Quitting cigarettes can be one of the hardest things a person does in their lifetime – almost everyone knows a friend or family member who’s gone through it. But when that person is you, you realize firsthand how hard it is to do — and how hard it is to stay positive throughout the process.
Want to know how to stay positive when quitting smoking? Here are the six steps you should follow:
- Identify why you’re quitting.
- Give yourself a reasonable goal.
- Create a plan of attack.
- Implement your plan compassionately.
- Gather resources for distractions.
- Be patient.
The best way to stay positive through the process of quitting is to remember the reason why you’re choosing to quit and stay dedicated to it.
It’s not enough to just decide to quit smoking for no reason – you need to identify the problem and follow through on your goal. Hold yourself to a high standard, and don’t get discouraged. Read on for more information on why quitting smoking doesn’t have to be stressful.
1. Identify Why You’re Quitting
Why do you want to quit smoking? We all know that smoking is bad for us, but what’s really behind your decision to switch?
- Are there people you have to take care of, like kids or parents?
- Does your spouse want you to stop?
- Are you trying to improve your health?
Whatever the case, you’ll notice that most reasons have one thing in common: you’re trying to live longer.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, smoking is the most preventable cause of death in America. This means that, by ending our smoking habits, we don’t just improve our health; we can prevent death itself. Instead of just giving yourself a reason to stop smoking, make sure you remember that you have reasons to stay living.
Whatever the reason is, a great way to stay positive is to remember what you can accomplish once you’ve given it up and prolonged your lifespan.
2. Give Yourself a (Reasonable) Goal
Now that you’ve identified exactly why you’re quitting, you should set a definite goal. Will you choose to stop smoking cold-turkey, or will you decrease the amount you smoke over a set period of time?
Though quitting cold-turkey has the potential to work, a study of Australian patients has shown that customizing your quit-smoking plan is more effective than forcing yourself to stop right away.
Just make sure that you’re giving yourself an exact date by which you need to stop smoking – and don’t go changing it. This will help you keep track of your goal and keep you motivated. Put it on your calendar.
Remember – you’re not doing this to punish yourself; you’re doing this to better yourself. By giving yourself a reasonable goal, you’re promoting a positive attitude that will help you in the process of quitting.
3. Create a Plan of Attack
When do you want to accomplish your goal, and how can you get there? It’s important to figure this out, because you’ll struggle to succeed if you don’t have a plan when the urge to smoke hits you.
If you’re quitting cold-turkey, make sure you get rid of all your cigarettes. It’s important to immediately distance yourself from the source of the addiction.
If you’ve chosen to take a longer approach, write out your plan. How many cigarettes will you allow yourself a day? If you already smoke a pack a day, you might choose to smoke a pack, minus one, tomorrow. The next day, you can smoke a pack, minus two. You can keep going at this plan until you’ve stopped completely.
Find the plan that you feel will work best for you and stay dedicated to it. This article from Psychology Today shows that people who write their goals down can actually be 33% more successful than people who don’t.
You can post your goal somewhere where you can see it, or perhaps make an image of your goal into your phone background. Make sure to also write down all the steps you need to get to that goal.
4. Implement Your Plan (Compassionately)
The time has come for you to put your plan into action. Don’t hesitate to start the process – the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll accomplish your goal. Waste no time!
To help with implementation, keep your goal written down somewhere you can see it and be intentional about making it a part of your daily life. If you’ve quit cold turkey, write your goal down: “I am not smoking again.”
If you’re working slowly to quit, make sure you stay with your plan. You can even ask a family member or loved one to keep you accountable by texting or calling you every day to make sure you haven’t smoked. It’s important that you keep to this plan. If you keep giving up, then you’ll develop a negative attitude towards quitting. You want to stay positive as you quit smoking.
By sticking to your plan and getting closer to your goal of not smoking, you’ll develop confidence. This confidence helps foster a happier outlook on your life.
5. Gather Resources for Distractions
It’s possible that you’ll slip up along the way – that’s okay. What you need to do in advance to avoid this is to find resources that help soothe the cravings for cigarettes. There are a vast number of options depending upon your preferences and lifestyle.
Many people choose to chew medicated gum to help them quit – Nicorette Nicotine Gum is a popular selection. Another alternative is a NicoDerm Nicotine Patch that delivers a small amount of nicotine through the skin.
Because these medicated pieces of gum and patches have small amounts of nicotine in them, when you chew or apply them, your body absorbs the chemical that you were craving, which helps to keep you from reaching for the pack of cigarettes.
If you want to look for a more natural alternative, you might be surprised to know that one of the world’s most common spices, black pepper, has been scientifically proven to curb cigarette craving.
This study shows that inhalation of black pepper essential oil helps soothe cravings and keeps people from reaching for cigarettes. If you’re interested in trying this, the NOW Essential Oils Black Pepper Oil can be used for aromatherapy.
While these strategies aren’t strictly related to staying positive, their cutting the urge to smoke will make it easier to elevate your mood and stay motivated
6. Be Patient
It’s crucial to be patient with yourself in the process of quitting smoking. It’s not an easy thing to do.
According to a researcher from the University of California, San Francisco, it’s thought that quitting cigarettes is as hard to do as quitting cocaine or heroin. Have compassion for yourself, knowing that what you’re doing is difficult but has immense benefits.
One way to improve your level of patience is to remind yourself of the benefits.
Here’s an example: when you quit smoking, your health has the potential to improve dramatically. According to the National Health Service of the UK, within years of quitting, your risk of heart disease and lung cancer is cut in half.
To stay positive while you quit smoking, you need to remember your reason for quitting, and you need to stay strong. Make sure your reason for quitting is clear. Is it for your health? For your looks? For your family?
Once you’ve identified the reason, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself on course:
- Set a reasonable goal that you feel you can attain. You might choose to go cold-turkey, or you can gradually quit over the course of a few days or weeks.
- Create a plan to keep yourself on track and set that plan into action.
- Make sure you have some gum, patches, or black pepper oil on hand for when you’re getting an intense nicotine craving.
- Be patient with yourself and be proud of yourself for making the right decision – you have a lot more life ahead of you now that you’ve quit smoking.
- The New England Journal of Medicine: “Smoking: Health Effects and Control”
- ScienceDirect.com: “Smoking status of Australian general practice patients and their attempts to quit”
- Psychology Today: “Goal-Setting is Linked to Higher Achievement”
- Amazon: Nicorette Nicotine Gum to Quit Smoking
- Amazon: NicoDerm CQ Nicotine Patch
- PubMed.gov: “Inhalation of vapor from black pepper extract reduces smoking withdrawal symptoms.”
- Amazon: NOW Essential Oils Black Pepper Oil
- Heart.org: “Why it’s so hard to quit smoking”
- NHS.uk: “Quitting is the best thing you’ll ever do”