Most smokers want to quit. They understand that tobacco isn’t healthy, and they know that smoking can affect their appearance, appetite and ability to breathe properly. They may also be aware of the many cancers associated with smoking.
But quitting isn’t easy. It is especially difficult if you’ve been smoking for years and are addicted to nicotine. Overcoming a substance use disorder requires dedication and perseverance. Some days might be tougher than others, but quitting is possible.
Quitting smoking can save you from a lifetime of health problems. No matter your age, it is never too late to give up tobacco use. And you can take a number of steps to quit successfully.
Write down your goals for quitting smoking. During this time, detail your reasons for quitting. Think of ways to avoid situations that can lead to smoking, and make a list of people you can contact if you are tempted to smoke. This quit plan can help you stay confident, motivated and focused on avoiding tobacco use.
Staying active can keep your mind off of smoking. You can go for a walk or run around the neighborhood, see a movie with friends, lift weights or participate in recreational sports. Exercising can also help you maintain a healthy weight and boost your overall well-being.
Mindfulness activities such as meditation or yoga can relieve stress. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found yoga to be an effective complementary therapy for reducing smoking and anxiety among women. Yoga exercises incorporate breathing techniques that fill your lungs with fresh air, which can help clear your mind.
Nicotine replacement therapy is a safe and effective way to alleviate nicotine withdrawal symptoms, a set of distressing effects that often cause people to return to smoking. These therapies include patches, lozenges, inhalers, gums and nasal sprays that provide small amounts of nicotine to help people gradually taper off of cigarettes. A number of these therapies are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating nicotine dependence.
Counseling can assist you in understanding the underlying problems in your life that contribute to your smoking. A counselor can also offer you alternative methods for relieving stress. Additionally, participating in a 12-step program such as Nicotine Anonymous can provide opportunities to get advice and support from others in similar situations.
People, places and things can cause cravings to smoke. Avoid spending time with smokers and going to bars or restaurants where smoking is permitted. Instead, forge friendships with nonsmokers and choose smoke-free establishments. You should also clear your home of cigarettes, lighters and other items that remind you of smoking.
Quitting smoking is difficult to do alone. Enlist the support of loved ones who sympathize with your situation. Tell them about your dedication to overcoming smoking, and if they smoke, explain that their nicotine use can trigger your cravings. They likely will avoid tobacco use in your presence and offer encouragement on your most stressful days while you are quitting.
By quitting smoking, you’re improving your long-term health. Smokers who quit experience cleaner skin, lower cholesterol, better lung function, stronger bones and a healthier immune system. They also lower their risk for various cancers.
According to the American Heart Association and the U.S. surgeon general:
The health benefits of cutting nicotine from your life cannot be ignored. By planning your abstinence in advance, understanding the dangers of triggers and surrounding yourself with supportive individuals, you can quit successfully and live a longer, healthier life.
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