get the urge. Belt out a playlist of your favorite songs that lighten you up and distract you from reaching out to grab that pack of cigarette. While at work, if you have scheduled a time to take a smoke break, then utilize that time to catch up with your colleagues. Play a quick game on your phone or go for indoor games that your office might facilitate.
Get smart about quitting your addiction
Smoking is more of a physical addiction than just a “bad habit”. Educate yourself about the harmful effects of smoking. Knowing about the grim repercussions of long-term smoking can boost your chances to quit the habit. Once you have learned about the same, talk to your healthcare provider or a pharmacist about medications that can help you quit smoking. Medications such as a nicotine patch, NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) chewing gums, and prescription-based nasal sprays and inhalers can make quitting easier.
Talk to someone about your addiction
Seek behavioral support. The emotional and physical dependence on smoking makes it tough to keep your hands away from cigarettes. Consider telling a friend, family or even a coworker. Talk to anyone you trust or empathizes with you. Enrolling for a session of group therapy or individual counseling in person or through phone can also help you concrete your intentions to quit smoking. Research suggests that behavioral support clubbed with other methods can increase your chance to break the habit by as much as 25%.
Alternative therapies can also help
Although there is no strong evidence that proves alternative therapy increases your chances towards quitting to smoke, many smokers have found these to be a catalyst for the same. Alternative therapies include smoking deterrents, hypnosis, acupuncture, cold laser therapy, yoga, mindfulness, and meditation.
Deciding that you are ready to quit is only the half of the battle. Knowing when and where to start can help you take the big leap. Take a pledge this ‘World No Tobacco Day’ and decide to quit smoking once and for all.