You’ve probably heard about Stoptober and, if you are a smoker, you may have even started the day yesterday without your much-needed morning cigarette. This exciting new NHS initiative is an attempt to urge a large-scale mission to give up smoking. The plan is to get people to give up smoking for a full 28 days, hopefully kick-starting long-term abstinence from smoking.
However, Twitter is abuzz with ex-smokers suffering through their second day of smoking cessation. This is no surprise, as the first few days can often be the most challenging, which is why you might find the below tips helpful in staying smoke free.
There are certain foods and beverages that can make cigarettes taste better. When being social, drinking coffee, tea, and drinks with fizzy mixers or even wine can make you crave and enjoy cigarettes more. So try and change to a different drink when you go out, such as a vodka and orange juice instead of your usual glass of red.
Drinking your drinks through a straw can keep your mouth busy, but there is also research that suggests that drinking cold water through a straw releases dopamine, which can help you feel more positive, therefore better able to fight temptation.
The benefit of quitting during Stoptober means that we are all in the same boat. However, it might still be a good idea to avoid situations where you will smoke. Luckily we don’t have to worry about smoking indoors in public places the UK, but perhaps avoid going outside when your friends pop out for a smoke.
Although our summer has been cut unceremoniously short, it’s perhaps a blessing in disguise, as we won’t be faced with the challenge of socialising in beer gardens where it’s all too tempting to light up a cigarette.
Exercise is always good, no matter how you look at it, but it can also make it easier for you to give up. Research has shown that people who exercise are better able to deal with cravings because exercise offers a welcome distraction. Exercising also helps your brain release mood-enhancing chemicals that will make you better able to deal with stress and anxiety that can make you more vulnerable to smoking again.
So ensure that you actively make time to exercise, particularly during the first few weeks after giving up. Simply going for a five minute walk when you feel the need to smoke can be a powerful way to cut cravings.
Some people like to smoke in the morning, after a meeting, when they’ve had a few drinks or before they go to bed. Breaking the routine will make it easier to distract yourself from your dependence. Smoking cessation treatment can also be helpful in breaking habits.
Smoking is expensive, and one of the top reasons people give up. On your most challenging days, see if you can work out how much you’ve saved and perhaps put that money aside to treat yourself to a holiday or something else special.
The early days of Stoptober is an ideal time to make a note of the reasons why you are quitting, even if it’s just one single reason. See if you can make copies of this and stick these wherever you can see them, to serve as a constant reminder why you are taking this life-enhancing step. For example, you might want to put on there that that you are doing it for your children, for your health or simply to save a few hundred pounds.