While blowing the horns of doom and gloom is not the nicest thing to do around someone struggling with addictions, it is hard to ignore the fact that smoking is dangerous. Whether you smoke to deal with stress, feel good, or kill time, each drag you take brings you closer to trouble. According to reports on the Global Burden of Disease, over 8 million premature deaths occurred in 2017, no thanks to smoking. Even worse, about 1.2 million people died from inhaling second-hand smoke.
Smoking is also a risk factor for lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory conditions, and several other leading causes of death around the world. So how do you stop smoking? Do you just toss your cigarette packs into the trash can and call it a day? We all know it doesn’t work that way. Smoking is addictive, and a lot of people try to quit every year, without success.
In this article, we will discuss why you are finding it hard to quit smoking, along with ways you can end your smoking addiction in 2020.
Let’s get the ball rolling.
A study taken in the United States showed that 7 out of 10 adult smokers wanted to quit. Indeed, quitting is the only way to be safe from the harmful effects of tobacco. In fact, barely 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate goes back to normal. Hold on to your decision for just another 12 hours, and your blood’s carbon monoxide levels return to normal. Furthermore, if you can stay up to two weeks without smoking, your lungs will begin to heal and function better.
When you quit smoking, your body quickly begins to recover from the damage that has been caused, but full recovery can take years. You can also count on the positive results you will get in your social, financial, and corporate life. But with these facts already known, why is it so hard to quit smoking? Your struggle with smoking addiction is tougher than you’d expected because of some factors in play. I believe we can summarize these as physical, mental, and social factors.
This is heavily linked with nicotine. On average, a smoker gets 1 to 2 milligrams of nicotine from a regular cigarette. You could get more or less, depending on how deeply you inhale, how many puffs you take, etc. Nicotine is known for its ability to trigger the release of dopamine, our pleasure hormone. The release of dopamine causes a temporary feeling of relaxation and ecstasy. However, once these effects wear off, your original feelings return, prompting you to crave for another round of smoke—and nicotine.
Eventually, as your body gets used to nicotine, developing tolerance and dependency for the substance, you will find yourself needing to take more rounds to feel better. If you decide to quit smoking, your body kicks off with a dark phase known as ‘withdrawal’. Withdrawal is not fun at all, and several people find it hard to overcome. It leaves you feeling itchy, depressed, and agitated. Insomnia, nausea, and fatigue are some other symptoms you can feel during withdrawal. At this point, your craving will be at an all-time high, and it will be quite tough to stick to your decision of going cold turkey.
Some people get triggered to smoke at certain times, places, and moods. These conditions are usually part of our daily lives, and when you decide to quit smoking, you keep coming across these triggers one way or the other. Having to stick to your guns, even in the face of these triggers can be very challenging. At this point, a lot of people usually decide to take just one last puff. But this will typically NOT be their last puff.
Birds of a feather flock together. It is the way of the world. Many smokers usually become part of a social group. You may find yourself regularly heading out to smoke with friends during breaks, and sometimes you may even find smoking as a common interest that triggers friendship between you and someone else. When a large percentage of your friends are smokers, it is usually tough to quit due to peer pressure.
Maybe you’ve tried a few times to break your addiction, but each time you decide to go cold turkey, you find yourself sliding back for another puff. You’re probably wondering what you’ve been doing wrong. How do you truly get done with smoking, for good? In this section, I’ve rounded up ten valuable tips you can use if you want to make 2020 the year you finally quit smoking.
Let’s get to it.
This should always be the first step you take in your quest for freedom. Indeed, quitting smoking is much more than just making the decision. There is a lot of battles to be won, not just around you, but also within you.
This is the point where you ponder about your situation, considering all the reasons you want to quit, recognizing the challenges ahead, and setting a specific date as your starting point. At this point, you also make plans about how you handle the physical, mental, and social pressures that will arise along the line. This is because, when you have your goals backed up with a solid plan, your chances of success are considerably increased.
One of the reasons why people find it hard to stop smoking is the presence of triggers. As a smoker, there are many ordinary stuff lying around that trigger you to crave for tobacco. Such stuff could be the smell of your curtain, the sight of your ashtray, a wallpaper, a lighter, alcohol, etc. While it is usually hard to get rid of all these triggers, try as much as you can to remove the ones you can find as soon as you identify them. Needless to say, you need to not just throw away your cigarettes and other tobacco products, but also empty your trash.
It is also important to note what time you usually smoke and also consider things you can do to replace your smoking routine.
You will find that your cravings will diminish. And no matter how slightly it does, it is always a win for you.
Setting short-term goals is a good way to tune down the mental pressure. You can start by going two days smoke-free. Then, you can gradually crank it up a notch higher, recognising your milestones and rewarding yourself each time.
It is crucial to remember that each hour you spend without smoking brings you a bit closer to better days. Recognize your small wins and celebrate them. Furthermore, you can save up on cash when you stop smoking. There are several apps online that help you calculate your savings, and with this knowledge, you can take out a sum and get yourself a good treat after each milestone.
If you’re really serious about quitting, you have to let relevant people know. This includes family, friends, co-workers, etc. When you make your loved ones know about your decision, you’d have their best wishes and support to help you pull through.
If you have friends and family that smoke, letting them know you’re done with smoking could be challenging. This is because you’ve probably built a social life around them, and telling them your decision is basically letting them know you don’t want to be a part of their circle anymore. While this poses a lot of challenges, it does a good job at reducing peer pressure and keeping you safe from triggers.
Also, putting the word out will bring a touch of accountability to you. Everyone will be aware of your progress, and while this can put a little pressure on you, it will also pump you up to put in the work.
As you embark on quitting, spending time around smokers can prove challenging. It goes without saying that quitting is a lot easier when you aren’t reminded of cigarettes every 20 minutes, so you may find it easier spending time with non-smoking friends and loved ones. Spending time with people who also used to smoke and have quit is also a good idea, as they’ll know what you’re going through and be able to offer first-hand advice and support.
Joining a quit smoking support group in your local area can also be beneficial, as spending time with others who are also trying to quit can be quite cathartic. You all get to share experiences and ideas and also encourage each other to keep pushing.
As you go longer without a cigarette, you will probably experience withdrawal symptoms. During withdrawal, things can get nasty, and a lot of people usually fall back to smoking at this point. This is due to the lack of nicotine, which your body had been wired to crave continuously. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is a medically approved means of releasing small doses of nicotine into your bloodstream without the use of cigarettes to enable your body slowly get over your withdrawal symptoms.
When you contact your doctor for NRT, you may get substitutes like gums, lozenges, inhalers, patches, or even nasal sprays. It is also important to pay attention to some of the possible side effects and discuss it with your doctor.
Many experts will tell you to avoid stress. But in a world where stress is part of our daily lives, it is almost impossible to avoid it. However, you can always learn to cope better and manage stress more efficiently. Always ensure you have enough rest. This is especially paramount if you used to smoke just for stress-relief.
Among other things, guided meditation is a great way to help yourself relax after a hectic day.
If Nicotine Replacement Therapy or any other prescription procedure is not comfortable with you, then hypnosis will be an excellent option for you. Hypnosis gets your mind recalibrated to withstand your cravings and gradually beat your addictions. With stop smoking self-hypnosis, you can get the full benefits of hypnosis whenever and wherever you find it most convenient.
By keeping yourself busy, you get to keep your mind from thinking about tobacco as often as usual. Also, it is vital to keep yourself busy with routines that don’t trigger tobacco cravings. You can go for a jog, learn to play the guitar, read a book, learn to cook a dish, etc.
The great part about this is that it gives you the chance to become more productive, learn a skill, and improve yourself. Furthermore, pay attention to what time your cravings usually kick in as that would be the best time to get busy with something distracting.
This is basically a mantra for anyone who wants to succeed in any sphere of life. In your quest for freedom, you may slip a few times. The pressure will pile up. The withdrawal phase will be tough. If you end up relapsing, do you just throw in the towel? No!
When you fail, the best thing to do is go back to the beginning. Find out why you failed, adjust your plans, and try again. You may have to try several times before you finally get clean. The key is just to keep trying. You’ll get better with each failure.
Indeed, it is hard to break a habit when it has become a huge part of you. However, for someone who knows the dangers of smoking, it is easy to see how this might be the best decision you’ll ever make.
It will take time, understand that, but if you keep at it, you’ll be clean in a few months.
Ensure you eat healthily, exercise a lot, and rest when you should. Also, encourage yourself by celebrating your small wins, and always reach out for professional advice whenever you need to.
Don’t be afraid of slipping up. Just be ready to give it a good fight. In the end, it will all be worth it.