You've made up your mind that you want to quit smoking. You might be nervous or not sure you can quit.
But try to focus on the fact that you want to quit—whether it's your first time or tenth time. And focus on creating your plan to quit. A quit plan can help you deal with your feelings now and ones that may come later.
Having a plan may help your chances of staying tobacco-free.
- Name your reason for quitting.
Knowing why you want to quit can help you stay motivated. Do you hope to be more active, to look and feel better, or to lower your chances of a long-term disease? Whatever the reason, it's your reason, and so it's the most important.
- Find all the resources you can to help you quit.
You might think about talking to your doctor and insurance provider to see what your treatment might be and if your insurance covers it.
- Review your past attempts to quit.
If you have tried to quit in the past, review those past attempts. Think of the three most important things that helped in those attempts, and plan to use those strategies again this time. Think of things that kept you from succeeding, and plan ways to deal with or avoid them. Write this down as a plan.
- Set your goals.
To achieve a long-term goal like quitting smoking, you may find it helpful to break the task into smaller goals. Every time you reach a goal, you feel a sense of pride along the path to becoming tobacco-free.
- Set your goals clearly.
Write down your goals, or tell someone what you are trying to do. It's important to include "by when" or "how long" as well as "what." For example: "I will track my smoking for 1 week, starting tomorrow." Or "I will cut back from 20 cigarettes a day to 15 by this time next week."
- Pace yourself.
You may want or need to quit slowly by reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke each day over the course of several weeks.
- Be realistic.
Be sure to set realistic goals—including a timeline for quitting—that you can meet. For example, your goal could be to cut back from 20 cigarettes a day to 10.
- Set your quit date.
When is a good day to stop smoking? Pick a time when you don't have a lot of stress or change.
- Change your surroundings and routines.
- Throw out all your cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters.
- Get rid of the smell of smoke and other reminders of smoking by cleaning your clothes and your house, including curtains, upholstery, and walls.
- Don't let people smoke in your home.
- Take the lighter out of your car.
- Change your daily routine. Take a different route to work, or eat a meal in a different place. Every day, do something that you enjoy.
- Be aware of smoking cues and plan how you'll avoid them.
Cues are things that remind you of smoking. You'll want to avoid or stay away from them. You may already know your cues. The most common ones include:
- Being with friends who smoke.
- Smelling coffee.
- Drinking alcohol.
- Prepare for emotions and cravings.
Withdrawing from nicotine can make you feel stressed, upset, or cranky. Here are some ideas:
- Tell yourself that these emotions are uncomfortable, but they will pass.
- Identify and think about ways you can avoid those things that make you reach for a cigarette (smoking triggers), at least at first. Try to change your smoking habits and rituals. Think about situations in which you will be at greatest risk for smoking.
- Plan for ways to handle a strong urge to smoke. You might try exercising, walking your dog, or calling or texting a friend.
- Start a hobby or activity.
- Cut down on stress. Calm yourself or release tension by reading a book, taking a hot bath, or digging in your garden.
- Decide about medicine.
Think ahead about whether you want to take medicine to help you quit. Using medicines and nicotine replacement products can double your chances of quitting smoking. They can relieve nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
- Find support.
You may have spent good times with friends or family while smoking. After you stop, you may feel like you're losing those connections and that quitting isn't worth it.
In your plan, include those people who can support you. They are friends or family who will tell you to keep going or trying. They will help you deal with stress and bad moods. And they will join you to celebrate when you reach your goals.
- Be prepared for relapse.
Most people are not successful the first few times they try to quit smoking. If you start smoking again, don't feel bad about yourself. A slip or relapse is just a sign that you need to change your approach to quitting.
- Celebrate your successes.
You may have days when you wonder whether quitting is a good idea. Celebrations are reminders that can help when negative thoughts creep back.
In your quit plan, you'll want to include ways to remember and celebrate what you've done. You'll remind yourself why you wanted to quit and make quitting seem doable again.
Current as of: March 3, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine