Trying To Quit Smoking? 11 Stop Smoking Tips from a Psychologist
“I can quit whenever I want”, “I’m not really addicted”, “I’ll quit after this week”, “We’ll all die someday anyways”… Quitting smoking can be hard, and if you’ve ever heard, or said, any of these, you probably know someone who is addicted to smoking. The good news, however, is that sometimes these people decide to quit smoking-that’s where we come in.
Quitting smoking is a really hard decision for some people, and it takes patience and constant will-power. Do you want to know how to quit smoking? If you don’t smoke, but your boyfriend or girlfriend does, or a family member, or a friend, keep reading. We talked to psychologist Mairena Vazquez to get some stop smoking tips.
According to the CDC, in 2014, 17 of every 100 US adults (16.8%) smoked cigarettes.
An estimated 15,000,000,000 (15 billion) cigarettes are sold daily worldwide.
Tobacco is a drug that causes physical and psychological addiction and tolerance. It has more than 35,000 toxic chemicals, one of which is nicotine (one of the components that’s responsible for the physical dependence and addiction), nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and different types of tar.
Most people know that tobacco is smoked in a cigarette, but there are different types of tobacco: cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco… and now we have smokeless tobacco (e-cigarette), which despite its name, is just as dangerous as normal cigarettes.
Quitting smoking may cause some withdrawal symptoms, which are generally characterized by: anxiety, need for nicotine, anger, irritability, easily agitated, depression… Some people may notice problems sleeping, dizziness, fatigue, and headaches.
Problems caused by tobacco:
Tobacco causes a number of problems that can be divided into three groups:
Smokers have a higher mortality rate than non-smokers, higher possibility of cardiovascular or heart diseases, blocked arteries, different types of cancer (lung cancer is most common), gastritis, and stomach ulcers, and lung diseases like chronic bronchitis or emphysema of the lungs.
Smokers have higher arterial hypertension, brain damage, and a higher risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Pregnant women who smoke may have problems during the pregnancy, causing birth defects or even miscarriage or prenatal death.
Think about when you see a fire caused by a cigarette butt on TV, or when the beach is covered in cigarette butts...It’s causing so much damage!
Like people who can’t tolerate smoke or the danger or second-hand smoke, and the economic repercussions of smoking.
Alright, let’s do it- Stop smoking tips
“I’ll quit smoking eventually, but it’s not the right time”, “I swear I’ll quite after vacation”. “I know I could if I wanted to, but I just don’t want to”, “I could quit whenever I want”….No more excuses. It’s time!
The first step to quitting smoking is realizing that you have a problem, an addiction to tobacco, and that you don’t want to be addicted anymore. From now on, everything comes down to consistency, will-power, and patience.
Everyone is different and has their own way of doing things, which is why some people have more success quitting “cold turkey”, and others do better by cutting back little-by-little so that it’s more gradual. Think about what might be best for you. If you try to take a gradual approach, make sure you’re actually working towards your goal. If you see that you’re not making progress, think about trying to quit cold turkey.
Stop Smoking Tips
1. Things work better when you write them down
The first stop smoking tip is to write down what you want to achieve. By writing it down, you have a better chance of making it happen. Write “I want to quit smoking, and I’m going to do it”. Write down why you want to do it, and the benefits that quitting smoking comes with (I’m going to save x amount of money a month, I’ll feel better and know my health is improving, I want to improve my quality of life, I’ll be able to play football again, I won’t smell like tobacco anymore, my friends and family will be so proud of me…) Make sure that you keep this piece of paper somewhere visible, where you’ll be able to see it whenever you’re thinking about smoking.
2. Support can go a long way
You’ve made a huge decision by deciding to quit smoking, and it’ll be easier to do if you feel like those around you are rooting for you. Friends, family, your boyfriend or girlfriend, people at work…even your dog can help you get where you want to be, because some animals feel things just like humans!
There are also a ton of different resources available online and for your phone to keep you on track, like Kwit, Quit smoking, Butt Out, Craving to Quit, Smoke Free…remember-you’re not alone.
3. Say goodbye to all everything related to smoking
Throw out your ashtray, lighters, packs of cigarettes, rolling tobacco, chewing tobacco…It’s time to start anew!
4. In the first few days…
In the beginning, especially in the first few days, you’ll notice that you’re desire to smoke is heightened. Don’t worry- it’s normal and it happens to most people who decide to quit smoking. Lean on your friends and family at this point. Tell them how you’re feeling and let them help you.
Try to stay away from places where people are smoking to help avoid temptation. Sit inside rather than outside, don’t stand with the smokers at a bar, do some exercise, drinks lots of water, get some sleep, stay away from alcohol or coffee if it’ll make you want to smoke…
5. Stay away from situations that will make you want to smoke
There are probably certain places or situations that will make you want to smoke more than others. For example, your morning cigarette with your coffee, smoking during your breaks at work, or smoking with a specific friend…Stay away! If you’re used to smoking with coffee, drink tea instead. If you eat after every meal, change the habit and brush your teeth…there are tons of options, you just have to find what’s right for you!
6. When you feel like you need a cigarette in your hand or mouth…
This happens to a lot of people. This simple feeling of having a cigarette in your hand calms you down…but don’t let it beat you! There is a solution for everything! Use pens or toothpicks instead of a cigarette. Chew gum, get some hard candies, suck on lollipops… be creative. But be sure to find things with no sugar! Some people gain weight when they quit smoking, but this has more to do with the substitutes they use to replace smoking than quitting smoking itself!
7. What should I do when I feel a craving to smoke?
First, remember that getting annoyed or frustrated at every little thing is normal when you’re quitting smoking. But remember, just like these feelings come on strong, they will pass as well. You might notice your heart rate speed up, or faster breathing.
Chewing gum will be your friend in these kinds of situations, and learning some relaxation techniques will help you stay calm and get past the craving. Go for a run, take a shower, talk to someone who makes you feel calm. Give these relaxation techniques a try.
8. “Mens sana in corpore sano”
Or, “healthy mind in a healthy body”. If you’re able to keep your mind busy, you’ll realize that your craving will start to go away. Use the time to do activities that you didn’t used to do, like going hiking or doing puzzles…Anything activity is a good activity in this case, as it will help you keep the bad thoughts at bay.
9. If you’re feeling like you need nicotine, find some alternatives
The best thin you can do when you’re really craving nicotine is to talk to your doctor about some possible alternatives, like the patch, nicotine gum, etc.
10. Ah! I slipped up!
Relaaax! Were you at a wedding and you had a cigarette? Were you so anxious that you could control your urge to smoke? Don’t worry about it- you’re a champ, and this little slip-up isn’t going to tip you over the edge, right? Think about why you smoked and what brought you to do it, when it happened, and how.
Remember, your decision to quit smoking is a huge deal, and any effort you’re making to stop should be noticed. Don’t beat yourself up over one slip-up. Keep moving forward to your goal!
11. You’re doing great!
No one said that quitting smoking was easy… in fact, they probably told you the opposite. You might be having a hard time right now, but you’re doing great, which is why you deserve a little treat. For every goal you reach, give yourself a treat.
One week without smoking? Buy those shoes that you’ve been wanting forever. One month? Take the day to do whatever you want to do- go to the beach or theme park… Anything you can think of- You deserve it!
Remember that a ton of people are in your shoes and have been able to quit smoking for good! Think about how good you’ll feel when you can finally say you were a smoker.
This post was originally written by Mairena Vázquez, CogniFit psychologist.
Alejandra is a clinical and health psychologist. She is a child specialist with a diploma in evaluation and intervention in autism. She has worked in different schools with young children and private practice for over 6 years. She is interested in early childhood intervention, emotional intelligence, and attachment styles. As a brain and human behavior enthusiast, she is more than happy to answer your questions and share her experience.