Smoking is an addiction that people all over the world suffer from. Almost everyone knows the danger that comes with smoking tobacco regularly, but most smokers underestimate the addictive potential of nicotine when they first start out. Once addicted, it’s not soon before the desire to quit kicks in. It’s really no surprise that almost every smoker wishes they weren’t a smoker. Smoking tobacco daily can cause cancer, make it hard to breathe, lower physical stamina, impair the immune system, and cause cardiovascular issues among many other things.
But there is good news for smokers and those who love them: it is entirely possible to end this addiction. This guide was written as a concrete 30 day plan for quitting smoking. It’s our promise that if you follow the plan for 30 days, you will be well on your way to a smoke free lifestyle.
Prior To Starting Your Thirty Day Plan
There are two things you must do prior to starting your thirty day plan. The first is to make the decision to quit, and the second is to pick a quit day.
Making The Decision
You must freely make the decision to quit smoking. No one can force you into it. To help you in your decision, write down all of the reasons you would like to quit. Maybe you would like to improve your health, or maybe you want to do it for your children. Perhaps you would like to actually taste food or smell scents, or maybe you would like to be more productive. Your reasons may not include any of those; every person is a unique individual and there is no wrong reason to quit smoking. You may also want to make a short list of how smoking has impacted your health. This can be another thing to help spur you along your path.
Picking A Quit Day
A quit day is the day you will cease using cigarettes. Pick a day that will be as free of stress as possible. Women should not choose a day which falls during their monthly menstruation, as hormone levels make this the hardest time for women to stick to a serious change. Try to pick a day when you are off of work or school and have few commitments. A good idea may be to choose a day where a friend or family member can visit for moral support, although this is not entirely necessary. Circle the date on your calender as the start of your new smoke-free life and pledge to stick to that date.
Quitting: Day One
The first day is undoubtedly the hardest. It is common during those first twenty-four hours to feel anxious, or to have what people refer to as ‘nic fits.’ This is absolutely normal, and if you can push through them, you are well on your way to being smoke-free. When you first wake up on your quit day, solidify your determination by ridding your house of anything smoke related. Start by getting rid of all cigarettes, and ash trays. Wash the ash trays and put them away out of sight, or even give them away to someone else. Open up the windows in your house and clean away the smoke smell. It will not be easily gotten rid of, but a good cleaning and airing-out are a good start. It’s sort of like scrubbing your house of memories after a break-up. It will not only keep you busy, but it will feel good to say goodbye to the toxic and potentially deadly relationshiop you had with cigarettes.
Many people may need the aid of something else to help them quit, and this is perfectly fine. Here are some examples of cessation helpers that might help you get through the hardest parts of your quitting plan:
- Nicotine Patch
- Chewing Gum, Sunflower Seeds, or Cinnamon Sticks
- Electronic Cigarettes Containing 0% Nicotine
- Light, Healthy Snacking (Such as raw carrots or celery)
Other people may find other items which help them, but these are some of the most common used to help ease the transition from smoker to smoke-free. We didn’t include nicotine gum because studies are showing that most people simply switch addictions and end up hooked on the gum (which has its own health issues).
Quit Smoking: Days Two Through Seven
The first week is the hardest. You can expect the ‘nic fits’ and anxiety to continue throughout the week. Don’t let this deter you. Each passing day will become easier. The anxiety will slowly ease, and the nic fits will become less frequent as well as less severe. Some people may begin to notice a small cough around day six or seven. This cough may or may not include coughing up mucus or black stuff. This is normal. In fact, this means your lungs are clearing themselves of the toxins and tar you had been putting in them!
Tips On Making It Through The First Week
It is during the first week that the majority of people give up. Don’t let that be you! If you relapse or sneak a cigarette at some point, don’t let that deter you. Simply examine why it happened, and start your thirty days over again with the knowledge of why that slip up happened. Many people are unable to quit the first time around. There is no reason to be ashamed of it. Actually, it’s been shown that your chances of quitting successfully improve with each attempt at quitting.
Here are some simple tips on how to make it through the first week successfully:
- Tell your close friends and family members about your decision to quit. Share each new milestone with them. A simple congratulations and pat on the back can help you get through hours one through twenty-four, and days one through seven.
- For the first week, try to avoid social situations where others smoke. It isn’t always avoidable, and you can not avoid them forever. Trying to do so during the first seven days, however, can help to strengthen your resolve prior to facing those tough situations.
- Ask people to not smoke inside of your home or car.
- Drink plenty of water, and eat correctly.
- When faced with an urge to smoke, take a deep calming breath. Try to keep putting it off. Say: “Let’s see if I still want to smoke in five minutes.” When you reach five minutes, say, “Well, I have made it this far, so let’s wait another minutes.” Continue doing this until you no longer have an urge to smoke. Remember that half of the battle against nicotine is mental.
- Read over the list of reasons you want to quit every single morning when you wake up, and every night before you go to bed.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Reward Yourself At The End of Week One
When you have successfully complete your first smoke-free week, go ahead and celebrate. You deserve it because the first week is by far the most difficult. One fantastic idea is to put the money normally spent on cigarettes each day into a jar. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes is about $7. If you smoked half a pack a day, that is just under $25 a week. For a pack a day, that is just under $50. For extremely heavy smokers (two packs or more per day) that is over $100 a week! Take that money and do something special for yourself. You might want to buy something you have been wanting but couldn’t afford. You may want to see a movie, or go out to eat. Whatever it is, remind yourself that you are able to do this because you are no longer smoking.
Quit Smoking: Days Eight Through Fourteen (Week Two)
The second week will be considerably easier than the first, but it isn’t without difficulty. For those who haven’t already, you will probably start coughing as your lungs clear themselves out. You may also have digestive issues (going too much or not going enough). A little bit of anxiety may stay with you as you transition into week two as well. These things will eventually go away, and are part of the body’s healing process. There is nothing to be done about the coughing, but if your throat becomes scratchy you can use cough drops or honey. To ease the digestive issues, just add some extra fiber into your normal diet.
The Emotional Battle
While all thirty days of your quit smoking plan involve a lot of emotional battling, week one is mostly focused on breaking the physical dependency. Once the physical battle begins to ease up and your body begins to rid itself of the toxins you’ve been putting into it, you may find there is more focus on the emotional battle. You may be filled with doubt. Questions as to if you will be able to stick with this or if it is even worth it may pop into your head during this second week. Push those thoughts to the side. Keep telling yourself that you can stick with a smoke-free lifestyle. Quitting smoking is worth it! Here are some tips which may help you to ride out the emotional battle to come out on the other side successful:
- Read over your all-important list of reasons you wanted to quit. Read it as often as necessary. First thing in the morning, last thing at night, and whenever the cravings are hitting you particularly hard.
- Take deep, calming breaths. Your body is used to inhaling deeply when you were smoking.
- Do something that relaxes you when you are feeling overly anxious. Listen to music, read a book, take a long shower, go for a jog, or whatever helps you to stay calm and get your mind off of anything to do with cigarettes.
- Start an exercise routine if you do not already have one. Exercising releases endorphins, which makes you happy. It can give you the same temporary high of a cigarette without the dependency. Besides, this will help you to get even healthier!
- Continue to avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Write your thoughts down in a journal or diary.
- Talk to a close friend or family member about your struggle. Make sure this person is supportive of your quitting effort and a positive person.
- When you find yourself wondering whether or not your battle to be smoke-free is worth it, sit back and take note of how your body is changing for the better. By the second week, you should be able to smell and taste a little better. Your breathing should be improving and your stamina should be slightly increased. That midday crash may even be a little bit easier, your ‘second wind’ coming along a little quicker. Health improvements during the quitting process will be different for every person. Take a few moments out of your day to analyze how this change has been affecting you.
Rewarding Yourself At The End of Week Two
Just like at the end of week one, you should reward yourself when you successfully complete your second smoke-free week. Make this reward just a little bit bigger than the first one. What you do or buy is up to you, but make sure it is something important enough that it helps you to stay on your chosen path.
Quit Smoking: Days Fifteen Through Twenty One (Week Three)
The good news is that in week three you have completely overcome your physical addiction, and have braved the worst part of the emotional battle. You may still feel some emotional instability or have some difficulties rejecting a cigarette when offered one. You may be tempted by the smell of smoke, but even these will be much easier to control because they wont be nearly as strong as you were facing at the start of your journey towards being smoke-free. The major battle will be the one of breaking the habits of having something in your hands and for some people, oral fixation.
Finding Something To Do With Your Hands
Trying to figure out how to get around having something to do with your hands is actually quite easy. If you feel strange without having something in your hand, try drumming your fingers on a solid surface. Even your leg will work. You could also try twirling your hair and fiddling with your thumbs. If it’s necessary for you to be still, you could fold your hands in your lap. All of these things will help to keep your hands occupied without holding a cigarette.
Fixing An Oral Fixation
Many people develop an oral fixation while smoking. Others already had it ahead of time. Whatever the reason, this is one of the urges you may be fighting in your third week of being smoke-free. This can be fixed by keeping a toothpick between your lips or sucking on a lollipop. You can also try to snack when you feel your oral fixation coming on. Remember to snack on something light so you don’t gain weight or become unhealthy. Becoming healthy is, after all, one of the main reasons people quit smoking. Good snack choices include carrots, celery, radishes, or any light and crunchy vegetable.
Rewarding Yourself At The End of Week Three
Like in the first two weeks, reaching the end of your third smoke-free week deserves a little reward. Make sure the reward is something you really want or need so it helps you to stay on track. Also make sure that it is just a little bigger than in the second week.
Quit Smoking: Days Twenty Two Through Thirty (Week Four and Beyond)
By the time you enter your last week you are nearly free of jitters. You may find you don’t even want a cigarette any longer. In fact, many people report that by the time they end their first smoke-free month that the smell of cigarette smoke is repulsive to them. This is fantastic because it helps to deter you from ever picking another cigarette up. If you are still craving a cigarette by the time this month ends, however, don’t feel discourage. Some people must battle cravings for quite some time, and that is perfectly fine just so long as you don’t give into them.
Dropping The Quit Smoking Aids
This last week is mostly about laying off of your quit smoking aids. Whether it be the patch, e-cigarette, or something else, you should now begin to wean yourself off of them. You may not be completely weaned off by the end of your first smoke-free month, but by the start of your fourth week you are certainly ready to begin getting off of them. Take it as slowly as you need to without reverting back to cigarettes, and don’t feel bad if you still need them once in a great while.
What Has Happened to Your Body
From the very moment you quit smoking you will begin to see changes in your body- and they’re all good changes. While the exact changes at the end of your first smoke-free month will vary from person to person, here is what you are likely experiencing now:
- Your heart rate has dropped back to a normal level.
- Your blood pressure has dropped back within normal ranges.
- The carbon monoxide levels inside of your body are now within the normal ranges, and thus, not toxic.
- Your risk of heart attack or other heart related disease has dropped significantly.
- Your smell and taste have been enhanced.
- You no longer smell like a walking ash tray.
- You will have a greater stamina. This means you will be able to do numerous things you could not while smoking.
- Your immune system is enhanced, and you will get sick less often.
- Your lungs have begun to gradually repair themselves.
- Breathing is now easier, and you should no longer have that awful smokers cough.
- Your skin and general appearance are better.
That’s a lot of improvement, and this isn’t even an all inclusive list! As we mentioned before, the exact changes vary from person to person. You may have noticed all of these things, a few different things, or just a few of these things. As if these benefits were not enough, if you remain smoke free your life expectancy will rise to that (or nearly that) of a person who has never smoked!
How To Remain Smoke-Free
Now that you have officially quit, you must be persistent in remaining smoke free. This means maintaining the other lifestyle choices you have made. This means continuing to exercise, drink plenty of water, and eating the right foods. All of these things will help contribute not only to a generally healthier lifestyle, but also to your commitment remain smoke free. Remember to reward yourself on big quit smoking anniversaries. While it is no longer necessary to reward yourself at the end of each week, you should reward yourself at the end of three, six, and nine months. Feel free to throw a party and go all out at the one year mark because you more than deserve. Just keep doing what you have been doing and you are sure to succeed.
Congratulations on becoming smoke free! It can only get easier from here, and your body will only get healthier. Your quality of life will gradually improve over the years. When you look back you will wonder why or how you ever smoked to begin with. Give yourself a big pat on the back because you are now a non-smoker!