Quitting smoking ranks as high as fourth place in the top 10 of New Year’s resolutions. We already reported on the Stoptober campaign in October to get more people to quit smoking. Have you managed to stay smoke free, or is January the best time for you to quit smoking? Quitting smoking is always a good idea, even if it’s only temporarily or to cut back on the number of cigarettes you smoke. We’ll be happy to help you on your way.
What is your goal?
It’s important to get clear on what you want to accomplish with your New Year’s resolutions. In other words, you need to establish a clear and concrete goal. When it comes to smoking and nicotine addiction, people fall into different categories. There are people who want to quit smoking permanently. Others switch to e-cigarettes or vaping when trying to quit smoking. And there is also a category of smokers who only want to smoke on special occasions. What is your goal?
Be warned: there will be withdrawal symptoms
Whatever your goal, quitting smoking means changing a deeply ingrained habit. And this will cause a variety of physical symptoms. The first few days you’re likely to have withdrawal symptoms. Physical symptoms like headache and restlessness are common. For most people, the symptoms tend to be worse in the late afternoon and evening than in the morning. It’s good to be aware of this, so you can plan some activities to distract you from the cravings and physical symptoms. A hobby, sport or any activity that will keep your mind occupied will help you feel better.
Quitting smoking successfully is not impossible
Giving up smoking will be tough, but it can be done. The main thing is that you stay strong in your commitment to quitting. Don’t allow yourself to slip back into old habits. This goes for all our tips. If giving up smoking is too difficult, consider seeing a therapist or doctor for treatment, possibly in combination with smoking-cessation medication.
- Find out what your pitfalls are. Have you tried to stop smoking before? Then you know what triggers to avoid. Before you begin a new quit attempt, it’s important to know why your previous attempt was unsuccessful. Did your friends give you a hard time? Did you have difficulty coping with the withdrawal symptoms? Perhaps you weren’t as motivated as you could have been?
- Quit all at once. Of course, if your goal is to cut back on smoking instead of stopping altogether, then you don’t have to go ‘cold turkey’. However, it is important that you set a quit date. If you want to stop smoking altogether, then you must do it at once. It doesn’t work to cut down the amount you smoke first.
- Understand your urges. When is the urge to smoke the strongest? When you have your first cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening? Make a plan for these trigger situations. Maybe it’s easier to stop drinking wine for a while. Next time a craving hits, go for a walk. You can also call a friend or write your experiences in a journal to distract yourself through a craving.
- Be clear. Be prepared that people may ask you if you still smoke. You may even be offered a cigarette. Whatever you do, don’t second-guess your decision. Be clear about the fact that you’ve quit smoking. Smoking is a social activity. If you have smoking friends, they may actively press you to smoke or tell you not to be a party pooper. Don’t be taken in. You don’t smoke and that’s all there is to it.
- Tidy up. A cigarette smell in your home, an ashtray on the table… This will only remind you of smoking. If you decide to quit smoking, you should do it properly. Throw away all cigarettes and related items, bring fresh air into your home and make your house a cosy and inviting place. If you want, you can use scented candles to remove unpleasant odours. Clothes that you’ve worn that smell of cigarettes can trigger cravings, so make sure you have them dry cleaned.
- Make being smoke free your new normal and celebrate non-smoking milestones. On the other hand, life without cigarettes is your new life now, so maybe you don’t want to think about your non-smoking goals all the time. So, try to phase out celebrating your non-smoking goals. There is a point when you go from being someone who has quit smoking to a non-smoker.
- Need help to stop smoking? There are many smoking-cessation apps available that provide support. Perhaps they can boost your motivation to quit. But remember, becoming a non-smoker means that you cannot rely on these apps forever.
- If you’ve slipped and had a couple of cigarettes, don’t worry. This is typical, so don’t give up. One slip-up doesn’t have to lead to another. Simply figure out what caused you to relapse and avoid that trigger in the future.
If it’s impossible to quit successfully for an extended period, then consider getting professional help or coaching. Medication or nicotine replacement therapies are also an option. Consult a doctor for more information.
The Netherlands Heart Foundation. (n.d.). Stoppen met roken (Giving Up Smoking) | Heart Foundation. Consulted on 22 November 2019 on https://www.hartstichting.nl/gezond-leven/stoppen-met-roken
DokterDokter. (n.d.). Goede voornemens top 10 (Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions) | Dokterdokter.nl. Consulted on 22 November 2019 on https://www.dokterdokter.nl/gezond-leven/algemeen/goede-voornemens-top-10/item29598
Ik stop nu (I’m quitting). (2019, 12 September). Wat kan ik verwachten als ik stop met roken? – Ik stop nu (What can I expect when I quit smoking? – I’m quitting). Consulted on 22 November 2019 on https://www.ikstopnu.nl/stoppen-met-roken/voorbereiding/wat-kan-ik-verwachten-als-ik-stop-met-roken/
Thuisarts. (2017, 31 October). Ik wil nu stoppen met roken (I want to stop smoking now) | Thuisarts. Consulted on 22 November 2019 on https://www.thuisarts.nl/stoppen-met-roken/ik-wil-nu-stoppen-met-roken