It can be a huge relief when one of your friends or family members tells you that they have decided to quit smoking. It can also leave you thinking ‘About time!’. It’s important, though, to remember that quitting isn’t easy and those trying to quit may be feeling a mix of emotions – some positive and some negative.
Receiving support from friends and family members is essential to successfully quitting. So by listening to the needs of those trying to quit smoking and encouraging them to go at their own pace, you are making a real difference. You can start by simply asking, 'What can I do to help?'. Don’t underestimate just how important this can be.
Support comes in two main forms: physical and emotional. Have a read through these support ideas to see which ones you can take on board to support those wanting to become smoke-free.
One of the hardest parts of quitting is resisting the physical urge to smoke.
You can help someone who is giving up smoking fight the urge by giving them something other than cigarettes to keep their mouth and hands busy. Perhaps put a ‘Quit Kit’ together for them filled with helpful tools: toothpicks, sugar-free lollipops, chewing gum, healthy snack options like fruits and nuts, and a stress ball.
Just being there for them during moments when they have the urge to smoke can also be a big help. The urge usually passes within a few minutes,1 so your presence can help distract and reassure them during some of the harder times.
Also encourage them to join you in the great outdoors: go for a walk, swim or leisurely cycle together. As they start to breathe easier,2 they will be able to enjoy the activities more and more (not to mention the added time with you), giving them motivation to stay smoke-free.
You might want to suggest that the person trying to give up smoking talks to their doctor for extra support available to help beat their cravings.
Some people may experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and irritability.3 Be a good listener. Let them talk about their feelings, or even have a little rant, but make sure that you remind them that these symptoms will fade with time,3 and that the benefits of quitting make all the effort worthwhile.
It’s easy for those trying to quit to become discouraged, have a slip-up or give up altogether. In fact, it’s normal to have many quit attempts. If someone you know slips-up, remind them that it’s not the end of the world. Help them get back on their feet and stay focused on their goal of going smoke-free. Encourage them to be realistic and make a plan about how to help prevent any future slip-ups.
Try not to get bogged down with the hard times and remember to celebrate the milestones: 24-hours smoke-free, one week, two weeks – every single milestone is important and should be recognised. A little praise can make a big difference. You could also go one step further and surprise them with a card, a home-cooked meal or tickets to the movies or a live show.
Quitting smoking is hard, but your support can make it much easier. It might be as simple as offering someone a sugar-free lolly or piece of chewing gum at the right moment, or just asking them how they are feeling. Remember, your support can make all the difference to someone trying to quit smoking and achieving their goal to be smoke-free.