Top Tips to Quit: How to Stop Smoking
While things like alcohol come with recommended daily amounts, smoking doesn’t. In fact, the recommended daily amount of cigarettes is none at all, and for good reason. The benefits of quitting smoking outweigh the cons.
Every year, around 100,000 people die from smoking-related causes, as the pastime increases the risk of developing over 50 serious health conditions. It can cause lung, mouth, throat and stomach cancer, as well as increase your risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Quitting isn’t impossible though, and there are certain methods you can use to make sure that your journey to a smoke-free life is as effective as possible. We have created a guide which offers solutions that may help to quit smoking and support in overcoming a smoking habit. Follow our steps for easy ways you can stop smoking, starting today.
Make a 'stop smoking' plan
Planning your smoke-free journey is a great way to keep yourself on track.
First, decide on which method is best for you and benefit you the most on your journey to stop smoking – cutting down gradually and making small lifestyle changes, or going cold turkey. Each one will require a slightly different approach. Next, make your physical plan. List a realistic ‘quit-by’ date and plot milestones to help you get there.
A positive mindset can go a long way in helping you to overcome obstacles and rise above relapses when trying to quit smoking. The key is not to get discouraged, to try again, and to face the coming weeks with even more determination. At the beginning celebrate each quit day and if that seems too challenging, celebrate each hour of quitting. Reward yourself with a nice walk, bubble bath or some time spent with a loved one.
Identify why you crave
Once you know what triggers you to reach for the cigarette packet, you can develop coping mechanisms and alternative ways to deal with each one.
For example, if you like to smoke after finishing a meal, try chewing a piece of chewing gum instead. If you find stress and anxiety to be a trigger, try listening to relaxing music, doing yoga or getting a massage.
Write a list of benefits of stopping smoking
The benefits of stopping smoking are no secret – more energy, healthier skin and a hugely reduced risk of premature death due to serious illness. By writing a list of pros and cons, you can carry them around with you and look at them every time you feel as if you might relapse.
Be aware of nicotine withdrawal symptoms
Nicotine withdrawal isn’t just craving your morning cigarette. It is actually categorised by a range of physical symptoms that are important to recognise:
Irritability, frustration or anger
Anxiety or nervousness
Constipation or an upset stomach
Decreased heart rate
If you find that you start experiencing some of these symptoms as you become smoke-free, a great way to take your mind off them is to exercise. Scientific studies have proven that even a short, five-minute walk can encourage your brain to produce anti-craving chemicals, which in turn could help fight the withdrawals of stopping smoking.
Remember over the counter nicotine replacement products can support the nicotine withdrawal. However, don't underestimate the psychological addiction, as this can also replicate some of those nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Tell people you decided to quit smoking
The support of your loved ones can prove invaluable when you are trying to quit smoking. Once they know what you are trying to do, they can help you to avoid situations that could trigger cravings, help support you through withdrawal symptoms and, if they smoke too, even quit with you.
Reward yourself every time you stop smoking
If you got a pay rise at work or even just completed a DIY project at home, chances are that you’d reward yourself in some way. The same should go for when you reach a milestone in your efforts to stop smoking, to give yourself something to look forward to and encourage yourself to carry on.
Take advantage of NHS Stop Smoking & other services available
Everyone is different, and while one person might be able to stop smoking on their own, others will need help. If you find that you are struggling then you shouldn’t be afraid to seek it out, especially when there are so many services available to smokers.
Though willpower is important to help overcome nicotine cravings, there are many nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) available that can help. These are available over the counter or you may get them prescribed by a GP or The NHS Stop Smoking Service.
The NHS Stop Smoking Service is particularly useful, offering face to face support, free email and text support, and a free quit kit full of practical tools and advice developed with help from experts, smokers and ex-smokers.
About our healthcare
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Medically reviewed by Llinos Connolly in June 2023. Next review date: June 2024.