How to Stop Smoking

how-stop-smoking

If you had told me last week that I would be smoke free today, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was one of those people who had a massive panic attack just thinking about not smoking any more.

I have tried giving up* before and failed miserably. I even used Champix and had a cigarette as soon as I went off the tablets. I have been smoking more or less continuously for 30 years.

Although I am by no means an expert, here is how I stopped smoking.

(*the phrase “giving up” is fucked – you are not giving up anything)

PHASE ONE – BRAIN WASH YOURSELF

★ Play mind games with yourself by blaming everything wrong with you, your friends and the world on smoking — read this GREAT article by Mark Manson…

mm quit smoking

★ Convince yourself that everything will get better once you stop smoking — you will no longer have bad skin/hot flushes/arthritis etc. etc. (even though you know it may not be true).

★ Remind yourself how filthy and disgusting smoking is every time you light up.

★ Only allow yourself to smoke outside in the cold, standing up, or somewhere else uncomfortable.

★ Add up how much it costs you a week.

★ See it as a physical addiction to the drug nicotine, like injecting heroin into your veins.

PHASE TWO – DON’T MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF QUITTING SMOKING

★ You don’t have to stop on Monday and you don’t have to stop at the beginning of the day. Mornings are the hardest for me so I stopped after three cigarettes on a Wednesday (when my packet ran out).

★ Keep some cigarettes handy (don’t throw them away). I don’t do deprivation well so I needed to know I could still choose to smoke. I had (and still have) an unopened packet of cigarettes in the cupboard. If that choice had been taken away, I would have gone out, bought a packet out of spite and smoked them (weird I know).

★ If cold turkey is too scary a prospect, start with nicotine replacement therapy. I used NRT for just over a day until I realised I was in this no man’s land of being in mild withdrawal all the time but without any end in sight. I took my patch off and went for it. I don’t think I could have done it if I hadn’t taken that first baby step.

★ Tell somebody you’re attempting to stop. Lean on their support and encouragement.

PHASE THREE – DO MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF QUITTING SMOKING

★ I actually stopped smoking around the anniversary of my ex-husband’s death. The only part of me that still lingered from my old life was my smoking habit, and it was time to let it go. You are no longer the person you were when you began to smoke so you don’t have to do it anymore.

PHASE FOUR – WITHDRAWAL

★ Physical withdrawal lasts for a maximum of 72 hours. If you can get through a cold, you can get through nicotine withdrawal.

★ Warn your friends and family to ignore any of your emotional outbursts including getting irritated over nothing and crying for no reason.

stop-smoking-pinMillions of people with less intelligence /good-looks /money /talent /support /determination etc. have survived nicotine withdrawal so you can too.

★ Every withdrawal attempt is different. Just because last time you went through hell, this time might be piss easy.

Don’t expect to suffer from every symptom you’ve ever heard about. Some people can’t sleep, while others have the best sleep of their lives. Some people get constipated and others poop more than they ever have. Just notice each physical change as it turns up and remind yourself it will be gone as soon as the nicotine is out of your system.

Don’t resist the cravings, welcome and embrace them. Stop what you’re doing and feel where the sensation is in your body — your throat, your chest, your stomach? By the time you’ve tried to locate it, it is usually gone. I’ve been known to shout “Come on then, bring it on. Do your worst!”

[R]emember that quitting is mostly a mind game. It’s only as big of a deal or as difficult as you make it. The physical effects and withdrawal symptoms aren’t any worse than those of a common cold. The struggle is mental. And if you decide that the struggle is monumental, then it will feel monumental. Conversely, if you decide it’s just a temporary roadblock in your life that you must take a few weeks to overcome, then it will be.    {Mark Manson – How I Quit Smoking for Good}

★ Do something physical to make yourself breathe more deeply. I took up jumping rope every time I thought about smoking. Short bursts of activity filled my lungs with good, clean air.

★ Imagine nicotine as an ugly little monster in your head. Every time you get a craving, that is him begging for food. If you ignore him for 72 hours, he will shrivel up and die. Bye bye!

★ Nicotine isn’t a cure for anxiety or stress, nicotine creates anxiety and stress by putting you in a constant state of withdrawal. The relief you feel when you smoke is the end of withdrawal, not an infusion of calmness. Once you break the cycle, you will feel calmer than you ever have before all the time.

★ If you feel jittery, check your caffeine intake. Smokers have a high tolerance for caffeine which disappears when you go off the drug. Try cutting down to half your usual amount. My Diet Coke habit is now down to one can a day.

★ Listen to hypnosis or subliminal suggestions. Who knows if it works? It can’t hurt.

stop smoking subliminal

★ Drink lots of orange juice, or cranberry juice to flush the nicotine out faster.

★ If you think you’re going to crack, tell yourself you can have a cigarette in an hour if you still really want one. Chances are you will have forgotten about it.

★ Suck on Tic Tacs or other low calorie lollies. Eat carrot sticks. Drink water.

★ Get an app for your phone that celebrates the days you are smoke-free, your health improvements and the money you’ve saved.  Mine is called Smoke Free.

bull

Throw things at your partner. My boyfriend brought home a bull-shaped stress toy which I discovered I could throw as hard as I could at his head and it wouldn’t hurt. Don’t forget to shout, “Incoming,” before you launch your missile.

Read books explaining what is going on. Aside from Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking which everyone talks about, I also discovered this (free) book which I highly recommend – Never Take Another Puff by Joel Spitzer.

PHASE FIVE – THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

★ It takes two weeks for all traces of nicotine to leave your system. Anything physical, mental or emotional that happens in the first two weeks is not a preview of your future self.

★ Set your intention to stay smoke free one day at a time.

(a) If something horrible happens and you want to start smoking again, tell yourself you will wait until tomorrow. This will give you time to reflect properly on your decision before you throw away everything.

(b) You get to celebrate every night when you get into bed for a job well done. I put a sticker next to the date in my diary. If I was quitting for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t get to achieve that goal (and celebrate) until I was at death’s door.

★ A “slip up” means you will return to the same level of smoking you were at before you quit, or you have to start withdrawal all over again. There is no “just one” cigarette or even a puff.

★ You won’t spend your life in a constant state of wanting a cigarette, unless you believe you have “given up” something. You get to control your thoughts — make them good ones.

… and that is all I have got for now. When I have been smoke free for longer I will get back to you. In the meantime, tell me …

Have you quit smoking? What advice would you give your smoking self?

just-begin

About Katie Paul

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing • Join the hottest group on FB → Sassy Midlife Women

13 thoughts on “How to Stop Smoking

  1. This advice is excellent for so many life changes. The part about embracing the cravings is brilliant. It helps with pain. Don’t fight it, accept it and it dissipates.

  2. Katie, I read exactly the same books to prepare and they made all the difference. Knowledge really is power.
    I too made my quit day not too much of a big deal … and then made it a big deal. I chose May 4th, as in: “May the 4th be with you.” It’s almost like I feel the force every time I say it 🙂 It’ll be 2 years in 2 weeks!
    You are so right about it being all in our mind. In fact, once my husband saw me do it and I explained how much of it was in our way of thinking, he did it too. No fuss, no bother … just done. He smoked over 40 a day when he quit, and he’d been smoking for 40 years.
    Truthfully, there are times when I’d love to enjoy a good smoke like I used to, but I never go for it because, at this point, I know it would never be the pleasure that it once was. The pleasure came from being addicted and satisfying a craving, and I’m not addicted anymore.
    You can say that too! We are no longer addicts!!
    May the 4th be with you. 🙂 (My husband sends you an “atta girl!”)

  3. This is a timely article for me! I’ve been smoking for almost 7 years now and I don’t want to even think about how much damage I’ve done both to my body and my bank account.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. This is a best article on behalf of me..I’ve been smoking for pretty much three years currently and that i don’t need to even trust what proportion injury I’ve done each to my body and my checking account.

  5. I opened this article just to read your story, but I love all the ways to coped with it (especially the one about throwing things).
    I tried to quit smoking and couldn’t seem to do it, then one day I discovered I was pregnant, that was the end. Thank God that no lasting damage was done to my daughter from the little while that I smoked before I knew I was pregnant. I think if I hadn’t have become pregnant I would still be smoking, it is a hard habit to break.
    The wonderful is that you are right, I found I was so much calmed after I quit since I wasn’t having withdrawals that I needed to fill. Way to go, and thank you for sharing your success story!

  6. Today is my first day of giving up smoking, I’ve tried giving smoking sooo many times but always fail.Thank you for a very good article and hopefully this time will be my success of smoking free 🙂

  7. Thank you for this article, I’m going to pin to reread a few times for inspiration. I am going to quit smoking after 45 years, and I am definitely the gal who panics just thinking about it.

  8. Singularly THE best article I’ve read on the subject, largely because I think very simarlarly to you. Thank you so much for sharing. I will be putting these ideas to use

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