Did you make a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking? This is a very common but very difficult one to keep.
If you’re one of the millions who make New Year’s resolutions you probably know how hard it is to keep them. One study from the United Kingdom’s Royal Society of Public Health found that quitting smoking is the hardest resolution to keep. Only 4 percent of those who attempt to quit smoking unaided remain smoke-free one year later.
Nevertheless, quitting smoking is one of the best things for your health, said Eleana Conway, a nurse practitioner and manager of Lahey Health’s Health Improvement Program and free tobacco treatment program.
We are here to help in a non-judgmental, compassionate way,” Conway said. “You don’t have only January 1 to quit smoking. If you try and slip or relapse, don’t worry, beat yourself up, or worse, give up.”
If quitting smoking is your resolution, Conway offered four tips to help.
Reframe Your Thoughts on Quitting
“Rather than considering an end goal of being completely tobacco free, which can seem overwhelming and set us up for judgment and disappointment, try setting an intention. For example, being more healthy, Conway said. “This way if you fall off the wagon you haven’t failed. View it as an opportunity to pause and return to your intention and try again.”
Take every day as an opportunity to begin fresh.
Make a Plan
Conway urges you to make a ‘quit plan.’ Make a list of the reasons why quitting might be tough for you, then write down a way to deal with each reason. Use the strategies you come up with to overcome tricky situations. Support is also critical, she explained. “You have a better chance of quitting if you have help.” Conway suggested asking family and friends for support or considering an app, which in addition to support, can also help you calculate the amount of money you’ve saved by not buying cigarettes.
Mindfulness is focusing on the present moment and can help people cope with stress or cravings associated with quitting smoking. Mindfulness allows your cravings to come and go, while giving you the tools to ride the wave rather than be knocked down. There’s a breathing component that allows you to calm inner anxieties. When you have an urge to smoke, breathe deeply. Then picture your lungs filling with fresh, clean air. Mindfulness is everywhere right now. Try a class at Lahey Health or download an app on your phone.
Do Your Research
Take smoking out of auto-pilot. If you know you’re smoking when you’re stressed, do something to lower your stress. Exercise is always good. Try reading or finding a television show you love. If you smoke when you are bored, make a list of 10 things to do to keep your hands busy. Or, if cigarettes are a reward at the end of a day, maybe try a bath or a cup of tea instead.
For most people, it takes many attempts to stay quit for good. If you’ve tried to quit in the past, don’t give up! Keep trying because each attempt will help you reach your goal.