What do you know about stopping smoking?
Even if you've had a failure -- especially if you've had a failure! -- notice what you learned from the experience.
If you have tried to stop smoking before, take time to inventory what happened. What were your biggest temptations? Did you substitute another activity for the smoking that was equally damaging? What might you do differently next time?
Do you know why smoking is bad for you? If you don’t know, be sure to do a little research. Learn as much as you can about nicotine use and its effects on health. The Wisconsin Quit Line (877-270-7867), the Midwest Branch of the American Cancer Society (877-738-4050), the American Lung Association and other state and local health groups will provide you with lots of information. You can also find lots of information online that discusses the destructive effects of nicotine.
Learn how to soothe yourself. Many of us have developed a habit of smoking as a way to reduce stress. (Amazingly, it is the nicotine and the other chemicals in the smoke that actually stress our body further!) What ways do you use to soothe yourself and what other ways can you learn that are healthy and life-affirming, rather than hurtful to your health? What new ways are you willing to learn?
Imagine -- and practice -- behavior changes. Begin to observe what situations seem to prompt or accelerate your use of nicotine or where you have relapsed in the past. Some of these situations may be personal (after a meal, for instance) and some may be social (with your friends at the local bar). What behaviors might you substitute for these events? How might you reply when a friend asks you for a cigarette or when your favorite social group continues to smoke when you decide to stop?
Expect to deal with some uncomfortable feelings. You may feel angry, sad, lonely or hurt as you give up this “best friend.” Expect to grieve as you begin to say good-bye to the habit of using tobacco. Sometimes other feelings that the addiction has suppressed also may surface. You can learn to handle these feelings.
Identify what kind of support system you have or are willing to create. Do you have friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who support the fact that you want to quit? Are they willing to learn more about how they can effectively support you in quitting? If people in your social circle smoke -- including a spouse -- would they be willing to quit with you? What professionals are able to help?
Practice reaching out. Reaching out to talk and get options that don’t involve cigarettes will help during times of craving. You may also list supportive friends who are willing to take your calls when you are feeling a craving. Nicotine Anonymous has helped thousands to quit smoking and offers printed and other information. You can carry this information in your purse, wallet, calendar, address book or briefcase.
Find other resources to support you. Classes, groups, counselors, practitioners such as acupuncturists, naturopathic physicians and other resources can assist in the learning, stabilizing and changing process. Massage, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, deep breathing, exercise, meditation, counseling and other practices and resources will help immensely. You don’t have to do it alone.
Keep working at this goal. Even if you are not able to stop your tobacco use immediately, you are working at changing your life, one day at a time.