Sunday, February 27, 2011

What is your action plan immediately after you quit smoking?

Yes, you have done it! You quit! Was that easy? For some that was, for other that was not. Now comes even more important part of the project – to stay out of tobacco, no matter what. Will it be easy? For some, that will be, for other – that will be difficult. But you almost did it anyway, so you can complete the transition process successfully.

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What to do?

  • Develop a clean, fresh, nonsmoking environment around yourself - at work and at home. Buy yourself flowers - you may be surprised how much you can enjoy their scent now.
  • The first few days after you quit smoking, spend as much free time as possible in places where smoking isn't allowed, such as libraries, museums, theaters, department stores, and churches.
  • Drink large quantities of water and fruit juice (but avoid sodas that contain caffeine).
  • Try to avoid alcohol, coffee, and other beverages that you associate with cigarette smoking.
  • Strike up a conversation instead of a match for a cigarette.
  • If you miss the sensation of having a cigarette in your hand, play with something else - a pencil, a paper clip, a marble.
  • If you miss having something in your mouth, try toothpicks or a fake cigarette.
  • Reward yourself for quitting – buy yourself a nice gift, something you always wanted, something that will fill you with excitement, something that will keep your mind out of the dangerous topic.

Avoid temptation

  • Instead of smoking after meals, replace that moment with something such as a piece of fruit, a (healthy) dessert, a square of chocolate, or a stick of gum. Or just get up from the table and brush your teeth, or go for a walk.
  • If you always smoke while driving, listen to a particularly interesting radio program or your favorite music, or take public transportation for a while, if you can.
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  • Have always a bottle of water in your car, and drink as soon as you feel you would like to have a cigarette.
  • For the first 1-3 weeks, avoid situations you strongly associate with the pleasurable aspects of smoking, such as watching your favorite TV program, sitting in your favorite chair, or having a cocktail before dinner.
  • Until you're confident of your ability to stay off cigarettes, limit your socializing to healthful, outdoor activities or situations where smoking isn't allowed.
  • In your workplace, don’t take all your coffee breaks with smokers only, do something else instead, or find non-smokers to have your breaks with.
  • If you must be in a situation where you'll be tempted to smoke (such as a cocktail or dinner party), try to associate with the nonsmokers there.
  • Try to analyze cigarette ads to understand how they attempt to "sell" you on individual brands.

Find new habits

  • Change your habits to make smoking difficult, impossible, or unnecessary. For example, it's hard to smoke when you're swimming, jogging, or playing tennis or handball. When your desire for a cigarette is intense, wash your hands or the dishes, or try new recipes.
  • Do things that require you to use your hands. Try crossword puzzles, needlework, gardening, or household chores. Go bike riding; take the dog for a walk; give yourself a manicure; write letters.
  • Enjoy having a clean-mouth taste and maintain it by brushing your teeth frequently and using a mouthwash.
  • Stretch a lot.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Pay attention to your appearance. Look and feel sharp.
  • Try to find time for the activities that are the most meaningful, satisfying, and important to you.

When you get the crazies

  • Keep oral substitutes handy - try carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, celery, raisins, or sugarless gum instead of a cigarette.
  • Take 10 deep breaths and hold the last one while lighting a match. Exhale slowly and blow out the match. Pretend it's a cigarette and crush it out in an ashtray.
  • Take a shower or bath if possible.
  • Learn to relax quickly and deeply. Make yourself limp, visualize a soothing, pleasing situation, and get away from it all for a moment. Concentrate on that peaceful image and nothing else.
  • Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
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  • Never allow yourself to think that "one won't hurt" - it will.
  • Think why you decided to quit and if that were the health-related reasons, remember that within the first 20 minutes of quitting, the healing process begins. The benefits will continue to improve your health and quality of life for years.
  • For the first week or so of quitting, make entries into a log book to monitor your daily progress. Note the moments in your life when you crave a cigarette as these are your triggers to smoking. Are there certain people or environments that trigger your cravings? If you smoke, how does it make you feel? Jot down some other things you can do to feel the same way. Later, when you’re having a bad day, you’ll be able to look back at the comments you wrote in week one to get perspective on how far you’ve come.

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