Quitting is possibly the biggest single thing a smoker can do to protect and improve their health. For example, within a year after quitting, an ex-smoker’s risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half. That’s why tomorrow, November 21st, is the Great American Smokeout. Here are some tips for breaking the habit:
- Plan ahead. Consider what your triggers are and what is likely to cause a relapse, and prepare ahead of time to deal with the temptation.
- Don’t quit during a stressful time in your life. Quitting smoking is itself stressful, and if it’s also crunch time at work or school or something like that, you’re more likely to fall off the wagon.
- Tell your friends. Let people know you’re trying to quit, and have them help hold you accountable.
- Look for support. If you know another smoker who is interested in quitting, try getting together. There are also support groups for quitters in many places, or on the internet.
- Don’t be afraid to take advantage of resources that are available. Quitting smoking doesn’t only count if you do it all on your own cold turkey. The point is for you to break the habit, and any way you can do that is good.
- Don’t set yourself up for failure. Your goal shouldn’t be to quit forever, only for one day. And the next day. And the next day. As with any addiction, short-term success is still success.
- Nicotine affects the digestive system, and your body has grown used to it. To ease the transition, drink cranberry juice or other acidic fruit juices for your first few days without cigarettes.
The most intense cravings are usually in the first week. Once you’re past those, it may not be smooth sailing, but staying smoke-free becomes substantially easier very quickly. Good luck!