I would like to share with you my personal story on how I was able to kick the tobacco habit. At the same time offer my tips on why I was able to succeed. In my life, I have seen many loved ones pass away too early because of cigarettes. The ability to quit smoking is not an easy one. Hopefully, these ideas can help you along the way.
It is essential to deal with the two ways nicotine grips us. The physical and the behavioral. Both need a way to break the cycle. It is simple but not easy. Once I chose to quit, whenever I smoked I thought of all the negative things about smoking. How I hated the way I smelt. How I can’t taste food as well as I have before. How I get winded walking up a flight of stairs.
I avoided at all cost enjoying the cigarette because that reinforces the addiction. Don’t “This smoke is soooo good.” It’s not. It is killing you slowly. Remind yourself of that. You have to break that mindset.
The concept is simple, and can be used for any bad habit: Make a plan. Set goals. Reward success. Don’t punish failure but reevaluate/readjust your goals. Keep trying. Keep trying. Keep trying.
Replace Negative Behavior with Healthy and Positive
When I had a craving to smoke, I went for a bike ride. I replaced the nic fix with exercise. Riding my bike for me was a return to my youth. It was fun, helped elevate my heart rate, and improved relive the urge for a cigarette. Exercise is the best because of the natural benefits, but other things helped. I also played video games to keep my mind and body occupied. You will need to find that healthy habit that can replace the urges to smoke. It could be tying fishing flies. Maybe it is knitting. Look for something that is fun, and that keeps both your mind and hands busy.
Tackle the Physical Addiction
When you smoke, your body develops a chemical dependence on nicotine. The first thing you need to do is destroy that chemical dependency. It takes a few weeks or even a month. What I did was set goal or limits on how many smokes I could have in a day. I slowly weened myself from tobacco. I smoked about a pack a day. For the first week, I tried only to smoke 15 cigarettes. Then the next week just smoke 12, and slowly reduce the amount I smoked per week until I was not smoking anymore. Next start adding up days being smoke-free.
There are all those nicotine patches and gums. These could be useful. Personally, I didn’t want to replace the cigarette with another nicotine delivery system. But for someone who has smoked for 20 years, it may be helpful.
Tackle the Behavioral Component of Addiction
The hard part is dealing with the social situations. You want to quit smoking, but you don’t want to quit your friends. This struggle of quitting also deals with the rituals of smoking: that smoke after a meal, smoking with the poker buddies, the first mornings drag. Even after years of being smoke-free, I occasionally have cravings after a large meal. Once the physical dependency is gone, you will have to reshape the way you live.
Start by taking note of those critical times like the morning and evening smoke, or after meals. Know where you need the most help. This can be one of the most challenging parts of quitting. At these critical times, take baby steps and reward yourself when you succeed.
I played a little game – how long can I last until that first-morning smoke? I would set a goal for myself and push that time back after each success. Take pride when your first-morning smoke was at noon is stead of 8 am. Good job.
Make goals and reward yourself for the achievement. When I chose to quit, I was smoking less than a pack a day. Set goals to only smoke seven cigarettes a day. Then next week only 5. When I made that goal, I would reward myself. I take the money I would have spent on smokes and get something cool or go to the movies. You could make a money jar and put all the money you would have spent on cigarettes. Then buy something nice for yourself as a reward.
Be proud when you reach your goal. Remember all those people who have urged you to quit in the past? Tell them when you achieve your goals. Make them your cheerleaders. You do not have to do this alone.
There is no point in kicking yourself when you are down. If you fall from your plan, don’t punish yourself for trying. Take it as a setback that you had to smoke. Readjust your road to success. Then keep working. Think of each failure as a stepping stone on the way to victory. It will be hard enough to kick the habit. You don’t need to create new obstacles for yourself. For myself, I had only been a smoker for 5-7 years. For someone who has been smoking since they were 12, that voyage to smoke-free is a long and difficult one. It took me 3-4 times to finally quit. Don’t quit quitting.