We all have an ideal version of ourselves that we know we can easily achieve if we just stop procrastinating, list our goals, and actually follow through.
But discipline isn’t something easily learned or acquired by the average person, let alone someone trying to quit the incredibly hard-to-break habit of smoking.
Self-control is the ability to regulate everything in yourself to meet your daily milestones, all the way up to your life goals. It takes great effort to discipline and train our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours with new habits.
That effort doubles when you have to develop plans and take action to quit smoking for good.
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While the level of self-control needed to stop smoking is high, it makes the feat something to be very proud of, and it has many benefits once you start living a smokefree lifestyle.
In today’s post, let’s take a closer at the relationship between smoking cessation and self-control.
The Relationship Between Smoking and Self-Control
It’s a fact that many smokers recognise the dangers of smoking but still find it hard to stop. In some cases, lung cancer survivors still smoke cigarettes even after recognising it’s the primary cause of their life-threatening disease.
These situations demonstrate how highly addictive smoking is and the level of self-control a motivated smoker needs to resist the temptation.
While the effort needed to quit is great, it isn’t impossible. Many people who have been smokefree for a year or more attain self-control by acknowledging their failures while holding themselves responsible, instead of beating themselves up.
These successful quitters also set a clear quitting timeline that contains the goals they can easily achieve for a day, a month, or a year.
Studies have shown that trying to quit smoking and failing has a positive impact on a resilient and motivated smoker, meaning you can quickly develop self-control by just trying, failing, and trying once again.
It can help you ‘get in the groove’ and finally propel yourself further than your last quit attempt.
How Self-Control Manages Stress
Having a habit of being resilient and repeatedly trying despite any failed attempts gives you confidence – a key ingredient in having self-control.
Confidence helps you recover from your failed attempt and lets you quickly see the cause of failure and start on an effective solution. Confidence and self-control also let you manage stress better than before – and without cigarettes.
Ex-smokers who have stopped for more than a year fully trust themselves and see the effectiveness of their new and proven methods to manage anxiety from work and triggers through meditation, physical workouts, and other safe methods
Even if they’re tempted to smoke, people who successfully stop after a year or more easily recognise the problem and take responsibility without stomping on themselves, fully confident that they can stop smoking again for good.
The Benefit of Self-Control During Withdrawal
Self-control lets them resist the temptation to stop smoking better than others. At the very least, they would recognise they’re greatly tempted to smoke and think about the benefits of quitting smoking to realign their feelings.
An awareness of their condition also makes them consider asking for help from a GP, which is the most effective path to smoking cessation and finding relief for the growing pains of nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
How to Improve Self-Control
Improving self-control as you start your quit journey comes naturally. To improve it even further, here are some effective steps to help you.
Set Clear Goals
A goal is a great motivator that encourages you to develop the discipline necessary to achieve it. Your life goal isn’t just to enjoy the flavour and ‘highs’ you can get from a cigarette, right?
You probably want to be physically better upon retirement, travel the world, or build the business of your dreams. Set your goals and write how stopping smoking will help you achieve these goals.
For example, if you stop smoking, you can save a significant amount of money that’s typically enough to pay your children’s school fees or a down payment for a new car each year.
Build a Support System
You develop better confidence and self-control within a supportive environment. Having your family and friends not involve you in any smoking activity lets you focus on your quit journey.
They would even gently remind you about your goals and might even join you in forming new and productive habits to help you quit smoking.
Identify your smoking triggers and stay away from them for a while to keep temptations at bay. To improve your self-control, practice meditation and mindfulness, two effective methods of keeping your actions in check.
Starting new habits and fruitful hobbies also helps you avoid triggers and gain more focus and concentration on what you’re doing. Some months or a year after doing this repeatedly, you’ll have the confidence and self-control to resist the urge to smoke when exposed to your triggers.
Practice Delayed Gratification
Self-control starts by controlling your urges with an effective reward system. For example, after going through a month of withdrawal, you can give yourself something you’ve always wanted for a long time, regardless of its price and your need for it.
By delaying your gratification, you develop better self-control and give yourself a huge confidence boost that you can do anything if you set your mind to it.
Implement Self-Care Strategies
Lastly, take care of yourself. Too much control over yourself can be stressful and cause anxiety, so learn how to let go of anxiety and let loose safely and properly without cigarettes.
For instance, spend a weekend going to a beach or sightseeing in a destination you haven’t visited before.
Quitting With the Help of Experts
Now that you recognise the need for change and to quit smoking, you’re on your way to improving your control over your urges and yourself. To make it easier, work with experts – they can help you much better than anyone you know personally.
Work With GPs
Want a clear path to success? Work with a GP who has helped many successful people quit the habit for a year. They can create a customised smoking cessation plan with your needs in mind and prescribe the best tools to handle cravings and withdrawals.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) Products
These gums, lozenges, patches, and inhalers work best when you have a GP’s tailor-made smoking cessation plan in place. The small nicotine dose they introduce should greatly help you in the first few weeks of quitting.
Nicotine Vaping Products (NVPs)
GPs also recognise that not everyone finds NRT products effective for their respective needs, allowing them to prescribe NVPs sold only in pharmacies.
Here’s a bit more to know about pharmacy-sold NVPs. NVP products sold in pharmacies are made under stringent pharmaceutical standards on the manufacturing process and ingredients, are toxicologically assessed for inhalation, are locally insured, and are specifically designed to help you stop smoking.
The latest Cochrane Review found high-certainty evidence that NVPs are more effective than NRT in helping people stop smoking.
Stay away from illegal NVPs found under the counter in convenience stores and tobacconists, as these have poor manufacturing quality, questionable ingredients, and may be just as hazardous to your health as smoking, if not worse.
Self-control has a positive relationship with smoking cessation, and it can even help ex-smokers beyond their quit journey by improving their focus and pulling them away from any temptations in the future.
You’re probably reading this because you want to stop smoking and have more self-control. You’re in the right place to get started.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.