Despite the fact that many years of research, doctor warnings, surgeon general warnings, negative press, personal loss and terrifying PSAs have made it quite clear that smoking is really bad for you, people are still lighting up and have a hard time getting their heads around how to break bad habits, such as smoking. Recent statistics show that over 42 million Americans still smoke on a regular basis.
Time to quit smoking
If you are one of those 42 million, then it’s time to make a change, and the good news is it’s never been easier to finally stamp out smoking habits. 40 years ago quitting seemed like an uphill battle with very few tools to help you navigate the path to Nicotine freedom. These days there are everything from support groups to gum to iPhone apps to help you kick your smoking habits for good.
So where do you start? First of all, you need to acknowledge that it won’t be easy. It will take hard work, discipline and at times, it will probably really suck. And that’s OK. That’s where the next step comes in: seek help. Could you quit smoking all on your own? Maybe. But you don’t need to. There are resources, tools, support systems and treatments to help you stay on track. Don’t underestimate the power of a little outside help.
The kind of help you want to quit smoking
Next, think about how you typically learn and respond best to challenges in your life. Do you work better in a group setting or are you more into one-on-one coaching? Do you like to be coddled or do you need tough love? All these factors will come into play when choosing how you are going to not just quit, but successfully quit smoking.
It can seem overwhelming, and quite honestly, it is. But to help you tackle this obstacle one puff at a time, here are some of the tools and resources that you want in your corner. Consider what might be best for you (and maybe a combination of all of them will be best, and that’s fine!) and don’t hesitate; this is your chance and your time to finally stamp out your smoking habit.
Whether you prefer an anonymous hotline, a personalized therapy session or a support group, spending time around other people who are going through the same struggle as you are is important. It will remind you that you aren’t alone, it will give you ideas and strength, it can empower you to make a change and it will distract you by focusing on the challenges others face dealing with a similar battle.
It’s 2015, and that smartphone that almost never leaves your hand is also one of your biggest assets when it comes to breaking this bad habit. Apps such as Quit It can do everything from track your progress (how many cigarettes you don’t smoke each day), showcase how much money you are saving when you aren’t buying cigarettes and remind you of the many healthy risks to smoking so you are basically bullied into stopping.
Nicotine Replacement Treatment
You’ve heard of the gums, the pills and the patches that vow to help you quit smoking. These are otherwise known as Nicotine Replacement (NR) tools. The theory is that they work by giving you the nicotine your body craves, so you don’t experience intense withdrawal symptoms and give up before you start. They have proven to be incredibly helpful for many smokers looking to quit because “these NR methods let cigarette addicts get their nic fix while slowly lowering their dose and getting away from the habit of putting a cigarette in their mouth.” As Psychology Today reports, according to Adi Jaffe, Ph.D. “the idea is to move addicts one step away from actual addictive behavior and allow them to adopt a healthier way of living.”
Last but certainly not least (and not the most subtle of the tactics), scary PSAs, commercials that demonstrate what happens to your body when you smoke and anecdotes from friends who have lost a loved one to smoking can actually motivate you through fear. Seeing what your smoking is doing not only to your health but also to your family and friends might light a fire under your butt to make a change.
And when all else fails, if you really want to know how to break bad habits, never forget why you are quitting in the first place. Or more specifically, never forget who you are fighting for as you embark on this journey to a healthier, smoke-free life. When times get really tough, focusing on the people who care about you and who you are fighting to live for just might get you through.