It’s never too late to quit smoking and improve your overall health but giving up cigarettes is no easy task, especially for women.
When it comes to smoking cessation, ladies find the first day to be more difficult compared with men, and that can be a sign that they will be more likely to backslide later on, according to recent research published in the May 2022 issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors.
“Getting through the first day of quitting is really important,” says Aimee Richardson, a health coach and tobacco treatment specialist with Henry Ford Health. “Not only because that’s when you’ll experience the worst of the withdrawal symptoms, but also because getting through that first day will boost your confidence and resolve.”
Getting back on track means your skin and health will dramatically improve, you’ll spare your loved ones from secondhand smoke and save money in the long term.
Here are some recommended ways to increase your chances of successfully quitting smoking.
Giving up cigarettes for good
If you think that the overwhelming majority of adult smokers began smoking before age 18, being in your 50s might be a good time to stop for good.
Several studies have found evidence that when you smoke, you expose your body to a range of toxins, including formaldehyde, cyanide, and carbon monoxide. When toxic chemicals reach your lungs, they impact every organ in your body, including your skin. The internal damage that’s taking place is largely invisible. Changes to your skin are among the first, visible signs that smoking is causing you harm.
Of course, there is no best way to quit. Everyone has different patterns, habits, levels of addiction, and preferences. What works best for one person may have little impact on someone else. For this reason, there are several proven methods, not just one.
Being ready and wanting to quit is the most important step to beat your cravings.
Identify your triggers
Certain things can trigger nicotine cravings, so it’s best to identify these to work your way around them. Tobacco urges are likely to be strongest at parties or bars, or at times when you were feeling stressed or sipping coffee.
“Triggers can differ for each individual, so it’s best to come up with a plan that will work for you – recommend doctors at the Mayo Clinic-. Don’t set yourself up for a smoking relapse. If you usually smoked while you talked on the phone, for instance, keep a pen and paper nearby to keep busy with doodling rather than smoking “.
If you feel like you’re going to give in to your tobacco craving, tell yourself that you must first wait 10 more minutes. Then do something to distract yourself during that time. Chew on sugarless gum, try going to a public smoke-free zone and avoid having ‘just one‘.
Cutting down to quit
Unless you have been told by a health professional to quit smoking immediately due to health implications, going cold turkey isn’t always the most successful method of breaking an unhealthy habit.
Although it may work for some, habits are hard to break when practised every day, so if you are a daily smoker, the best thing for you to do may be to gradually reduce your intake per day.
Set yourself realistic targets; if you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, perhaps cut down by one cigarette each day, until you feel comfortable enough to stop. Combatting unhealthy habits is a marathon, not a sprint.
Remind yourself that each time you resist a tobacco craving, you’re one step closer to stopping tobacco use for good.
Move, move, move
Physical activity can help distract you from smoking. Even short amounts of exercise— such as running up and down the stairs a few times or getting out for a walk – can help. If you’re at home or in the office, try writing in a journal or doing chores for distraction, such as cleaning or filing papers.
Find a nicotine replacement
There are also several nicotine replacement therapies that come in various different forms, such as nicotine patches, gums, e-cigarettes, disposable vapes, and inhalers – all of which give you a hit of nicotine as a substitute for a cigarette helping you on the path to stopping.
Come up with a plan
A quitting smoking plan addresses both the short-term challenge of stopping smoking and the long-term challenge of preventing relapse. It should also be tailored to your specific needs and smoking habits.
A useful method is the STAR technique:
- Set a quit date
- Tell your family and friends about your plan and ask for their support
- Anticipate and plan for the challenges you’ll face while quitting
- Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work
Get a bespoke treatment
According to The Cleveland Clinic Tobacco Treatment Center, an individual plan is best for heavy smokers. In this case, a certified tobacco specialist will help you determine how dependent you are on nicotine, how ready you are to quit, and your preferred method.
The specialist will develop a treatment program specifically designed for you to give you the best chance of quitting successfully using a combination of medications, behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, yoga, visualization, massage or listening to calming music.
Read a good self-help book
Allen Carr’s “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” first book sold nine million copies worldwide; his method succeeds because it comprises no scare tactics, the disappearance of the psychological need to smoke as you read, and a feel-good association with being a non-smoker.
Filled with inspiring stories and quotes from real women who have battled nicotine addiction, his follow-up “The Easy Way for Women to Stop Smoking” addresses the unique difficulties females face when they decide to quit. Carr and Francesca Cesati focus on those issues of special concern to women, such as weight gain, menopause and increased stress, making this the perfect gift for any woman who lights up and wants to stop.
Are you ready to throw away that last pack?