Quitting smoking is almost as hard as becoming a pop star. There is no clear path that has been already laid out, that works for everyone. And a lot of people who try, find the odds against them overwhelming and they give up. Addiction is a personalized thing. So it takes a strong knowledge of why the addiction exists in the first place to start developing your plan. It could require appointments with professionals like your doctor, therapist or nutritionist, a solid knowledge of your body and mind, a plan and discipline to reach your end goal.
We can’t give you a list that assures you that you will be free of cigarettes after a certain period of time, but we can give you some tips that might help you design your own plan to quit smoking.
1. Decide you’re quitting, not just reducing
If you are going to quit, then own that decision and commit to smoking zero cigarettes. Do not reduce the amount of cigarettes you smoke a day, because any amount of cigarettes hurts your health. “You are either committed to quitting or not,” says pulmonologist Jonathan Waxner. Some people say ‘I am going to cut back from 10 to 2 a day,’ but the likelihood of them completely quitting is very slim. If you don’t commit to quitting completely, you are likely to be back up to a higher number of cigarettes in a short period of time.
2. Keep a journal
Write down the reasons you are quitting smoking. You can rewrite them daily if it helps. “Writing down goals helps to accomplish them,” says Waxner who stresses the importance of knowing what happens to your health if you continue to smoke. “It can lead to emphysema, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer, pneumonia, chronic cough, shortness of breath, chronic oxygen use and respiratory failure.” Typically, individuals whose health is affected by smoking are the ones that are more motivated to quit. Knowing what could happen and reminding yourself what you are potentially protecting yourself from can often help you stay on track.
3. Be aware of the consequences of smoking
If you are thinking about quitting, you already know that smoking is bad for you. “A lot of of my patients want to stop but don’t,” says Waxner. “I tell them that people are free to do whatever they want, even things that are harmful as long as they accept the consequences.” Those consequences don’t only affect you, they affect your friends and family. “People know they shouldn’t be smoking. I tell them that if you are OK with getting any or all of the above medical problems listed above then continue smoking and tell all your friends and family to go screw off,” says Waxner. “Smokers need to accept responsibility for their actions. If you are not happy with the possibility of getting diseases then stop. The choice is yours.”
4. Do this for you
It’s best not to think about what other people are doing and how they have managed to quit. You will have a unique journey and you should put all your focus on what you are doing as opposed to looking at other people’s success rates. “What someone else does shouldn’t affect you,” says Waxner. “You should quit because you want to and you know that you shouldn’t be smoking. It is all about personal freedom, making choices and accepting responsibility.
5. Create a new universe
The smoking habit you have developed is embedded in your general lifestyle. When you decide to quit, you may have to make a lot of changes to the way you do things. This can include the friends you surround yourself with, the leisurely activities you partake in and the restaurants or bars you frequent. “The same old same old is what made you fail in the past,” says Waxner. “You must change your routine so you put yourself in a position to succeed.”