Preparing to quit smoking
It’s difficult to give up. However, having a plan can make quitting a little easier. When you’re ready to quit, there are a few easy steps you can take to make your plan a reality.
Make a clear commitment to quitting
Set a date to quit. The first step towards quitting smoking is to decide when you’re going to be smokefree. Here are some pointers to consider when choosing your quit date:
- Allow yourself enough time to prepare. Preparing ahead of time can help you gain the confidence and skills you’ll need to stay smokefree.
- Don’t put it off any longer than necessary. Choosing a date that is too far in the future allows you to change your mind or become less motivated. Choose a date that is within the next week or two.
Understand why you’re quitting
It’s important to understand why you’re quitting before you actually do it. Do you want to improve your health? Save money? Keep your family safe? If you’re not sure, ask these questions:
- What is it about smoking that I dislike?
- When I smoke, what do I miss out on?
- What is the impact of smoking on my health?
- If I keep smoking, what will happen to me and my family?
- How will giving up change my life for the better?
Still unsure? Different people quit smoking for different reasons. Decide why you want to stop smoking, and this will help you get ready to quit.
Learn to manage your triggers and cravings
People, places, and certain activities that make you want to smoke are called ‘triggers‘. Knowing your smoking triggers can assist you in learning how to manage them.
Cravings are strong compulsions to smoke. Every craving is temporary, and if you have healthy ways to keep yourself busy, it can help them go away faster. Prepare ahead of time by making a list of things you can do if you get a craving, such as:
- Drink a tall glass of water
- Go for a walk or a jog
- Cook yourself something healthy
- Watch a TV show or movie
Find out what works best for you, and tackle your cravings quickly whenever they pop up.
Find ways to deal with nicotine withdrawal
You may feel a bit uncomfortable and crave a cigarette in the first few weeks after quitting.
Unpleasant symptoms associated with quitting smoking are known as ‘withdrawal‘. Smokers who quit, whether they do it cold turkey or with the help of medications, counselling, or other tools, can experience withdrawal.
During nicotine withdrawal, the body adjusts to no longer receiving nicotine from cigarettes. The worst withdrawal symptoms usually last a few days to a few weeks for most people. During that time, you may:
- Feel a little down
- Not be able to sleep well
- Become irritable, frustrated, or angry
- Feel jittery, anxious, or restless
- Struggle to think clearly
To alleviate these feelings, you may be tempted to smoke. Just keep in mind that they are only temporary, no matter how strong they appear to be at the time.
Look into your options for quitting smoking
It’s difficult to quit smoking on your own, but you don’t have to go cold turkey. As a matter of fact, you may be better off taking a different path. Here are some options for you to consider:
- Nicotine vaping products (NVPs). These are now available under prescription at most pharmacies, so have a chat with your GP or book a bulk-billed telehealth consult to see if NVPs may be suitable for you.
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). There are many NRT options available over the counter such as patches, gum, sprays, inhalers, and lozenges. Pharmacies and most supermarkets will have these available – no prescription required.
- Champix and Zyban. Available in pill format under prescription, these medications work by blocking the nicotine receptors in your brain so smoking is less enjoyable.
As of August 2021, production of Champix has been paused. Click here for more information.
- Quitline. Receive support from a trained counsellor to help you through your quit journey by calling 13 78 48 (8am – 8pm Mon – Fri).
- Alternative methods. There are a number of these available, including hypnotherapy and acupuncture. There is no clear evidence so far to show how much these kinds of methods will help you to quit smoking.
Remember: Everyone’s different, but anyone can quit. If one method doesn’t quite work for you it’s important not to get disheartened, just try another method. Stick with it until you find your solution.
Tell your friends and family you want to quit
When the people in your life support you, quitting smoking is a lot easier. Tell them you’re planning to quit and how they can assist you. Here are some pointers:
- Tell them why you’ve decided to quit
- Ask them to check in on you to see how things are going
- Ask them to help you think of things you can do together that don’t involve smoking
- If they smoke, ask them to quit with you, or at least not to smoke around you
- Ask them not to give you a cigarette, regardless of what you say or do
- Tell them that you might be cranky while you’re trying to quit
- Ask them to be patient and to help you through it.
Support is one of the keys to quitting successfully, and it may just make all the difference.
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