Quitting smoking is only half the battle; stopping smoking for good can be just as tough. Learning to deal with nicotine withdrawal symptoms and breaking the habit of smoking is the key to avoiding the temptation of cigarettes and never smoking again.
What to do When There is the Urge to Smoke
When the urge to smoke strikes, consider the reasons for giving up smoking in the first place. These may include:
- Improved overall health and less wrinkled skin
- Not smelling of smoke all the time
- Fear of getting cancer or another smoking-related disease
- Preventing an early death due to smoking
- Fear of one’s children becoming smokers
- Not having to stand outside in the freezing cold just to smoke
- Not being in the grip of an addiction
- Having more money to spend on better things
Make use of smokers’ help lines, support groups and website forums for someone to talk to if things get really tough. Nicotine replacement therapy, although it’s not for everyone, can greatly increase the chances of a smoker staying stopped when nicotine cravings kick in.
How to Break the Habit of Smoking
Many smokers miss the repetitive hand to mouth action of smoking. Chewing sugar free gum and snacking on healthy foods such as nuts, carrot sticks and fruit can help with this. To keep the hands busy, play with something else other than a cigarette, such as a pencil, coin or ring. Take up knitting or sewing, or play a computer game. Avoid situations associated with smoking until the urge to smoke has faded.
Contrary to popular belief, nicotine does not reduce stress because it is a stimulant. What smokers perceive to be stress is often actually nicotine withdrawal. Cigarettes merely calm the craving for nicotine they created in the first place. Find other ways to cope with stress and relax, such as deep breathing exercises, listening to music, herbal teas, chatting to a friend, yoga and other forms of exercise.
Is it OK to Smoke the Odd Cigarette?
Having one cigarette, or the odd one here and there, is a slippery slope. It is true that smoking one or two cigarettes a day is better than smoking 20 a day, but unfortunately, due to the addictive nature of nicotine, one cigarette often leads to another, until an ex-smoker has reverted back to old habits and is a smoker again.
Similarly, changing to lower tar cigarettes is not likely to help much either. Smokers who switch to a lighter ‘healthier’ brand often tend to inhale more deeply, taking more puffs of each cigarette and smoking more cigarettes to compensate for the lack of strength.
Smokers sometimes even feel that by having just one cigarette every now and again will prove they have kicked the habit and that they have it under control. This will do nothing to help nicotine withdrawal symptoms go away. Just one puff of a cigarette can lead someone to start smoking again, it is better for most smokers to stop completely.
What if Other Smokers are Unsupportive?
When a smoker decides to quit, he or she will hopefully be surrounded by people who are supportive of that decision. However, there may be the odd so called ‘friends’ who will still offer their cigarettes, perhaps even forcefully, and attempt to sabotage a smoker’s efforts to quit. If this happens, break the cigarette in half and waste it; they probably won’t offer again.
Ex-smokers should praise themselves for managing to go without cigarettes, it is quite an achievement. But it is important to take quitting smoking one day at a time rather than thinking about never smoking again. Just focusing on getting to the end of the day without smoking is far easier, especially in the beginning.