Lots of permanent quitters admit they had to take a couple of runs at quitting. So don’t give up if you’ve tried and failed in the past.You can do it! More people are doing it every year! Here are five facts that might help as we count down to next month’s No Smoking Day.
1) Identify trigger situations like the after-meal smoke and change your habit. Perhaps take a walk instead of making a coffee. Or go and sit with your kids. And identify cigarette friendly foods and avoid them, too. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, tea and coffee tend to make cigarettes taste better, so substituting the smoke with anyone of these might not help. When you’re out drink water or juice or something that doesn’t go with your usual cigarette. Some people find simply changing their drink really impacts on the craving (even switching from wine to a spirit at the pub). Same thing for food. If you connect your cigarettes with food that makes them taste good, swap those foods for things that make them taste terrible (cheese and fruit are good ones to try).
4) A craving lasts five minutes, so arm yourself with some five minute strategies to help, like everytime you crave a smoke go and chat to a colleague (if you’re at work), or get up to dance (if you’re out for the evening), or call a mate (prep him or her so they can talk you through the moment). Remember to get rid of ashtrays, lighters, matches and any cigarettes in one go, on the day you commit to quitting.
3) Remember, too, that you are up to four times more likely to quit successfully with expert advice, so seek out Quit programmes and ask about nicotine replacement therapy which can double your chances of stopping. Seek out the support of non-smokers and/or buddy up with someone who is also trying to quit.
4) Exercise. Research has shown that even a short burst of exercise helps cut cravings and may help your brain produce anti-craving chemicals. Commit to three sessions a week swimming or gym-ing, take a walk after dinner, or simply jog on the spot and stretch whenever the urge to light up hits you.
5) Carry with you the reasons why you want to stop. A photo of your children, some stats on the health benefits, a tally of how much you’re saving by not buying cigarettes… And remember those health benefits! Smoking is THE single most important step you can take to protect your heart and smoking is THE most preventable cause of cancer (smoking causes at least 15 different types of cancer). After just a few weeks your breathing will improve, after a few months any coughs and wheezing will reduce, and after just a year of not smoking your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who hasn’t quit. The risk of cancer decreases after you stop smoking, and continues to decrease as more tobacco-free times passes.
With thanks to NHS, British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research. Check out www.bhf.org.uk for more information.