It's the Great American Smokeout. Are you finally ready to quit?
By Cathy Poley
I started smoking my freshman year of college, partly because of the stress of new classes and a new environment and partly because it seemed to be "what all the cool kids were doing." It was a great way to socialize, I thought. You had a common activity that bonded you to other people instantly and you had approximately 3 minutes during a smoke break with others to enjoy a conversation.
I did not intend to smoke for 12 years, but a high-stress job fed my habit.
I vividly remember the day I decided to quit. I was on a smoke break, and I coughed. It was a loud, long, raspy cough. I had heard that cough before. It was the same cough my grandmother had.
My grandmother had been a life-long smoker before dying of a heart attack, something to which I am sure her heavy smoking habit contributed. When she had the heart attack she had just sat down at her kitchen table at 9 a.m. with a cigarette.
When I heard that same smoker's cough escape my mouth, I decided I had to quit. I did not go with a prescribed plan to quit smoking. If I had to do it over again, I would have called my doctor and asked for help. But I managed to quit smoking my own way.
Here are some tricks I used that are also recommended by Sharecare experts.
Set a quit date
The first thing I did was set a date to quit smoking. Picking a date gives you a chance to prepare mentally and physically to quit smoking. It also gives you time to talk to your doctor and arrange for any medications you might need to help you quit.
Clean your car
Jill Grimes, MD, recommends you have your car professionally cleaned the day before or the day of your quit day. Having a nice clean, fresh-smelling car gave me an extra incentive not to smoke in my vehicle.
Shake things up
Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) suggests you change your normal routine so you're less tempted to smoke. Whenever I wanted to walk outside to get away from my desk-the point at which I would normally take a smoke break-I would walk out a different door and walk around a different side of the building, away from my usual smoking area.
Keep your hands busy
Idle hands are a smoker's downfall. The American Dental Association recommends taking up some hobby that will keep your hands busy, such as needlework or crossword puzzles. It might sound silly, but I scratch a friend's back when my hands get fidgety and want to reach for a cigarette. It makes my friends happy and keeps me from smoking.
Don't expect to be perfect
Realize you are only human. Don't expect the urge to smoke to go away overnight. I have occasional cravings after having quit 6 years ago. Mark Cohen, MD, of Piedmont Heart Institute says he still sometimes has the urge to smoke after 35 years of not smoking. The key is to stick with it and use every resource you have to stay quit.
Cathy Poley is a project manager at Sharecare.
Get More Health Tips from Sharecare: