10 tips for quitting smoking that actually work
Everyone knows the risks associated with smoking, but that doesn’t make it any easier to stub out the habit.
Whether it’s your first time thinking about quitting or your 10th, giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.
With Stoptober just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to send those cigarettes packing by joining the thousands of people looking to stop smoking this October.
Breaking an addiction can be tricky, and you may need something other than willpower alone.
Keep reading to find 10 different tips to help you kick the habit for good.
1. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
Odds are, you probably don’t pick up that cigarette because you like the taste; it’s because you’re addicted to the ingredient nicotine.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) provides you with a small amount of nicotine to keep your cravings at bay, without the danger of inhaling any of the poisonous chemicals in tobacco smoke.
There are lots of NRT products to choose from, such as skin patches, inhalators, chewing gum, tablets, and sprays.
There isn’t any evidence that one NRT product works better than another, but using more than one is proven to be more effective.
So it’s important to choose the products you enjoy, like your favourite flavour of chewing gum, to ward away the temptation of reaching for a cigarette.
2. Get chewing
Put simply, if you’ve got something in your mouth, you can’t smoke.
Stock up on healthy snacks like seeds or nuts, or start munching on raw vegetables like a carrot, cucumber or celery - something to keep you busy and satisfied.
If that doesn’t dampen the urge, try a hard-boiled sweet or chewing gum; but remember, you’re going to be using a lot of them, so make sure they’re sugar-free!
3. Stay away from triggers
Where did you smoke the most?
Whether it was at parties, during long phone calls, or even being around people who smoke - think about where your trigger situations are and avoid them until you’ve broken the habit.
If you’ve had a drink or someone invites you to smoke, it can be hard to say no.
4. Delay it
This is the one time where procrastination is a good thing.
If you’re itching to smoke, tell yourself to wait 10 minutes, then distract yourself for that period of time.
Clean your car, go to a smoke-free zone or cook a time-consuming meal that requires your concentration.
These methods might be enough to make you forget about that nagging craving.
5. Contact loved ones
Stopping smoking isn’t a battle you have to face alone.
For the days when you’re struggling, get in touch with a friend or family member for support.
Whether you go for a walk, a coffee, a sit-down meal or just chat over the phone, they may be able to offer you some tips and tricks to get you through.
6. Get professional support
There’s plenty of free, professional support out there to help keep you on track.
The NHS offers a Personal Quit Plan which gives you tailored advice and recommendations, and they even locate local services that you can rely on.
You can also reach out to your GP, which a lot of people don’t realise.
They can enroll you in a ‘stop smoking’ clinic or even offer you prescribed medication to help you quit.
7. Online support
Worried about seeking help in person?
You can get support at your fingertips by downloading the free NHS Quit Smoking app.
The programme helps to track your progress, see how much money you’re saving, as well as daily advice.
You’ll find like-minded people by joining a ‘quit smoking’ Facebook group.
You could discuss the things you swear by or rant about the things you find difficult - by helping others, you can also help yourself.
Not only does exercise keep you distracted until your tobacco cravings pass, but it may reduce their intensity.
In fact, you could be without a craving for up to 50 minutes after exercising.
Exercise isn’t for everyone, but just walking up and down the stairs, a short jog on the spot, or a series of squats and pushups can be enough to rid yourself of a craving.
Many people smoke as a method to deal with their stress levels, but if you’re in the process of weaning yourself off smoking, it might be time to practice other relaxation techniques.
You could try deep-breathing exercises, yoga, a massage, or listen to calming music.
Sometimes, spending time doing the things you love can help you relax, too.
Immerse yourself into your hobbies or even start a new one - with all the money you’ll save from buying cigarettes, you’re bound to have a head start.
10. Remind yourself of your reasons
When things become hard, remind yourself why you started this journey.
Think about your happier, healthier future self and how proud they’d be of you for resisting.
Or maybe you’re doing it for your loved ones, to get rid of their troubled looks each time you spark the lighter, or spare them from the damage of secondhand smoke.
Whatever your reason, think about it - think whether just one puff is worth throwing away all the progress you’ve made.
Can I quit smoking cold turkey?
You can quit smoking cold turkey, which means that you just stop smoking without any support or treatment to help you to get through the cravings, but it can be a difficult way to quit.
When the cravings hit, without proper support you can find yourself falling back into the habit of smoking just to help you to get through it.
Research has shown that those who quit with proper specialist support and medication are up to 225% more successful than those who quit cold turkey, so make sure you explore all of your options when you decide to quit.
The decision to stop smoking can be very difficult and you may start to feel overwhelmed, especially if you begin to experience side effects.
But nothing worth doing is easy, and ditching the cigarettes for good will not only benefit your physical health, but also your mental health by improving mood and relieving stress, anxiety, and depression.
For more information on how you can breathe better this October, visit the NHS Stoptober website.