Smoking has probably been part of your life for some time. It is linked to things you do and the people you see. It is a deep-seated habit.
The good news is that healthy habits can be formed and reinforced in just the same way as less healthy ones. Here are some mental and behavioural tips and tricks to help make NOT smoking your new habit.
Change your routine
Smoking is often associated with patterns. Do you have a cigarette with your morning coffee? Before or after you take a shower? Change your routine and help break the habit.
For every trigger or routine, come up with a way to either change it or do something else instead.
Be aware of where you usually smoke
The environment plays a large role in controlling our behaviour. There are some places that you naturally associate with smoking. Pay attention to the places you go where you usually smoke, and try to avoid them – at least for a while. If you usually take one particular exit when you go for a smoke, try going a different way.
A habit is a three-fold process: a trigger, a routine and a reward. Smoking used to be your reward. To substitute this for a healthier habit, the reward needs to feel just as good as smoking did.
So, for example, if you usually go for a smoke with your colleagues as a quick break and way to relax during the day, try asking a non-smoking colleague of yours to go for a brisk walk instead. That way, you still get the reward of relaxation and socialisation while replacing smoking with a healthier alternative.
Don’t dwell on thoughts about smoking. Understand that quitting is hard, and make sure you recognise each and every achievement: 1-day smoke-free, 1-week smoke-free and beyond, these are important milestones in your quit journey that deserve recognition.
Try writing down all the reasons you want to quit and keep the list with you. When you’re feeling tempted, go through the list and remind yourself just how important quitting is to you. Don’t be afraid to talk to yourself (we all do it!).
When you have the urge to smoke or you're faced with a smoking trigger, visualise yourself doing your chosen healthier alternative or achieving your goal. It may sound silly, but visualisation can be very powerful, and if it helps you go smoke-free, then why not!
Deciding to quit is a big step, and there will be times when you think it’s just too hard. You may find these tips useful to help make NOT smoking your new habit and remember you're not alone. Lean on your friends, family and on your doctor for help and encouragement.