No matter how you go about it, quitting cigarettes is tough. But it can (and, you know, probably should) be done — and there are a few ways to make quitting a bit easier or, at least, a little less sucky. And it's all in the preparation.
When you stop smoking, you'll have to go through a few days of nicotine withdrawal. That usually means symptoms such as irritability and insomnia, along with intense cravings. Unpleasant at best, but for most people, the worst of these symptoms only last for three or four days. Once you get through that, living your cigarette-free life will be much easier. Plus, you'll start reaping the benefits of not smoking as early as 20 minutes after your last cigarette.
So to give yourself the best chance of success, try these tips:
Talk it out: Enthusiasm and spontaneity are great, but this is one case in which it pays to plan ahead. The CDC suggests setting a quit date within the next few weeks rather than starting right this second. And use the time between now and then to talk to your doctor. She'll give you the lowdown on all the different ways to go about quitting — are you going cold turkey, taking advantage of nicotine replacement options, or enlisting the help of a coaching app? — and will set you up with resources such as quit lines and text services to keep you going. It's also a good idea to check in with your partner, family, friends, and maybe even your boss to set up the support system you'll need in advance.
Reflect: Take a moment to think about when and why you smoke, because those factors are most likely going to be your triggers when you quit, explains the Mayo Clinic. For instance, if you have a cigarette to get a chance to relax during the day, make a point to go for some quick walks around or outside the office instead. If a cigarette first thing in the morning wakes you up, try an invigorating yoga routine or an extra espresso shot. Or, if you like to smoke while you drink, try avoiding alcohol for the first few days.
This is also a great chance to concentrate on your reason for quitting. What is it that's finally convincing you to give it up? Focusing on that motivation will help you get through the tough times ahead.
Be nice to yourself: When you're quitting smoking, you're already fighting an uphill battle. That means now is probably not the best time to add even more battles to your schedule, so maybe wait until after you've made that big move to Brooklyn or successfully scored that promotion at work to take this step. Making good sleep, balanced meals, and staying hydrated your top priorities will make withdrawal symptoms more bearable. Also, the CDC suggests setting up a reward system for yourself: Celebrate your first day without a cigarette by going out to a movie with your partner, for instance. And then celebrate your first week, your first month, and beyond with rewards that remind you that you're sticking to your goals.
Everyone's path to giving up cigarettes is different, and there's no one formula that works across the board. And pretty much no one will tell you the process is easy. But having a plan in place will help you deal with the inevitable rough patches and get you through to the other side as painlessly as possible.