We all know the health risks of smoking, and most of us know that kicking the habit is the single biggest improvement to health a smoker can make. But that doesn’t make it any easier to kick the habit. Whether you’re a teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be tough.
To increase your chances of success, you need to be motivated, have social support, an understanding of what to expect, and a personal game plan. It is possible to learn how to replace your smoking habits, manage your cravings, and join the millions of people who have kicked the habit for good.
Why quitting can seem so hard
Smoking tobacco is both a psychological habit and a physical addiction. The act of smoking is ingrained as a daily ritual and, at the same time, the nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary, and addictive, high. Eliminating that regular fix of nicotine will cause your body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. To successfully quit smoking, you’ll need to address both the habit and the addiction by changing your behavior and dealing with nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Relieving unpleasant and overwhelming feelings without cigarettes
Managing unpleasant feelings such as stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety are some of the most common reasons why adults smoke. When you have a bad day, it can seem like your cigarettes are your only friend. Smoking can temporarily make feelings such as sadness, stress, anxiety, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air. As much comfort as cigarettes provide, though, it’s important to remember that there are healthier (and more effective) ways to keep unpleasant feelings in check. These may include exercising, meditating, using sensory relaxation strategies, and practicing simple breathing exercises.
For many people, an important aspect of quitting smoking is to find alternate ways to handle these difficult feelings without smoking. Even when cigarettes are no longer a part of your life, the painful and unpleasant feelings that may have prompted you to smoke in the past will still remain. So, it’s worth spending some time thinking about the different ways you intend to deal with stressful situations and the daily irritations that would normally have you reaching for a cigarette.