Steps to Quitting

If you aren’t ready to quit, you’re probably stuck in pre-contemplation.

You’re either not sure you have a problem or you might know you do, but fiercely defend your reasons. It’s unlikely you’ve experienced any severe consequences from smoking and you probably like it.

Negative consequences however, eventually have a way of sneaking up and affecting people engaging in addictive behaviours. Luckily this can move people towards a greater appreciation of the value of life, health and wellbeing, and can bring on the more welcomed contemplation stage. That’s where you start thinking about the pros and cons of changing addictive behaviours. You become more aware of the personal consequences and may begin to juggle risks and benefits. Otherwise known as the I’ll quit one day process.

Preparation is when you move from knowing you have to do something about your situation, to wanting too.

You’re more open to learning, researching and examining your habits and lifestyle, and accept you need to change your course of action to support your process of change. If that’s you, well done!

Prepare away. It’s time to work out all the stepping stones and strategies you might need to put in place. This stage of positive determination takes as long as it takes, because the more thorough you are in this stage, the better. This is when you prime your mind and body for success. 

Work out all the reasons you want to stop smoking.

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. 

On one half, write THE REASONS I SMOKE. WHY I WANT TO & WHY I LIKE IT.
On the other half write ALL THE REASONS I CAN THINK OF TO QUIT. 

Now you have a clear idea of what you might lose and what you might gain from quitting. Circle the most important reason, grab a journal and write that down on the very front page as a visual reminder.

For every benefit you find in smoking, find 2 or 3 alternative ways you can gain these feelings, satisfactions, or experiences.
 

Future proofing time. To avoid and reduce future smoking cues, work out what needs restructuring in your physical and social environment.

Take a really good look at all the aspects of your daily routine that you have come to strongly associate with having a cigarette. List everyone and everything that revolves around smoking.

For instance do you smoke - as soon as you wake up, when you have a coffee, after eating, during a break, while driving, when you drink alcohol, hanging out with friends, taking time out for yourself, relaxing or rewarding yourself? 

Think about your social relationships and what kind of changes might need to be made. 
Consider how others might behave when you won’t be joining them in smoking anymore, and how you might respond.

You mightn't be able to completely wiggle out of all of these situations, but understanding your triggers and having a plan to overcome them is a good behavioural approach and a real key to success. If you need to avoid a situation or substitute one behaviour with another until you feel more confident in getting through Smokefree, that’s totally fine, too.

Consider being open to a mindfulness based approach. Self awareness, new coping skills and making changes to your environment, all make it easier to manage life without smoking.

Get curious about why smoking is often the first thing you want to reach for to fix almost anything. Like when you’re stressed, angry, hungry, lonely or bored. Get super curious about your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Know that you have the capacity to change. The trick is to swap out your addiction by finding alternative sources of satisfaction in the everyday experiences of life.

Put aside any judgement and begin to take notice of the sensations that occur in your body when you have an urge for a cigarette. 
Notice what you’re thinking.  
Notice what you’re feeling.
What might you be hoping to get from reaching for a cigarette? 
What role might the cigarette be serving in your life?
Write your findings in your journal.
Hopefully you’ll discover patterns and know if your desire to smoke is to provide positive sensations or to drown out negative ones. In cognitive behavioural therapy we say if you CATCH IT & CHECK IT, YOU CAN CHANGE IT.

Yay for being brave and courageous. Get ready to action change. You can do this! Keep maximising your motivation. Go ahead and choose a quit date in the very near future.

If you're choosing to vape as a pathway to quitting, this is the time to learn all you can about this method. If you find you come up against opposition you can always direct others to the informative website commissioned by the Ministry of Health (vapingfacts.health.nz) so you don’t have to justify and defend your choice. This step can also highlight possible challenges. People may or may not support your choice. Keep finding a positive way through and join up for likeminded support. 

It’s time to tell everyone that you are quitting. If you know what they can do to support you, this is the time to ask them. Declare all your spaces Smokefree, so you don’t allow other people to use or bring reminders of smoking into your space. Put up signs and stickers if you have to.

Get rid of all tobacco products and reminders of smoking from your home, car, workplaces, and carry bags. Cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, papers, lighters and any 'just in case' cigarettes. Air everything out. Freshen up your clothes and clean your furnishings. Remind yourself while you do all this hard work, that just one cigarette reduces your lifespan by 11 minutes, takes your body 6-8 hours to process the toxins, and the thousands of chemicals, 20 of which may cause cancer, will be fantastic to let go of.

When a person stops using nicotine quickly, they may disrupt the chemical balance and experience physical and psychological side effects, such as cravings and low mood.

If you're choosing to vape as a pathway to quitting, we recommend you seek expert advice from a specialist vape retailer about options of nicotine, what strength to begin with, how to gradually reduce the level until you can quit altogether or you might choose 0% nicotine and get specific nicotine withdrawal help. 

Either way, action your quit date and stay as far away from stressful situations for your first day as possible. The amount of discomfort you'll face depends in part on two things. Whether you're choosing to vape as a pathway to quitting with nicotine, and how well you take care of yourself as your body works hard to expel toxins during the withdrawal process. So eat well, snack healthily, take walks, drink lots of water, rest and read. Avoid conflict.

Especially in the first few weeks, follow your well thought out action plan. Remember, if in doubt AVOID. Separate yourself from anyone who encourages you to smoke. Limit or avoid being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, because that’s when bad decisions can seem a whole lot better. Have it be ok to DISTRACT yourself. Instead of giving in to an urge to smoke, come up with ALTERNATIVE ACTIVITIES, such as going for a walk or calling a friend or family member to talk, so that you keep busy until the urge passes. If you’re choosing to vape as a pathway to quitting, keep it with you, use it as recommended by the experts, charge it, so you get to accept it as your new normal.

If cravings are a problem, either curb them by delaying, deep breathing, drinking water or doing something to distract yourself. If you’re taking the mindfulness route, relax into your quit. Visualise the cravings rolling over you in waves. Understand that these cravings are an indication of your body re-adjusting and healing itself.

No matter which step you are in, to maintain change, keep anticipating challenges and solving future problems. Avoid temptations. Take good care of yourself. Practise patience. Trust that new behaviours will become second nature in time. Stay on target. Reward yourself.

Keep learning and making specific behavioural changes. We will have upcoming blogs that may help with all kinds of communication and coping skills and tips for slips so be sure to sign up to receive them.

Remember you can always alter a situation to make it less stressful. Keep gathering helpful information, and adapt and deliver new ways of communicating that get you better results. Know that if you get stuck, that’s when you may need to reach out and get counselling for solving high risk situations and challenges.

You’ve got this. You can do this! Keep maximising your motivation. What you're doing is worthwhile and meaningful. Be proud of yourself. Remind yourself how well you’re doing, how much money you’re saving and when you wake up each new morning, think of how much easier it is to breathe since you quit. 

Kia Kaha. Stay Strong.

 

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