If you're ready to quit smoking, we’re keen to lend a helping hand where we can, with 5 steps to get you started.
If you want to stop smoking, you are most definitely not alone. According to research presented by the Stoptober initiative, six in 10 smokers actively want to quit and, for most, taking the first step is the hardest part.
While it can be a struggle to kick a long-term habit, taking part in Stoptober means that you’ll be joining a community of people all dedicated to doing the same - and to date, the month-long challenge has helped 1.9 million make the change.
So, are you ready? Here are five Happiful Steps to get you started.
1. Start with your why
We all know that smoking is detrimental to our health, still, it can be incredibly difficult to break the habit. Quite often it’s easier to negotiate rather than stop completely. You might hear yourself saying; “I’ll only smoke when I drink, or at the weekend.” Cutting down on the amount you smoke is fine, if that’s what you’re ready for right now - and every step towards quitting is a step forward.
However, if you want to counter these bargaining behaviours and ban cigarettes from your life completely, start with why you want to stop. What is your reason and motivation?
It might be your ability to breathe and recover more easily when exercising, to save money or something life-enhancing or maybe to feel more in control of your day without the nag of a nicotine fix on your mind.
Write your reason, or reasons, down on small notes and stick them where you will be able to read them several times every day. Your bathroom mirror, the inside of your wardrobe, on the keyboard of your laptop, maybe. Set a reminder on your phone at times you would usually pop out for a smoke - help your future self succeed!
Finally, answer the following questions and write down your responses somewhere you can access them easily.
- What will no smoking success look and feel like?
- What will I be able to do with the time, money and energy I gain back when I’m cigarette free?
2. Get your success toolkit together
The annual arrival of Stoptober brings with it a huge amount of information and resources to help. A search for ‘Stoptober support’ will bring up a multitude of tools to support your smokeless lifestyle, including the Stoptober App, access to daily motivational emails, personalised quit plans and details of the Facebook community and chatbot for instant messaging if cravings are hitting you hard.
In addition to these resources, the site signposts face to face support, information about nicotine replacements and scientific studies on the benefits of living without cigarettes.
You can read about the experiences of smokers who have quit already as well as others who are embarking on the journey now. Remember, there’s a whole community out there wanting to make a change - you are not alone.
3. Know what works for you - accountability wise
Some people are more likely to make changes if they are part of an active group, all pursuing the same goals. Other people find it easier to go alone, sharing their progress when they feel ready and able. There are as many approaches to accountability as there are individual personalities so think about what might work for you and make a plan - building on the success toolkit you have started to develop.
Continually circle back to your motivation, your ‘why’- and your messages to yourself, can you build upon these if external accountability isn’t your thing? Could you record a voice note message you can play again when things feel tough?
If you struggle in the month, try to tap into the positivity and motivation you felt at the beginning of the journey to quit - read your response to what living a smoke-free life will look and feel like at the beginning of every day?
You know what will work for you.
4. Make your stop month memorable - for all the right reasons
Print off a calendar month view of the four week period you'll start to quit and plot interesting and fun activities for yourself across the month. This will help you to focus upon the experiences you’ve had and are looking forward to rather than purely counting each day without a cigarette.
Cinema trips, museum visits, autumn hikes, book readings, open writing or drawing classes - activities where you are engaged and being creative will help your mind focus and keep cravings at a low level.
Activities where you are engaged and being creative will help your mind focus and keep cravings at a low level.
Check out your local what’s on website or MeetUp and do something you’ve never done before, maybe try something you’ve never quite made the time for?
5. Consider hypnotherapy
Sometimes it can help to engage with specific therapeutic support to guide a change. Hypnotherapy is just one of the ways in which you can move towards a cigarette-free life and it can be very successful, as Hypnotherapy Directory Member Gavin Roberts explains.
“Through hypnosis, your unconscious can generate healthy alternative behaviours which you will carry out automatically. In effect, your stop smoking hypnosis session will reprogram your unconscious mind to produce the same positive intentions that you believe cigarettes have given you but in far healthier and normal ways. The human body was never designed to smoke, it is not a ‘normal’ behaviour.
“Smoking, like all habits, is controlled by the unconscious part of the mind. Hypnosis helps us access the REM state - nature's optimal learning state - and it is in this state that your deeper, unconscious mind is more open to new ideas and suggestions. When your unconscious is reprogrammed you don't have to try not to smoke; the urge is simply no longer there.”
All progress is positive
And remember - every step towards a smoke-free life is a step forward, and you don’t have to reconsider quitting if now isn’t the moment for you - you are leading this change for yourself. You set your time, your goals and your vision for success.
Good luck, we’re rooting for you!