When you look at this list your first reaction might be “What?!” Some of these tips may seem a bit unconventional or extreme, but please consider that quitting smoking is hard AF. There’s a reason people have so much trouble with it, so expect that the things you may have to do to quit may not be comfortable. These unconventional tips are there, not because they are easy, but because they work.
These tips are what worked for me, and have worked for me on multiple occasions, as I have fallen off the wagon a few times, which is pretty standard. I have tried patches, gum, and other methods, and found them to be ineffective and expensive for nothing.
Remember the goal here is not to do what I did, the goal is to get results. There are many ways to quit smoking, so do whatever works for you. Hopefully these tips will be as effective for you as they were for me.
If you don’t have a strong enough reason why you want to quit it will be very easy to rationalize picking up another cigarette. You need a reason so compelling to yourself that when faced with temptation you can stand strong saying “there’s no fu*king way I’m smoking anymore.”
“Cause I should” is one of the worse reasons, so if that’s all you’ve got you could have a real tough time with this goal. I’m looking for reasons like “so I can see my grand kids grow up,” “because I’ve been having weird chest pains and I’m afraid for my life,” and “this is not who I want to be.”
Identify as a Non-Smoker
I believe that the number one thing that makes it easier for me to quit smoking is how I identify. I noticed in many conversations I’ve had with other people who smoke was that most other people referred to themselves as “smokers” and I referred to myself as “someone smoking.” I saw myself as someone smoking “right now” as in it was temporary. Smoking for me was an act I was choosing to do, not a personality trait. Ask yourself if you identify as a smoker or as a non-smoker who’s smoking, and choose to be the latter.
Move Towards Something, Not Away From Something
When quitting smoking most people focus on how they will be losing something. They think they will miss the relief their smoke break gives them, or the nostalgic feeling of taking a puff. They think what am I going to do when I’m bored, tired, upset, stressed, or even hungry.
What works is focusing on what you will gain. How amazing will it be to feel like you can really breath, and not feel winded after one flight of stairs? How nice will it be to never have to need a cigarette, or strategize your nic fix around long meetings, airplane flights, or work hours? How much of a relief will it be to not feel the panic of forgetting your pack somewhere, or not having a lighter on you. Focus on the freedom you will have.
For myself I pictured a life where I would get up in the morning feeling energized, and had lemon water, a smoothie, and then went off to the gym or hot yoga. I dream of a life where I’m extremely healthy and I feel good. Quitting smoking was one important step in the process of making that life a reality.
In my experience I have had success by quitting cold turkey and toughing out the with-drawl which only last a few days. I found that when I tried cutting down, after a few days of less of the nicotine that my body wanted I would binge smoke and have to start all over. It was the smoking version of yo-yo dieting.
No Coffee While Detoxing
The other thing I had to do was also quit coffee cold turkey at the same time because coffee, like it is for most people, was my number one trigger. Every time I took my first sip of coffee I had instant and overwhelming cigarette cravings. However, after the first four days to a week you are beyond the worst part and coffee shouldn’t be a problem anymore. You might safely be able to start drinking coffee again at that point.
Short Water Fast to Detox Quickly
Quitting coffee can be even more painful that quitting smoking, but again it’s very temporary. I’ve experienced debilitating migraines and overwhelming nausea from quitting coffee that lasted about a day. One way of getting through withdraw faster and easier, for both coffee and smoking, was fasting for 2 to 4 days. Fasting helps your body expel the addictive substances out of your body faster, and makes it easier to sleep through your symptoms.
What I would suggest as the easiest way to detox like this if you work weekdays would be to quit smoking and coffee on a Friday, and fast in bed through the weekend drinking only water. Sleep though as much of the detox symptoms as possible. You should be over the worst part by Monday.
If you have any doubt that your decision to smoke is not always conscious, stand near a smoker and watch them as you take out your pack and put a cigarette in your mouth. See how long it takes them to do the same. Unless they just had one the likelihood of them joining you is quite high. That’s because they are being triggered.
A trigger is something that your mind associates with an act, feeling, or basically anything else. When you are addicted to smoking and you see a cigarette, a pack, a lighter, or anything else that reminds you of smoking you are triggered to crave a cigarette and act on that craving.
When quitting smoking, it’s best to eliminate as many triggers as possible. Get rid of any remaining smokes or packs. Hide the lighters and ashtrays. Anything that you associate with smoking has to be out of sight until you’re way in the clear.
Places, people, and your routine can also be triggers. If everyday at your coffee break you go outside to the designated smoking area to have a cig, that’s a huge trigger. The smell of second hand smoke is usually a huge trigger so stay away from other smokers. Try doing something completely different on your break, like staying inside and keeping yourself occupied with an adult coloring book, sudoku, or a journal. I would even avoid leaving the building and walking through any clouds of smoke for at least the first week.
The hardest times I’ve ever had with either quitting smoking, or staying a non-smoker were times when I was in an environment that bred smokers. Working at soul sucking jobs that made you feel like a cog in the machine, made smoking feel like your only relief. If there is nothing to do on your break but smoke you are likely to smoke just to avoid the boredom. If most people around you are smokers, not only will they influence you to rationalize smoking, and maybe trigger you, but it may be the best way to socialize and that’s a huge draw to fall off the wagon.
If you are in a situation where the environment makes it hard to quit your best decision is to find a way out of that environment. If you can’t leave you can still try to quit, it will just probably be harder and you will be more likely to fall off the wagon, but you can always get back on. Don’t let this, or anything, stop you. I’m only suggesting you make quitting smoking as easy as possible by taking certain steps.
Get non-smoker friends
When your friends smoke it can be harder to quit and it’s easy to get sucked back into it. If they are not also in the exact same place as you are mentally the will likely be a huge source of excuses and rationalizations. They may encourage you to procrastinate, my you tempted to cheat, or guilty to let them go on a smoke break alone. Try staying away from them during the detox process, and until you feel confident that you can resist the temptation.
Getting new non-smoker friends will do the opposite. They will make you feel weird and out of place if you smoke, so you are less likely to cheat. They will never offer you a cigarette to tempt you. They will never trigger you by flashing their pack, and they will distract you through cravings by doing non-smoking related activities.
Get Back On The Wagon
Not smoking is a life-long decision you have to keep making. You don’t just quit once and go on the rest of your life never craving a cigarette ever again. In fact, most people fall off the wagon multiple times, and that’s ok. Don’t get down on yourself if you’re one of us. Just try again.
Quitting smoking is one of the hardest addictions to break, but it’s totally doable if you really want it. It’s also 100% worth it no matter how uncomfortable the quitting process may be. Once you’re on the other side of withdraw it gets easier and easier and it will become crystal clear that you did something amazing for yourself and everyone who cares about you.