Addiction changes our brain chemistry and tricks our brain into believing we need cigarettes. After smoking over long periods of time, the brain and body becomes dependent on the chemicals the cigarettes are providing. Because of this, stopping can be a challenge — but it can be done.
Make Your Plan
Trying to quit smoking on a whim will be much harder than coming up with a plan and sticking to it. By making a plan, you can make decisions beforehand such as whether to use nicotine replacement therapy or attend classes. Pick a date and be sure to prepare yourself as you approach your target date.
One thing you can do as you approach your date is to pay attention to what triggers you to light up. Triggers can be anything from a certain location, a certain time, a place, or even boredom. Knowing your triggers before you quit can help you avoid these temptations or at least be aware of when your cravings will be the strongest. Stock up on candies, foods, or gum to distract you from smoking. Use this time to set up a support system which can include:
- Nicotine replacement therapies, such as the patch, the gum, electronic cigarettes
- Smoking cessation classes
- Friends and family who don’t smoke
When you reach your quitting date, be sure to get rid of any extra cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, and anything that will make lighting up easy and convenient. Holding on to any extra cigarettes and lighters will only make giving into temptation that much easier and also establishes the idea in your mind that cigarettes are valuable.
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Tips for Managing Withdrawal
The brain has become so used to getting nicotine that smoking cessation will temporarily cause unpleasant physical and emotional changes. Think of your brain as a young child being denied something that it wants. The child will beg, pled, and throw tantrums until finally giving up. Your brain will follow this same pattern attempting to justify smoking and even go so far as to cause physical pains in demand of nicotine. Here are some tips to help quell those cravings.
- Wait: It is very important to remember that cravings are natural and they will pass. Usually cravings will pass within 15-20 minutes at most. Knowing that the intense urge will not last will help you stay focused.
- Replacement: Instead of smoking try to do something else such as drink water, snack on candies or gum, or exercise.
- Keep busy: Do something to pass the time and keep your mind off of smoking. If you are having a really intense urge, try to go somewhere you cannot smoke, like a movie theater or mall.
Stay Smoke-Free For Life
One of the best ways to stay smoke free is to remain dedicated to your plan. Remind yourself how challenging going through withdrawal was. Reducing your overall stress levels can help you feel empowered. Try to exercise, take warm showers, attempt breathing exercises, or even mediate. Continue to remind yourself of all of the benefits of your new smoke-free life!