6 Uncommon Steps to Quit Smoking and 8 Ways to Stay Smoke-Free
Eight Failed Attempts
This article is a guide that spells out the steps I took to quit smoking cigarettes. Please know this was after eight attempts of trying to quit using conventional means. I had tried laser therapy, acupuncture, nicotine patches, nicotine gum, smokeless cigarettes, tea tree oil chewing sticks, cough drops, quitting cold turkey, and simply cutting down. None of these methods worked for me.
I finally came to the realization that I needed to quit in a way that was designed for me and my specific needs. In this article, I will share what worked for me—and maybe you can use some of these ideas when creating your own plan. Just the fact that you are reading this article shows that you are well on your way to being smoke-free; it's just a matter of sorting out the puzzle.
6 Steps Before I Quit
Step #1 - I Cleaned My Mind (Instead of My Environment)
Most smoking cessation websites or groups tell you to clean your house, get rid of your cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia before you quit. I didn’t follow this criterion because in the past it didn’t work for me. If I broke down and all my cigarettes were in the trash, I would just go down to the store and buy a new pack; real simple. I knew I needed something more, I needed to figure why I even smoked to begin with.
Instead of cleaning my apartment, I cleaned out my mind. I began to face my demons, go within. I had to look at why I began smoking right in the eyes. Plus, save the cleaning for after you quit. Do you know how much crazy energy you’ll have when you quit?! You need to channel it into something or many things (read further for more tips on this).
Step #2 - I Changed my Attitude Toward Smoking
I had to understand the cycle of my habit. I read The Easy Way to Quit Smoking, by Alan Carr, and this completely changed my perspective on smoking cigarettes in general. I started recognizing my triggers. I realized I was stuck and I didn't even like cigarettes. Some people can quit immediately after reading this book. Not me however, it made me realize I was in a “trap," as Carr called it, and I saw I was very addicted. The one thing this book didn't address for me was the reason for my emotional connection to this habit; which takes me to…
Step #3 - I Faced My Demons
The biggest challenge was the mental fear of letting go of my crutch. I was afraid and knew I needed help with wrapping my head around this reason for fear. Why was I so afraid?
I read another book (yeah I know, but hopefully if you are reading this post you like to read, too) called Lighting Up, by Susan Shapiro. This book is hilarious! While reading it epiphanies started pouring out of me! I was smoking to cope with traumatic events that took place in my youth (I’ll save the details for my memoir). The moment I acknowledged these ideas and was honest with myself I felt a sense of relief. I finally saw myself for the first time and dealt with emotions I had been suppressing for years with the help of cigarettes.
Step #4 - I Went Food Shopping
Tip: To help avoid smoking triggers change up your food habits: If you drink coffee switch to green tea or if you always get the same lunch try something new on the menu. This way you psyche yourself out to avoid any unnecessary high impact withdrawals.
I bought a huge bag of almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, carrots and celery. Get a lunch box and bring your healthy snacks with you everywhere! Drink a ton of water!
I got the Nurtibullet for Christmas and decided I was going to eat clean to help myself detox quicker- it worked! I bought kale, spinach, watercress, parsley, avocado, lemon, lime, grapefruit, berries, mango, and pineapple. I got my fridge ready the Sunday before I quit so I was prepared in advance. I did not want to gain the quit smoking 40. No way! Not me.
Step #5 - I Scheduled Healthy Activities
For the first three days after my quit date, I made sure I scheduled personal training each night after work. This way I would remain occupied from the moment I woke up until the moment I slept. I did not give myself the opportunity to stop moving.
Step #6 - I Planned My Reward
I scheduled a yoga retreat for myself exactly a month after my quit date. This was really a great motivator! Not only is this retreat a smoke-free campus but they have amazing Ayurvedic treatments to assist with detoxing and promote relaxation.
New Year's Day Resolution
On New Year’s Day I smoked out the rest of my pack (I think I had four cigarettes left over), and I was ready to begin the process. I knew it was going to suck, but I also knew I was giving myself a gift.
8 Steps After I Quit
Step #1 - I Avoided My Friends Who Smoke
I did not hang out with any of my friends who smoked for the first week or two. With all the social networking they didn't even realize that I was avoiding them. Okay, maybe one did but if they didn't get why once explained then they’re not my real friend anyway.
Step #2 - I Drank Like a Fish
Yes, I will say it again! Drink a ton of water. I brought water with me everywhere. I was always drinking water to help flush all the toxins out of my body and help me get passed the first 48. Detox teas are a terrific idea, too!
Step #3 - I Substituted My Morning Hot Drink
I drank coffee every morning with my cigarette so instead I switched to green tea. Trust me, it made a difference. I didn't start drinking coffee again until about two weeks after my quit date.
Step #4 - I Made My Snacks Mobile
I bring my healthy snacks everywhere now. I do not want to fall into the sugar snack trap! I find I am saving money because every time I bought cigarettes I bought a snack, then a drink, and before you know it I spent $18 at the store. If you smoke every day, you do the math for the month.
Step #5 - I Didn't (and Still Don't) Eat: Meat, Bread, Sugar, or Dairy
I truly believe because I am choosing to eat ovo-vegetarian for the month (means eggs are on the menu) that I have less nicotine cravings, I am detoxing faster, and I have less mental chatter. This diet choice is supporting my transformation. Being this disciplined is really boosting my self-esteem and confidence too.
Step #6 - I Got My Ass in Gear
Now you clean your environment! I went H.A.M. I took this step to the next level by organizing every cabinet, closet, drawer and corner of my living space. I donated, recycled, and threw out anything that I didn't use in the past two years or didn't need at all.
Don’t stop moving! Every day after work I ate, walked my dog, then I went straight to the appointments I scheduled at the gym. I worked out, used the sauna, the whirlpool, the regular pool, took a shower and by the time I got home- lights out (well some nights).
Step #7 - I Tried Some Sleeping Aids
I was prescribed muscle relaxers for my fibromyalgia and had two left over. I took one the first night because I had the worse knot in my left leg so I slept like a baby. On night two, even after the gym, I realized that quitting smoking gave me insomnia. On night three I was more prepared. I am not big on taking drugs to aid sleep, especially when the point of all this is to rid myself of the drug nicotine. Instead I went for a more common sense and natural approach:
- Dream Water, a liquid relaxation shot or the yang to Red Bulls ying
- Badger Sleep Balm Lavender & Bergamont. I put this on my temples, throat, and chest. There is something to be said about aromatherapy.
- Drank a glass of water and kept water next to my bed
- Wore my favorite socks
Step #8 - MOST IMPORTANT STEP: I Did Not Tell Anyone I Quit
Having a quit smoking “support system” is absolute BS. A non-smoker came up with this one. When you tell people you quit, every five minutes someone asks you “how you are doing with quitting smoking?” and all you hear is smoking which causes you to think about a cigarette, triggering a craving, and overall discomfort.
I didn't tell anyone I quit for the first seven days except one person at my job who understood the above because he was an ex-smoker himself. After seven days, I told a few more people and after twelve I told my family. Best choice I ever made.
One Day at a Time…
Talk about learning how to stay present. Quitting smoking, I mean really die-hard quitting smoking, makes you zone into each minute of your life. It’s kind of beautiful actually. It’s meditation in motion. Speaking of, yoga really helps, too!
I know I can never ever touch a cigarette again or I will become addicted once more. I know when I have a craving it is a such a short time in my life and it will pass. I remind myself to look at the big picture and remember to breath deep.