BY BRIAN PENNY
We’re up and running full-swing into 2014, and it’s time to take a look at all those New Year’s resolutions you made. One of the most popular resolutions made every year is to quit smoking cigarettes. Any smoker will tell you quitting smoking is easy – they’ve done it dozens of times and could do it again anytime they want. If you want to quit for good but aren’t sure how, here are a few tips, facts, and brain hacks to make it possible:
1. Accept Both the Mental and Physical Addiction.
Nicotine is a chemically-addictive drug, affecting the mood receptors in your brain. Smoking is a lifestyle that involves frequent smoke breaks, impulse purchases, and peer pressure. In order to quit smoking, you’ll need strategies to address both; admitting you have an addiction is vital – an important mental step – and soothing the physical cravings is important as well.
2. Do Something With Your Hands.
Smoking puts you in a comfort zone. You get used to reaching for a cigarette when you’re bored, after a meal, after a difficult project; soon you’re rewarding yourself with a smoke like they’re candy. Instead of rewarding yourself with a cigarette, reward yourself with something else…like candy. Eating a small Snickers bar isn’t the healthiest thing you can do, but it’s better for you (and, ultimately, cheaper) than a cigarette. If the act of eating isn’t enough, try a lollipop.
3. Take Your Mind Off Smoking.
When you get a craving to smoke, sitting around doing nothing is probably the worst thing you can do. You’re going to get antsy, and the craving to smoke will become a Tell-tale Heart, eventually driving you mad. Go out for a quick walk, play a video game on your phone, or do any small activity that will kill 10–15 minutes and give you a break in the cycle of need.
4. Talk It Out.
Telling people you’re quitting smoking is important. Many people skip this step because they don’t want anyone to know if they cheat, but the reality is you’re only cheating yourself this way. By being open and honest with friends and family, you’re building a support structure to help you not to fail. Just don’t expect them to do everything for you – you’re going to have to do the legwork yourself, and it’s not fair to put the pressure on loved ones for your life choices.
5. Seek Professional Help.
Whether you succeed or fail, family and friends support you more than they support your vices. Sometimes the love of friends and family isn’t enough; luckily, a cornucopia of options exists for smoking cessation. Your work may have an employee support line that can help, and your health insurer (and likely your State, as well) will have some sort of support number you can call. There are also plenty of websites with smoking cessation directories. Here are some smoking cessation resources from Cancer.org to get you started.
6. Acknowledge and Reward Your Achievements.
Yes, people will eventually tire of your updates of, “I haven’t smoked in two weeks,” or, “I only had one cigarette this week,” but people also tire of baby pics. If you don’t kill your baby and start with a new one every time someone’s uninterested in their pictures, you shouldn’t stop celebrating the other minor victories in your life. If you quit a pack-a-day smoking habit in the US, you’re saving yourself $35–$105 per week (depending on where you live). Use that money to treat yourself for your discipline. Make a game out of it, and always thank yourself for being so good to yourself.
7. Try Tobacco Alternatives.
These days, alternatives to tobacco exist everywhere. Patches and gums provide a nicotine fix without inhalation. eCigarettes are a great alternative to smoking as well, since they replicate the act and lifestyle of smoking, while removing the harmful additives and carcinogens. Be careful with eCigs though: it’s a new industry, and there are a lot of sharks in those waters looking to make a quick buck.
The above steps are meant only as general guidelines. I can provide all the facts, but at some point you have to just go out there and simply stop smoking. Every time you try to rationalize why you’re giving up on quitting, take control and remember that you’re in charge of your body. You should never compromise with yourself; instead follow through on your New Year’s resolution, and create a healthier, non-smoking you.