Stop Smoking Now Plan
It’s not easy to let go of something that’s been such an integral part of your life for so long. That little stick of tobacco has stuck with you through thick or thin, rain or shine, day or night. With minimal effort it has provided hours of comfort and activated the pleasure centers in your brain. No wonder the thought of quitting seems so daunting. Who wants to give up something that can temporarily make sadness, stress, and boredom evaporate into thin air? Just thinking about it can stop you in your tracks. But that’s exactly what’s needed. Stop for a moment and think about why smoking is in your life. What purpose does it serve? Step 1 - AwarenessThis is the first step in any change process. During the awareness stage your primary task will be to gather data (knowledge) which you''ll use to help you stop smoking now. The awareness stage is also where you''ll start to kindle the initial spark of motivation for giving up smoking. (Later, during the motivation stage, you''ll be working on keeping that motivation alive.) Whenever you plan any type of behavior change it''s very important to keep that change at the forefront of your conscious. It needs to be at the front of your thinking on a day-to-day basis so that you don''t slip back into the auto-pilot of established behaviors. However, it''s important that you phrase your thinking in a positive way. This is particularly true of quitting smoking. If your conscious mind is wrapped around negativity, you''ll have trouble getting off the starting line. Don''t think of it as "never having another cigarette." This will only activate your brain to rebel against giving up something that has been an integral part of your life for so long. As to the data gathering aspect here''s what you should do. The first part is fairly straight forward. Simply count the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. Write this figure down somewhere. It''s always a good idea to write things down when you start any type of behavior change program. Once you''ve recorded how many cigarettes you smoke each day, then start a list of events that trigger the urge for a cigarette. The most obvious examples are: after a meal, with coffee, with a beer or mixed drink, etc. Now list all the reason that you enjoy smoking. Finally, make note of any places where you are more inclined to smoke. Are there any places where you rarely smoke?After you''ve got your numbers down and listed all the situations and places that trigger your urge to smoke, make a list of the reasons why you want to stop smoking now. Concentrate on those that you truly believe to be a benefit to you; something that you can look forward to. Surprisingly enough, better health is not always a number one choice for a lot of people. That''s fine. Long term rewards may not be all that motivating for everyone. Don''t forget to calculate how much money you spend to support your habit. Be sure to look at the yearly figure. You''ll be shocked to see that you could be spending in excess of a couple thousand dollars a year just on cigarettes. Prioritize your list. Put the most motivating reasons for stopping smoking at the top of your list. Once you''ve gathered all your data, you''re ready for the next step.Step 2 - Goal SettingIn this section you''ll be writing (yes, more writing!) SMART goals. These are goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewardable and Time centered. If "cold turkey" is your method of choice, then writing your goal is relatively simple. If you plan to use a cessation aid, you might want to consider one of the non-nicotine supplements. You can start off with the specific statement, ''reduce the number of cigarettes smoked daily.'' Next add in a measurement component which is nothing more than noting the number of times you smoke now and the number times you will smoke at some point in the future. So your goal now looks something like this, ''reduce number of cigarettes smoked daily from (x number now) to 0 cigarettes.'' The attainable part of a SMART goal is a way of asking yourself whether the task you''ve set for yourself is something that you can readily do. Is it too tough? Is it too easy? If it''s too tough, then you can break the task down into mini-goals. Cold turkey is not for everyone. Yet, there are a good number of people who have quit smoking this way. Next, set up a reward system for reaching your goal. We''ll talk more about rewards in the final step, Motivation. Finally, add in a timeline to your goal statement and you''re ready for Step 3, Motivation. Fixing a timeline is another way to help you commit to your plan of action. Your final goal might look something like this: ''reduce number of cigarettes smoked daily from (x number now) to 0 cigarettes, starting on (a start date) and ending on (an end date).''If you prefer a more gradual approach to quitting smoking, you can use either nicotine replacement supplements, non-nicotine prescriptions or non-nicotine aids to assist you. It''s strongly recommended that you consider one of the non-nicotine supplements. Using a non-nicotine supplement has one huge advantage over nicotine replacement aids. You''re able to quickly rid your body of nicotine and start the healing process almost immediately. It really doesn''t take very long to rid the body of its dependence on nicotine. To begin a gradual approach to quitting smoking you''ll be using the data you gathered during Step 1 - Awareness, so have your notes handy. Gradually reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke until you finally quit altogether is recommended especially if you''ve tried before but are now smoking again. It allows you to gain confidence in your ability to end your smoking habit when you''re able to experience a few successes. There''s nothing like success to keep you motivated. No matter how you choose to gradually decrease the number of cigarettes you smoke, your ultimate goal is to be smoke free.Perhaps the easiest way to begin a gradual approach to quitting is to start looking at the ''when and where'' you smoke now and the start eliminating them from your smoking routine. For example, you can start by designating certain rooms in your home as non-smoking rooms. Eventually your whole house can be off limits and then your car and so on. If you smoke in your bedroom and bathroom, then start with these. Your goal might look something like, ''reduce number of cigarettes smoked daily from (number of times now) to (number of times), starting on (start date) and ending on (end date).'' You can continue to smoke in your home but just not in those two rooms. If you''re in one of those rooms and you want a cigarette, you need only go to another room to smoke but before you light up or before you even go to another room ask yourself this question, "Do I really need this cigarette?" If you''re answer is yes, then go to a room where you allow smoking and light up. The idea, of course, is to get you to start questioning your need for a cigarette. It''s also an excellent way of keeping your desire to quit in the forefront of your thinking. Allow yourself from 3 to 5 days before moving on to the next point of elimination. Each time you eliminate another situation where you allow yourself to smoke, add that to your goal statement and watch the number of cigarettes you smoke daily decline.Step 3 - MotivationMotivation is crucial to quitting smoking. Nicotine is addictive physically and even more so psychologically. The physical addiction can be overcome fairly quickly but it''s the psychological addiction that will most likely cause a derailment of your efforts to stop smoking. In any behavior change program, rewarding yourself for reaching your goals is often mentioned as the primary form of motivation but that simply isn''t enough when it comes to addiction. Yes, do reward yourself for reaching your goals but also learn to recognize the signs of psychological addiction when they appear. Our minds can be very wily when it comes to maintaining behaviors that have come to be associated with relieving stress, overcoming depression, boosting creativity, helping with problem solving, dealing with impatience, loneliness, sadness, etc. Even though we may be completely free of nicotine, the psychological dependence will linger on for a much longer time and will manifest itself in some of the most imaginative ways possible. An excellent source for learning how to overcome the psychological addiction to smoking can be found in Motivate Healthy Habits by Dr. R. Botelho. This book can help you understand the psychology of why we cling to unhealthy habits. It''s a good resource but not the only one on the market. You may have found others that you like. Just be wary of any that offer you an easy way to quit. There is no easy way. No matter which book you choose, the important thing is to learn how to recognize when your mind is undermining your efforts to bring about healthy habits.As you begin to recognize your own emotional resistance to change it''s also a good idea to have a backup plan for dealing with that resistance. Often, substituting a new behavior for the one you''re changing will help to refocus the resistance. The healthier the new behaviors are, the easier it is to refocus the resistance. For example, each time you have an urge to light up, take a walk outdoors if possible. While walking, concentrate on the benefits that walking is providing you. Enjoy the scenery as you take your walk. Drink some water instead of lighting a cigarette. Drinking more water is something that most of could do more of. Take a hot bath; give yourself a manicure, a facial, a pedicure. Eat some fruit that you''ve cut into small pieces. Take your time eating the fruit. Enjoy the flavor and texture of the fruit. The idea is to engage in behaviors that can benefit your health while you think of the health benefits you''re giving yourself.Another recommended way to help you keep your motivation going is to join with a friend who wants to stop smoking. It''s very helpful to have someone to talk with about how you''re progressing and any problems that arise along the way. If you don''t have a friend who wants to stop smoking with you, then join a chat group, forum or help group that is geared specifically to help smokers quit the habit. One other thing that you might want to do is to make a public announcement to your circle of friends and co-workers that you''re going to quit smoking. Not only are you publicly committing to an action but you''re also setting yourself up for needed support from people close to you.You might also want to consider writing about your experience. You can either do this privately by keeping a journal or publicly through articles, internet groups, local cigarette cessation groups, etc. The important thing to remember is that you''re not alone. More and more people are successfully kicking the nicotine habit, and they''re more than willing to help you do the same. Use this link to help you find local support groups.