If you’re going to quit smoking, you’ll need to deprogram yourself.
As you smoke, not only have you become addicted – in other words, dependent physically, psychologically and in terms of your behaviour – but you’ve also developed thoughts and habits that have strengthened the ties cigarettes have over your life. These ties are so strong that they have been described as a smoker’s reflexes. You can’t change thoughts, habits and reflexes like these simply by swallowing a pill or making a New Year’s resolution.
If you want to free yourself from cigarettes, you will have to deprogram yourself. To be successfully, you will need to examine yourself objectively and then identify and apply practices and tips that correspond to your personality and will help you through risky situations.
The strategy behind the tips that will help you quit cigarettes can be summarized in three words :
Tips to help you quit: Delay smoking your cigarette …
- An urge to smoke lasts less than five minutes. Every time you feel an urge, find something else to do (preferably something you enjoy), and your urges will come less frequently. This is how you will succeed in deprogramming yourself.
Tips to help you quit: Avoid cigarettes …
The idea is to change how you think and what you do, to reduce or eliminate your exposure to the things, people and situations that make you want to smoke, or that reduce your chances of success.
- Eliminate a cigarette break by doing something else that you enjoy.
- If people offer you cigarettes, say no.
- Challenge some of your preconceived ideas or clichés concerning your relationship with cigarettes (e.g. “cigarettes are my best friends”, “it’ll never be as enjoyable with a beer, a coffee, etc.”, and so on).
- Do things with non-smokers.
- Smoke your first cigarette of the day later than usual.
- Smoke a few less cigarettes each day.
- Keep your pack of cigarettes, matches or lighter and ashtray out of reach.
- Eliminate the smell of cigarette smoke from your clothes, your home, etc.
- Reduce or avoid coffee, tea, cola and alcohol for as long as it takes.
- Avoid negative thoughts; concentrate instead on your motivators and goals.
- If you’re a woman, schedule your quit date after your monthly period, when the withdrawal symptoms will be less severe.
Tips to help you quit: Replace cigarettes with something else…
You’ve trained your brain and body to depend on cigarettes in order to feel good. It’s therefore important to do things you enjoy, so as to break your cigarette-related habits. Obviously, as far as possible you’ll need to avoid the activities and even the people you associate in your mind with cigarettes, until you’ve been deprogrammed.
- Move! Replace cigarettes by sweat-inducing physical activities that you enjoy or would like to try (e.g. fast walking, fitness training, in-line skating, hockey, swimming, basketball, badminton, soccer, cycling, volleyball, climbing, dancing, boxing, karate, jogging, etc.).
- Have fun! Look around for other activities that you enjoy and that will allow you to laugh – for example, improvisation, acting, movies, reading, singing, music, etc.
- Keep your hands busy! Keep your hands busy with something else – for example, an elastic band, a paper clip or a pencil. If you’re used to smoking while talking on the telephone, hold the receiver in the hand you would normally use to smoke. Get involved in DIY, draw something, take up photography, play a musical instrument, work on a computer, pet your dog, play with an anti-stress ball, etc.
- Keep your mouth busy! If you feel you need something in your mouth, chew gum, a cinnamon stick or a straw, brush your teeth several times a day (toothpaste makes cigarettes taste bad), eat carrot or celery sticks or other fresh foods, drink a lot of water, etc.
- Tip kit! Make a NS (non-smoking) kit from a selection of the items listed above, and keep it close by at all times.
- Positive thinking! If you’re capable of finding a pretext to smoke, you should also be capable of finding an excuse not to smoke. It’s a matter of positive thinking.
- Support person! Have someone you can talk to, both when things are going well and when they’re not.
- Relax! Sleep a lot, stretch out, breathe deeply or yawn, decorate your environment and learn some relaxation techniques.
- Reward yourself! Reward yourself regularly with the money you save by not buying cigarettes. Suggestion: open a separate bank account for a vacation, a boat, a motorcycle or a dream you’d like to turn into reality