After you finally quit smoking, you realise that is the easy part. The difficult part is staying quit for good. You find yourself daily trying to juggle between your cravings and making sure you do not give in to temptations of smoking again. It is important that you know what to do in the days, weeks, months ahead after quitting. Here are five steps I have ready to help you on this :
1. When you quit smoking, you will see a lot of changes happening, in you, as well as in people around you. For yourself, you will need to plan for the following changes: moody, depressed, unmotivated, restless, unable to concentrate, feeling of something missing. They are normal feelings that ex-smokers go through once quitting and so you should not worry too much.
Another change you may notice are with the group or people you used to smoke with. You may think that you do not enjoy close relationships with friends and family members who smoke. Losing these personal friendships and closeness will cause some pain and sadness but that is temporary. Be aware of these possible changes upon quitting smoking so that you are ready for them.
2. Analyse the triggers that make you want to smoke again. One good idea is to keep a “journal” and write down the list of your triggers of smoking. For example, you may notice that when you are alone or free, that you crave for a cigarette. Or when you enter a pub for a drink, a cigarette comes to your mind instantly. Keep notes on these triggers, then create an action plan on how to avoid them as much as possible.
There are two types of actions plan you can do: physical and mental plans. Your list of physical actions plans might include the following when you want to smoke :
Do some exercise or take a walk outside
Eat your favourite food or drink your favourite soda
Go somewhere else instead of the triggers place
Telephone someone you love
Have a chat with a friend who is a smoker or ex-smoker
Take a bath or a shower
Your list of mental actions might be the following :
Think of someone you love or your family
Think of the work you have done so far in quitting smoking
Focus on a nagging problem you have besides wanting to smoke
Remember how proud you are of yourself that you have stopped
Focus your mind on all the benefits you are currently enjoying now after quitting (saving money, smell better, your partner likes you more)
Focus on the negative implications of smoking (smelly body, unhappy family, unhappy partner, dirty teeth, always feeling out of breath, cannot sleep)
Have these physical and mental responses ready when and where the temptation triggers occurs.
3. Sharing your feelings and experiences with family, friends and in group discussions. Talk about what you are going through, your struggles and problems you faced. Find someone who understand these issues and will support your efforts especially other ex-smokers or someone who is in the same situation as you now.
4. Go out and help someone else quit. When you help someone quit, you are more committed to stay quit, and it make you feel double good helping someone else to quit.
5. Reward yourself upon reaching milestones. Write down your milestones and rewards so you can remember them. For example:
7 days…my favourite food
21 days…buy a nice item
One month… nice dinner
Three months…buy another item
Six months… go for a short holiday
One year…go for a long holiday
Make sure to reward yourself generously upon reaching every milestones in the quit life. They are what you want for yourself and meaningful enough to stop the pull of cigarettes.
Most things in life that are precious need some effort on the part of the receiver. I hope these five steps will help you to stay smoke free for a very long time. Approach quitting smoking seriously and you will get the rewards you deserve. Please feel free to distribute this article around your family, friends and colleagues who want to quit smoking and are looking for ideas to a smoke free life.
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