I was a smoker for many years and had tried many times to quit. It ended in failure until I decided to go about the job in a logical and methodical manner as I had realized what an immense task quitting the addiction really was – it worked extremely well (I haven’t smoked in over 20 years) and has worked for friends and acquaintances on many occasions since. So here we go!
– First of all you must decide that you do actually want to stop smoking. Most smokers actually do but won’t admit it – either to themselves or others. To get seriously into this frame of mind you must think hard every day about the damage being done to your body every time you light up, imagine the smoke going into your lungs and leaving a brown, sticky, poisonous residue that causes you to cough and produce sputum.
I once saw some diseased lungs in a glass case – this helped my imagination a lot. It was truly a disgusting and frightening sight! Additionally, think of the inconvenience of always having to ensure you have a cigarette supply, the cost, the resultant mess of ash, burnt clothing, smelly car upholstery – the list goes on!
Concentrate every day on these matters, particularly the health issues, several times. Especially last thing at night, every night, just before going to sleep. This must go on for quite some time – say a couple of weeks or longer. This is very important indeed, the most important part in fact.
– Tell your family and friends that you are intending to quit, but don’t set a date – you will know when the time is right if you carefully follow point one. Get them to be ready to support you – especially friends who smoke – ask them not to offer you cigarettes or smoke in your presence. Start to avoid places where smokers gather. Remove smoking paraphernalia from your home and workplace, get rid of all evidence of smoking. Get the car valeted.
– Look at the activities you associate with smoking – do you have a coffee first thing in the morning and immediately light up? Perhaps it is something else, but the truth of the matter is that you must also change that habit when going about quitting.
In my case a pint and a cigarette where inseparable – I changed the pint to another drink for a long time. Instead of coffee try freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice (a favorite of mine), you’d be surprised how awful a cigarette tastes when you drink this! The workplace is particularly hard for some smokers, change your routine. It is important that you don’t want to be reminded of cigarettes just because ‘that’s when I normally have one’.
– Eventually, you will feel the time has come to stop, it doesn’t need to be a big deal. By now your subconscious will have taken on board your desire to stop and the craving will be considerably reduced – believe me!
Be calm, don’t trumpet the fact that you’ve quit, just go about your day as if you are a non-smoker – which you now have become, permanently! There’s no gradual reduction, no nicotine patches – simply not necessary!
– Now you must immediately start on a new healthier lifestyle to really complete the process – this seals the bargain! Most smokers do not engage in physical exercise. They tend not to be as fastidious with their appearance and often eat sweet items (sugar in tea?) more than what is healthy for them, as well as put unnecessary additional salt in food.
This is a sort of compensation for the damage being done to their bodies by the internal pollution. I’m not saying you should start running marathons, but walk for 20 minutes, three times a week is absolutely fine – get out there and get some fresh air – even in cold or bad weather.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt and after a while you can’t do without it! Get some proper trainers, carry drinking water, and walk as briskly as you can without gasping for air. But 20 minutes is the magic number and three times a week – as you get better you will find it easier until you can perhaps jog a little and you will find yourself going a lot further.
Consider joining a group that does this sort of thing, for instance the Hash House Harriers or the Bahrain Road Runners, but it is much easier to do exercise with other people and a lot more fun. Walking and running is the most time-efficient method of helping your body get what it needs, it doesn’t take much preparation, can be done almost anywhere and is free. Swimming, cycling – anything that raises your heart rate is good.
Why? As your body has been damaged from years of smoking, it needs to recover, you need to feel better and exercise accelerates the benefits of quitting. You wake up feeling better, you get your sense of taste and smell back quicker and enjoy food more – sure you may put on a little weight – no problem, you can deal with this later, and in any case exercise will help reduce this problem.
Look at your food and try to include healthier items – fresh vegetables, salads, fruit – you can eat as much of these as you like and you will find you start to prefer them, don’t worry!
Stop sugar in tea and coffee and drink decaffeinated whenever possible, it’s not that bad but does help the quitting process. Drink plenty of water every day. You will start feeling a different person, it’s amazing how the body reacts to a little encouragement, freed from the incessant fight with the poisons you’ve been forcing into it, it responds dramatically. This also has huge positive effects on your mental state – you feel great in body and mind. After a short time your lungs will start to clear themselves out. It’s a pretty disgusting process, you will get a healthier complexion and your skin will firm up and then you will know that your efforts are paying off.
– Now reward yourself, get a new hairstyle, perhaps new clothes or glasses – but give yourself a makeover – this will show you every time you look in the mirror that you are a new person – healthier, happier with a longer life expectancy – a non-smoker once and for all!