Death by cigarettes has to be one of the most preventable and expensive ways to die. Sadly, something so addicting is even more dangerous. Smoking cigarettes is arguably the most difficult vice to drop.
Whether quitting alcohol, drugs, porn, cigarettes, food, or whatever, if someone is willing to recognize something in their life that is negatively impacting them, that is significant. Because certain behaviors are so addictive, being able to decide to change in a positive and healthy way is an accomplishment.
Nicotine is the chemical in cigarettes that the brain becomes used to receiving. The first three days after your last cigarette are the most difficult. Once passed, the hard part of quitting is over.
Once the three-day period is behind you, the brain is less responsive to the triggers that push a person to light a cigarette. As more time passes, it becomes easier to resist the urges.
The urges are still very much there, especially if you have smoked for a long time. Discipline and genuine desire to drop the habit become challenged in the following days. Having a plan to override the urges is one of the biggest hacks for successful quitters.
The sooner a person can quit smoking cigarettes, the sooner the positive side effects associated with quitting take effect. Health, financial, physical, and mental benefits are synonymous with putting cigarettes down. The only thing stopping a smoker from living a better life is themselves.
Mayo Clinic recommends a solid set of steps to take if someone wants to quit smoking cigarettes.
Smokers vary in terms of how much and how often they smoke. The following suggestions come from a baseline of the most effective methods.
The following ten suggestions have helped hundreds of thousands of people cut down and eventually kick the habit.
- Nicotine-replacement therapy (patches, gum, vape, low-nicotine cigarettes) is the first recommended way to quit as they all help a smoker move downward in doses of nicotine ingested at the time of consumption.
- Avoid Triggers, anything that would inspire a person to light up, avoid it. It's not simple, anyone who genuinely wants to quit has to consider alternative methods in dealing with the urges, should they strike.
- Delay the craving when it hits. Try telling yourself to wait, and then a few minutes more. Doing this will help discipline your brain and help rewire it. If you're familiar with Pavlov’s Dog, the brain begins to expect nicotine in certain situations. Disassociating the thing the brain craves has proven to be a fast-tracked method of quitting smoking.
- Chew on something. One of the nicotine-substitutive methods mentioned before was gum, but regular gum can take the edge off just as much. If you're struck by the physical need to do something, chewing gum, sucking a lollipop, putting a straw in your drink, and even the pull-string on your sweatshirt can be enough to do the trick if you need to do something at the moment.
- You won’t 'only have one,' don’t let yourself fall for the trick. As soon as you cave in on the desire, you’re hitting the reset button. Don’t. Discipline is key. The 'just one' trick is typical and expected. Overcoming that specific urge makes the rest of the journey SO much easier.
- Physical activity is one of the best ways to quit, for multiple reasons. For starters, if you feel better, you can do more. The health and physical stigmas associated with smoking are enough to make any smoker reconsider their habit. Like chewing gum, physical activity makes the body move. When the brain realizes its power when physical restraints are no longer in place, possibilities present themselves.
- Relaxation techniques are generally effective in diffusing the urges that would typically stress a person out and push them to have a cigarette. Relaxing not only helps a person cope with stress, but it helps smokers realize the multitude of ways they can physically overcome the urge. Yoga, watching tv, listening to music, a beach trip, whatever it is that brings you to a peaceful state, do it,
- Find support. If you smoke, chances are someone in your life has urged you to quit. Assuming they aren't under your skin on the issue, enlist their help in quitting. Friends, family, support groups, and online resources are proven ways to kill the urge.
- Remind yourself of the benefits. Listing them would extend this article way beyond its message, and everyone has their reasons for wanting to quit. Maybe someone close to you has become ill or died from a smoking-related illness, maybe you have children you want to see graduate school one day, maybe you’re trying to save money, or maybe you’re noticing changes in your health. Whatever the reason is, someone else out there has done it, and you can too.
- The tenth suggestion wasn’t on the Mayo Clinic list of recommended quitting strategies. It worked for me five years ago and I haven’t looked back. I smoked for nearly ten years, and the more time that passes, the more foolish I feel I was for smoking. I recommend setting your reason to quit on something that means a lot to you. The guilt in succumbing to the triggers when something you love is on the line is very real. That was how I finally nipped it in the bud. I encourage anyone else looking for a reason to quit to look within and find the thing(s) that push them to live a better life – because that’s exactly what you will do.