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Stop Smoking Plan

Updated on February 17, 2008

Stop Smoking

For most of us, the idea of putting away our cigarettes once and for all is wonderful, until we're faced with the moment of truth. Then the excuses start rolling. Well, I'll wait until the weekend when I don't have the stress of work to worry about. Or ... just one more day, it won't make any difference. Or ... just one more cigarette, what difference can one little cigarette make? Or ... just until I finish the last carton, after that, it's over, no more smoking.

We've all been there, done that.

Even if you intend to use a patch, or try hypnotism to quit smoking, or try a natural stop smoking product, there's still that last little urge to hold onto your cigarettes a little longer. After all, once it's done you can't go back, can you? And isn't there a part of you that secretly wants to be able to light up every once in awhile? Not all the time, mind you, just on special occasions and such?

So, what do you do?

You take small steps, each one leading you closer to your goal of giving up smoking.

"Fine," you say, "But what's the first step?"

It's the easy step: don't buy any more cigarettes. You don't have to toss out the cigarettes you've already purchased (at least not yet), but you can't add to your stash. It is what it is, and you have to live with it. No more buying cigarettes.

That wasn't so bad, was it?

Believe it or not, step two is almost as easy. Here it is: set your quit smoking date. Whether it's next weekend, in two weeks, or at the end of the month ... it doesn't matter. Just pick a date to be the last day you'll ever smoke again. Don't forget, you can't buy any more cigarettes between now and then.

It doesn't matter if you've decided to go cold turkey or if you've decided to use a quit smoking aid, such as a patch or hypnotism or a combination, you need to set your quit smoking date. The first few days of the process are the most difficult, that's why we're building up to them. Once you make it beyond the worst days, everything will be much easier for you.

Only A Few More Steps

Step Three: Establish Your Support Structure

Now, we're getting serious. In this step, you want to set things up to help make the process as painless as possible. For instance, if you're going to use an aid, determine what that aid will be and make arrangements to have it in hand. Consult with your doctor if need be, or make an appointment with a hypnotist, or order your patches or your quit smoking kit from the Internet. No more putting it off.

Announce your decision to quit smoking to those who will be affected: your family, your friends, the people you normally smoke with during lunch at work, anyone and everyone who you can use as an ally. Share your official quit smoking date with them. Tell them what you have in mind, and ask them for their help.

In addition, put together a list of activities to help occupy your thoughts and time the first three days after you quit. Maybe a trip out of town. Maybe a day at a national park. Maybe a day with the kids at the zoo. Plan activities that will keep you busy, that will keep you away from other smokers, and that wouldn't normally involve you turning to a cigarette.

Step Four: Make Your Home A Smoke-Free Environment

Believe it or not, once you quit smoking, you're going to absolutely hate being around the smell of cigarette smoke. In fact, you'll probably be more sensitive to it than someone who's always been a non-smoker. So in this step, you're going to turn your home into the home of a non-smoker.

Start with the little things ... toss out any remaining cigarettes you have (you can keep enough to get you through the day and no more). Clean out all the ashtrays and either store them or give them away. If the weather permits, open up the windows and doors and air everything out. Wash your clothes. All of them. Wash your linens. Have a cleaning company come in and clean your carpets and drapes. Then burn some scented candles.

You want to rid your home of everything that looks, smells, or even reminds you of smoking. If you need to smoke on this important day, go outside or take a walk while you smoke. Just take it away from the house. By the way, you should also clean up your work environment as well.

This is usually the last step before your quitting day. It's important for your mindset. It's important for making it through the toughest days, which will start tomorrow. Don't skip this one.

Step Five: Taking The Plunge

The big day. If you're using a form of nicotine replacement, then it should help enormously with your cravings. However, it won't help with your long-established behavior patterns. So as much as possible, you want to keep yourself away from those situations that have always revolved around smoking ... lunch breaks with other smokers, a trip to the bar after work, coffee and cigarettes with a friend.

Keep yourself busy. Spend lunch taking a walk, or hanging out at a bookstore, or running errands. After work, take the kids to the park to play, repaint that bedroom wall that's long overdue for attention, help a friend move furniture ... anything that will keep you occupied. If you made plans as I suggested in Step Three, do them!

Carry a pack of sugarless gum with you to help substitute for your natural inclination to reach for a cigarette throughout the day. Drink plenty of water. Limit your caffeine; it can encourage your cravings and dehydrate your body. Limit your candy; it raises your sugar level and encourages your cravings.

Don't hesitate to turn to those around you for help if you feel the need. That's why you announced your plans to them, so they could help with the process. Call you spouse for some encouraging words or maybe a spur-of-the-moment outing. Ask a friend what he or she did when the cravings got to be more than they thought they could handle.

Remember: this will be the most difficult day. Everyday after your quitting day will be a little easier than the day before. Keep busy. Keep yourself away from situations that would normally foster smoking. Keep in mind that it only takes a few days to make the transition from smoker to non-smoker. Just a few days.

Good luck!

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