If you are considering quitting smoking, congratulations! Here are some tips to help guide you in being successful:
Know the reasons why you want to quit: To be successful in quitting smoking you want have reasons for quitting that are stronger than the urge to smoke. Think about what motivates you to quit. For example, when you quit you:
▪ Stop damage to your body and lower your risk for COPD, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
▪ Protect your family and friends from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
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▪ Fight colds and other respiratory infections more easily.
▪ Have better smelling breath, hair, clothes, home and car.
▪ Prevent premature wrinkles.
▪ Improve blood flow to your organs.
▪ Have more energy.
▪ Save money.
Make a plan: Make a list of situations, places, people and emotions that make you more likely to smoke or use other tobacco products. These are triggers and being aware of them can help you avoid them or be ready for them. For example, if you smoke after a meal. Make a plan to immediately get up after your done eating and go for a walk.
Set a date and let your family and friends know your plans.
Throw away cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays. By doing this it will make it less easily to start again, especially when you have a strong urge to smoke.
Get substitutes: Chew sugarless gum, or eat hard candy, sunflower seeds, carrot sticks, beef jerky or other healthful snacks when you feel like smoking or using other tobacco products.
Contact your provider for a prescription medicine: Nicotine replacements can almost double your chances of quitting for good. These include: nicotine patches, gum, inhalers, lozenges and nasal sprays. These products let you slowly decrease the amount of nicotine in your system over time. Using NRT as you quit tobacco may reduce cravings and ease physical symptoms. The use of nicotine is slowly decreased over several weeks or months.
Medication is also available to help reduce your cravings for nicotine or decrease the positive feelings caused by nicotine.
Always let your healthcare providers know about all the medicines, vitamins and other supplements you take.
Get support: Talk to family and friends. Join a stop-smoking support group or class
Manage stress: Ask for help when things start getting overwhelming.
Find ways to relax such as listening to music, taking up a hobby, walking, watching movies, reading, journal writing, doing deep breathing exercises, meditating, volunteering in the community, joining a group or a class.
Start an exercise program (under your healthcare provider’s guidance).
Get plenty of rest by sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night.
Eat healthy and get plenty of water (15.5 ml per weight in pounds).
Know the signs of nicotine withdrawal:
▪ Trouble concentrating
▪ Increased cravings for nicotine
▪ Increased appetite
Keep trying: The effects of nicotine withdrawals are different for every person. Generally the first 72 hours the symptoms are most intense and most people no longer feel the effects of withdrawals between 6 to 8 weeks after quitting.
Most people that quit for good have tried more than once to quit before they succeeded. So keep on trying. You can learn to live without nicotine in your life.
Mary Lou Martinez is a respiratory care practitioner and asthma coordinator for Sutter Health’s Community Health Education Department.