Operation QUIT: Stop Smoking Tips
Strategies for Success – Week 1
The first week is often ‘make or break’ time when it comes to successful quitting. One of the main reasons people start smoking again is that they find the withdrawal symptoms so uncomfortable. Sudden bursts of intense desire or urge to smoke are often triggered by a cue as simple as having a cup of coffee or feeling stressed. To boost your chances of success, we’ve put together some of the best quit strategies and tactics that have worked and are working for other people. You don’t have to use them all, but we’re certain that you will find many of them helpful in supporting your efforts to quit.
This year why not consult with our trained staff who can advise on the best strategies to help you succeed. There are many different nicotine replacement therapies available, and our healthcare staff can recommend the most suitable for your needs.
Be accountable to others.
Publicly announce that you’re going to quit.
A simple, but effective strategy. People will keep asking how you are doing and reminding you of your commitment. This will help motivate you to keep going. You won’t want to let people down (you also don’t want the hassle of all those well-meant reminders!). Team up with a quit buddy. This is someone who will help you monitor your progress, hold you accountable, and support you through the tough moments. If you can, choose someone who’s also trying to quit so you can support each other through the emotions, cravings, and other challenges. It’s easier together!
Spot your excuses.
We’re all experts at coming up with excuses – it’s human nature. Even when we’re deeply committed to something, we look for reasons not to do it – just this once. With a little imagination we can find an excuse for every occasion, i.e. “I’ll join you outside, I need a break from my desk.” – Odd, isn’t it? Instead of fleeing temptation, we make seemingly harmless decisions that almost guarantee we’ll give in to temptation. The trick is to spot your excuse before you fall!
Tackling Withdrawals & Cravings – Week 2
Withdrawal symptoms are positive signs that your body is recovering from the harmful effects of smoking. They will start to fade like your body – and mind! – gets used to quitting. Here are a few common symptoms and what you can do to overcome them.
This is a normal part of the quitting process. You don’t need a reason to feel irritated, you just do. Don’t bottle it up – or blow it up. Say what’s on your mind calmly and courteously. Breathe slowly and deeply. Go for a walk. Talk with someone that supports you.
Smoking is highly addictive so cravings are common, especially in the first few days. Cravings typically last for 5 to 10 minutes. They may be extremely uncomfortable but try to wait them out and remind yourself that the feeling will pass. Start doing an activity, drink some water, brush your teeth. Tell yourself to wait for 30 minutes.
Ways to quit and help with cravings with Nicorette at McCauley:
Strengthen your Willpower – Week 3
Contrary to popular belief, willpower is not something we’re born with. Rather, it is a complex mind-body response that can be compromised by stress, sleep deprivation and poor nutrition. Boost your willpower by following these practices:
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Eat healthy food.
- Exercise regularly.
- Drink more water.
Set yourself up for Success – Week 4
The clearer you are about what you expect from yourself, the more likely you are to succeed in quitting. Think of ‘if…then’ scenarios to clarify how you will act in certain situations. For example, ‘If feeling tense, I will practice deep breathing.’ And if you’re at a loss as to what to do with your hands use a stress ball or start knitting. Now that you’re on your quitter journey it’s worthwhile switching things up for a while to avoid personal high-risk situations! We also tend to believe what we say about ourselves. Practice saying, “I don’t smoke”. In time, you will believe it. Using “I don’t” rather than “I can’t” says you’re in control of your actions and you’re acting by choice. This makes it easier to follow through!
Stumbling – Week 5
Oh dear, you’ve had a slip, and it feels as if all your hard work has been wasted. Be assured – you’re not alone! Most people stumble a few times before they quit for good. It’s part of the process. Of course, it would be better not to slip, but we’re all human. It’s not the end of the world. You have a choice now. You can use the slip as an excuse to keep smoking. Or you can try to figure out why you slipped and learn from the experience. What was the trigger that made you light up? Once you’ve identified it, plan to deal with it the next time.
Learn to manage Stress– Week 6
Some people think that smoking helps deal with stress when in fact, smoking causes stress. It creates a spike in your heart rate and blood pressure, which appears to relax you but all you are getting is a brief hit from a brain-reward chemical called dopamine, then the up-and-down pattern starts again.
Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help you deal with stress in a positive way:
- Try and develop a ‘can-do’ attitude.
- Focus on the here and now.
- Do things you enjoy.
- Get active and have fun.
Get a good night’s Sleep– Week 7
In the first few weeks after quitting, your sleep pattern may change. Cigarettes are a stimulant and withdrawal can leave you feeling drained, exhausted, and sleeping more than usual. If this happens, allow yourself plenty of rest to help your body get through the withdrawal phase.
Share your Goals– Week 8
Surround yourself with people who support you. What other people do, say, and think affects us. Sometimes, we even pick up their habits. So, when trying to quit, it’s helpful to be around people who support your decision to quit.
Appearance, Wellbeing & Health– Week 9
Getting started is often the easy part. Keeping it up that is difficult, no matter who you are, it’s worth reminding yourself of some of the benefits of quitting
- You will look better – with clearer skin and fewer lines. Any yellowing of your teeth will begin to fade.
- You will smell better – with fresher breath, hair and clothes. Your family, friends and coworkers will be delighted!
- You will feel better – with more energy than you’ve had in a long time, because your circulation will improve, which makes all physical activity easier.
- You will rediscover tastes and smells – you’ll be amazed at what you’ve been missing.
- You will have more control over your life – smoking won’t dictate what you do each day.
- You will start to reduce your risk of heart disease and most forms of cancer – it’s not just your lungs that are affected by smoking.
- If you are planning a family, it’s worth knowing that quitting cigarettes will increase your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby.
Financial Reward– Week 10
Being addicted to cigarettes is expensive so the savings can be significant. For instance, if you smoked a pack of cigarettes a day when you joined the quitters just 10 weeks ago, you will have saved €980 by the end of this week. ** Think what the savings would be in a year
** Calculation based on pack of 20 cigarettes, average price of pack €14.00.
Surf the Urge– Week 11
How to surf an urge:
Stop for a moment and think about the urge.
Where in your body do you feel it? People trying to quit smoking often experience the urge in their hands or mouth.
Notice what the sensation feels like.
It may be pressure, tingling, warmth, coolness, or something else. Be as specific as you can.
Now pay attention to your breath for the next couple of minutes.
Don’t try to change your breathing. You may find it helpful to say ‘breathe in’ as you inhale and ‘breathe out’ as you exhale.
Gently shift your attention back to your body.
Notice if and how the sensations change.
Imagine the sensations as a wave.
Watch the wave rise and fall as the intensity of the urge peaks and subsides. No matter how big the wave gets, you are a skillful surfer, and you will use your breath to ride each wave.
Looking Forward – Week 12
Sit for a few minutes and enjoy this moment. Think about your journey and dwell on the fact you’ve done something incredible! Write yourself a little note and tell yourself how proud you are. Now that you know what you can achieve, reflect, and think again: ‘What’s next?’. The stars are yours for the taking!