Are you ready to quit—or at least try? If you smoke, it's the one gift you can give yourself, and the family and friends who are exposed to the smoke of your cigarettes. If you're a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle, you also can be a role model for the younger ones. Show them it's not good to smoke, and that you're willing to do what is needed to help protect yourself and them by kicking the habit.
Get ready to quit
Preparing yourself emotionally for the process will help tremendously.
Line up support
Enlist your family and friends to give you moral support.
Avoid smoking traps
If you always smoke when you are in a bar, then when you are actively trying to quit, avoid putting yourself in this setting. You will have much better luck if you avoid situations where you would normally smoke.
Find new habits
When you feel like grabbing a cigarette, take a walk, or do some deep breathing exercises. Many reformed smokers talk about how the only deep breaths they ever took were when they were inhaling. Try it without the cigarette! Your lungs will love you.
Find ways to keep your hands occupied. Many people find knitting, needlework, or even jigsaw puzzles help.
Control your oral fixations
When you are craving a cigarette grab a vegetable stick or apple slice. Even chewing gum can make the craving go away.
Walk, garden, bike, or do some yoga stretches. Being active will keep your mind off of cigarettes with the added benefit of making you feel better and helping to prevent weight gain.
Know what to expect
In the beginning you may experience temporary withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, irritability, tiredness, and trouble concentrating. These are signs that your body is recovering from the effects of smoking and will most likely end within a couple weeks.
Ask for help
The American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society, hospitals, offices, and community groups offer programs for support.
Be good to yourself
What you are attempting is amazing, so get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, and eat three healthy meals daily. Give yourself a pat on the back for making a major, positive change in your life.
If you slip, don't give up or get discouraged
Get right back on track. It doesn't mean you can't quit. Keep thinking of yourself as a non-smoker, and before you know it, you will be!
Published on July 11, 2008