It can be difficult to avoid the March-time lull. All those January promises and New Year's resolutions have long been forgotten and a tough Winter has left us looking forward to an indulgent Easter break. Achieve the right mindset, however, and this month could be the perfect time to set the record straight and kick the smoking habit for good.
Wednesday 11th March is official "No Smoking Day" and for us it presents an opportunity to encourage you to set those important health goals and reach them once and for all.
No Smoking Day is the perfect time to quit primarily because millions of people will be quitting together – being a part of this community is the ideal environment for giving up because you will be aware that you are not alone!
Since No Smoking Day was launched 20 years ago, it is estimated that over 1.5 million people have quit smoking for good. And with the right direction, you could help add to that total. While an awareness day such as this is important, it is a sustained commitment to quitting that can really make the difference - and none more so than that very first week without nicotine.
In this blog, we set out a handy seven day step-by-step guide to help you on your way.
Day 1 – Identify why you’re quitting and set yourself some achievable goals
It is important to understand that everyone chooses to quit smoking for their own specific reasons. These may include getting healthy and fit or saving money, but it is important to identify the exact reasons why you have chosen to quit. Make a note of this reason or multiple reasons and make sure they’re personal and relevant to your life. Looking back on these will certainly help you later on when you’re feeling inevitable feelings of weakness and will act as an excellent form of motivation to continue.
Quitting will be extremely difficult without any concrete goals to aim for and work towards. You can start by making you first goal to reach the end of this week! A successful plan should include frequent short term goals which you should reward yourself for achieving. For example, daily targets and monthly goals can help you take each challenge as it comes.
Statistically, you are five times more likely to quit for good if you achieve 28 days. This is because withdrawal symptoms can occur for up to 28 days after giving up. These can include cravings, irritability and impatience, insomnia, fatigue, lack of concentration, hunger, cold-like symptoms and constipation. It is important to be prepared for encountering these symptoms and plan methods of relief. While they can be extremely difficult, overcoming this period of withdrawal is a sure fire way to ensure you quit smoking for good.
Day 2 – Tell friends and family and remove all temptation
Perhaps the most important step for ensuring you give up smoking for good is establishing a good support system. Today you must make sure that you inform both your family and your friends that you are quitting. This will allow them to offer support for the emotional struggles you will encounter as well as helping you out practically by making sure there are no forms of temptation lying in your path.
Which leads onto the second aim for the day, making sure you remove any packets of cigarettes or forms of temptation from your life, including at home, work and in your car. Make sure you throw away all of your cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays and matches to remove any reminders of your habit. It may also help to do a spring clean and attempt to remove any smoking odours which could encourage cravings.
Day 3 – Come up with some distraction techniques for your cravings
It is important to stay positive today and remember this is just the start of a much better quality of life. Despite these positive thoughts it is inevitable that you will experience cravings today and you may find it helpful to begin developing some distraction techniques for navigating past these cravings.
A craving usually has a life-span of around five minutes, so creating five-minute strategies of distraction is an excellent place to start. This can include going for a walk, getting up to make a cup of tea or doing a crossword (or a Sudoku if you’re into maths).
Day 4 – Start a diary
Day 4 of the quitting process is an important milestone. Getting through today sets you firmly on the path towards quitting for good. Today will come with more cravings and perhaps other withdrawal symptoms manifesting themselves. It may be a helpful exercise to start keeping a diary of your progress, documenting your experiences such as information about your cravings (when they happened and how long did they last) as well as making a note of your achievements (how you managed to overcome your cravings) and your feelings.
This diary offers your experience of quitting a concrete feeling, making it more real, and therefore something which can be achieved. It will also serve as a source of encouragement in moments of weakness; remembering what you have achieved will help you stay on track.
Day 5 – Try exercising
Exercising is one of the best techniques for helping you to quit smoking. It can serve as a distraction from your cravings, help with making you feel better in the wake of withdrawal symptoms and ensure you don’t put on weight while quitting. Today is the ideal time to experiment. When you feel an intense craving try going for a run and test the effects of this on your craving. If it is a successful easing tactic, all the more reason to keep it up.
Day 6 – Make a list of benefits for continuing
Today is the day for positive thoughts. You've made it several days without a cigarette and will most certainly be thinking about whether you can continue with your plan. You’ve forgotten the reasons you quit and the benefits of stopping smoking. So it’s time to refresh your memory.
Find the note you made earlier in the week and remind yourself why you’re giving up. Now grab a new piece of paper and make a list of the benefits of giving up smoking and once again try and make them personal to you. Pin this list somewhere and you can come back to it whenever you feel ready to falter.
Day 7 – Time for your reward!
You’ve made it to the end of the week and achieved your first goal! Today is the day for rewarding yourself. Take a trip to the cinema, cook yourself a feast, or buy yourself something new; the world really is your oyster. Rewarding your achievement is a vital tactic, it promotes positivity towards giving up, reminds you or your abilities and your success as well as acting as a successful distraction from any cravings or withdrawal symptoms. Positives really do trump the negatives.
It is important to remember that not managing to reach the end of the week without a cigarette does not make you a failure! If you have slipped up it does not mean that you’re not capable of quitting. You can pick yourself up and learn from your experience, making you better prepared for quitting again.
If you feel that you’re unable to give up smoking cold-turkey, there are many forms of medication available to help you succeed. These include Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs), therapy and even hypnosis. One of the best methods of helping you quit includes medication which works by relieving the symptoms of withdrawal, such as the Champix prescriptions available through our website.
If you’ve managed to complete this week cigarette frees then well done! To everyone at any stage of quitting, keep going and remember you are not alone.