Every year, we write our lists of things we want to accomplish to become a better version of ourselves in the new year. Popular New Year's resolutions include exercising more, eating healthy, losing weight and quitting smoking. Research shows that upwards of 70% of smokers say they want to quit, but not everyone is successful. Part of that is not doing the right preparation to quit. Whether you want to know how to quit smoking cold turkey or how to stop smoking with a more gradual method, we're here to help. With these practical tips, you can start 2023 on the right foot with your goal of quitting cigarettes.
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How to make a plan to quit smoking that works for you
Setting up a plan is a great way to start the process of giving up nicotine. That plan begins with examining your habits and considering what will work best for you.
Examine your current smoking habits
Once you've decided you want to stop smoking, it's a good practice to come up with a plan you will follow through with. That starts with looking at your smoking habits and figuring out how to change it.
- Become aware of how much you smoke: Before you cut back, it's important to understand how much you're smoking to begin with. It might be more than you think. Count how many cigarettes you're smoking each day and write it down so you can look at that number.
- Identify the reasons you smoke: There are certainly reasons that you smoke or use tobacco and the next step in your journey is understanding them. There's a good possibility that it's a years-old habit that doesn't feel like it has its reasons anymore -- but think about why you started in the first place and why you turn to it throughout the day now. Every time you want to smoke, write down why you're doing it.
- Think about why you want to quit smoking: Having a reason in place will help you stick to your guns when it comes to giving up tobacco. Whether it's for your health, the sake of your children or another reason, figure out why you really want to quit smoking -- beyond just quitting for the sake of quitting. While quitting for the sake of quitting is a great way to start, having something you can visualize in the tougher moments of this journey can definitely help you push through when you feel like giving up.
Learn how smoking affects your body
Smoking and general tobacco use can have a very negative effect on your body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "smoking can cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis." All of these physical concerns can also lead to issues with your mental health with the added stress of a medical condition.
Studies have also proven that smoking at night may be a direct cause of insomnia, and poor sleep health can lead to other health issues like obesity and heart problems. The CDC also points out how harmful secondhand smoke is too. Secondhand smoke causes around 400 infant deaths each year.
Set a goal
Goals can help keep you motivated, but beyond one big goal of "quit smoking," set smaller goals that you can achieve along the way. Maybe you start with giving up smoking one day at a time. For a month, commit to not smoking on weekends. When you make it through the month, treat yourself and move onto the next goal. This feels more manageable than quitting cold turkey (though that method certainly works for some people).
Try nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy -- like a nicotine patch or gum -- can help curb cravings for nicotine. These low doses of nicotine have been proven in numerous studies as a positive resource in giving up smoking. If you're considering nicotine replacement therapy, it's not a bad idea to speak to your healthcare provider to decide which product may work best for you.
Consider prescription pills
You can also speak to your doctor about a prescription medication to help you quit smoking. Chantix and Zyban are two popular prescription medications for smoking cessation that you can discuss with your doctor. Pfizer shared research on the effectiveness of Chantix, with various studies demonstrating upwards of 40% of participants successfully abstaining from smoking while using the drug.
Create a support system
Surrounding yourself with people to lean on while you're going through what will certainly be a difficult time can help you not only be successful but also stay motivated. When you're feeling like you want to give up, these people can help you keep going.
- Let your friends and family know your goals: Share your goals with your trusted circle who will support you -- but leave out anyone who won't. Let them know what your goals are and let them know how they can help you. If you want them to not smoke around you, mention it. If you want them to cheer you on, tell them that. If you want them to be a silent supporter, lexpress just that.
- Create your community: It's also important to find people who are either currently going through the same journey as you or have at some point, because they'll understand you better than anyone. Online communities and in-person communities like Nicotine Anonymous and Smokers Anonymous can be helpful.
- Seek professional help: You can also turn to your doctor or therapist for guidance and support while you give up smoking. They can provide you with further resources or medically backed reasons for quitting. They can also help you see the positive effects your physical and mental health are going through as you smoke less and less, which can help keep you motivated.
Plan for the side effects
Most people who give up smoking experience withdrawal symptoms. When weaning yourself off tobacco, the CDC says you can expect to feel irritable, restless, hungry, depressed, and sad. You may also have trouble sleeping and see some weight gain. All of these are common, but it's fine to speak to your doctor about anything that doesn't feel right to you.
The CDC also recommends exercise as a way to deal with the restless, anxious feelings. Exercise will raise your heart rate and get your endorphins going, which can improve your mood. Plus, it's a way to channel those negative side effects into something positive.
Celebrate your wins
While it's great to celebrate reaching your big goal, it's just as important to celebrate smaller goals along the way. The first day you fully go without smoking, treat yourself. Once you hit a week, treat yourself again. Buy yourself a nice meal out or go get ice cream. Go have a spa day or buy yourself some shoes you've been eyeing. When you start, set up a bank of rewards you'll give yourself so you know exactly what you're working toward.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.