Tips to 'stub out' your smoking habit
It is never too late to stop smoking.
Smokers who eventually quit do so, on average, on their third or fourth attempt. In this week's article, Dr Michelle Cooper encourages those who intend to bite the bullet and embrace a healthier lifestyle.
There are certain highly beneficial steps you can take before ceasing smoking:
- Write a list of the reasons why you wish to stop. Keep it with you for when temptation strikes.
- Set a date for stopping and stop completely. Research shows that those smoking fewer cigarettes than normal are likely to smoke more of each cigarette, with nicotine levels remaining largely the same. Therefore, it is better to stop entirely from a pre-set date.
- Tell everyone you are quitting, so friends and family can give you their support.
- A 'team effort' is better than going it alone.
- Dispose of all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters.
- Avoid situations where you will crave a cigarette. Drinking alcohol may spark a desire to smoke and so, it is often helpful to limit going out for a drink for the first few weeks of smoking cessation. Also, if drinking tea and coffee result in cravings, try drinking fruit juice and plenty of water instead.
WHAT TO EXPECT
It is important to be prepared for common symptoms associated with smoking cessation.
- Withdrawal symptoms may include nausea, headaches, anxiety, irritability and cravings, which are caused by lack of nicotine. These symptoms tend to peak after 12 to 24-hours and then gradually ease over a period of two to four weeks.
- Anticipate a cough. It is normal for a 'smokers cough' to become aggravated after quitting. This is because the airways come back to life. Many people report that this cough makes them feel worse and results in a temptation to restart smoking. This should be avoided as the cough usually eases.
The following additional points are vital to success when quitting smoking:
- Take one day at a time. Mark off each successful day on a calendar. Look at it when you feel tempted to smoke, and tell yourself you don't want to start all over again.
- Be positive. Tell friends and family that you no longer smoke. You will feel better, smell better, enjoy your food more and cough less after a few weeks. Also, focus on the money you are saving!
- Food. Those quitting can have an increased appetite following smoking cessation. It is important to have plenty of sugar-free snacks, gum and fruit readily available at home. This will make it easier to snack on healthy treats and avoid eating fatty or sugary foods when hungry.
- Don't despair if you fail. Examine the reasons why you felt you needed a cigarette if you fall off the wagon. This will make you stronger next time around!
Several medications can increase your chance of quitting. Nicotine replacement products are available in the form of gum, sprays, patches, tablets, lozenges and inhalers and these are available without a prescription. Prescription medications, such as bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Champix), are also effective in the battle against smoking.
Support, advice and information can be obtained from the website www.quit.ie Good luck!