Monday, August 18, 2008

Planning Ahead to Quit Smoking

The average smoker smokes a pack a day and each of these 20 cigarette represents a different ritual. The first one in the morning might fit in with a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper. The one that you light up to start your car. The one you grab to answer the phone. The two that you smoke after getting into a fight with your spouse. the unexpected extra half a pack from partying with smoking friends.
When quitting, some of these cigarettes will just naturally fall away, while others will be more difficult to give up. Have you ever bought a new car and didn't smoke in it to preserve the new car smell? Didn't seem a hardship, did it? so you don't have to quit all 20 cigarettes when you quit, you just have to be prepared for the slippery area where you tell yourself, "I'm just going to have one." Because that one, will lead you back to all the rest.
If you're not ready to quit all of your cigarettes, start by breaking the different associations with your smoking. For the first week, don't smoke in your car, you'll get over it. The next week, don't smoke when using the phone. Each week break one more ritual until you're ready to stop all of them.
After you quit, most situations will be easy but there will be those moments that you haven't prepared for--those "out of the blue" cravings. Have an emergency plan for those times. who can you call that will support you? How can you change the way you think about the situation to feel better about not smoking? What can you do to get out of the slippery situation?
Individuals have told me about going to a party where "everyone" is smoking and they finally gave in and smoked a few.
I ask, "Why didn't you leave the party?"
"I didn't want to be rude."
"If you had a sudden case of diarrhea, would you stay? Or would you excuse yourself and go home?"
You don't have to announce to everyone that you're leaving because of being around the smoke, that would be rude. But a quitter needs to protect themselves from relapsing. So plan ahead for slippery areas and those "out of the blue" cravings. The better prepared you are, the more likely you will be successful.

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