There are a lot of reasons to quit smoking, from your health to your finances. Even though it won't be the easiest thing you ever do, it will be undoubtedly the best thing. On No Smoking Day, marked on 9 March, here are ten ways to help yourself quit for good.
Set a quit date
Making a specific plan to stop smoking will help you stick to quitting when it gets tough. Set a date to stop and write down exactly what you want to do, for example, "I will not smoke a cigarette" or "I will not have a single drag".
Exercise can help you quit smoking, as well as reduce the damage cigarettes have done to your body so far. It helps you relax, which will be invaluable when the cravings kick in, and it can help distract you from want wanting to smoke. According to the NHS, even a five-minute walk or a stretch can help cut cravings and may help your brain produce anti-craving chemicals.
Make a list
Remind yourself of the reasons why you want to quit by writing down lists and putting them places where you will see them every day. If you are quitting because of your children, use a picture of them; if you want to save the money you would have otherwise spent on cigarettes, write that down.
Going cold turkey is appealing, but you'll boost your chances of quitting for good if you can control your cravings – which may require some help in the form of stop-smoking aids or medicine. Try nicotine chewing gum or patches. You aren't the only one who needs a hand – only three in every 100 smokers manage to permanently stop smoking without nicotine replacement therapy.
Anticipate your challenges
Identifying triggers can help you quit. Do you normally smoke when you walk to work? Have a coffee instead. Do you smoke in your workplace? Have a small, healthy snack instead. Chewing gum can help too.
Drinking water keeps you hydrated and healthy – which may help minimise the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It also gives you something to do with your hands, which may stop you reaching for a cigarette when your cravings are bad.
Find ways to relax
Finding new ways to relax is essential to get through the worst of the cravings. Try going for a walk, listening to music, meditating – there are hundreds of free apps – or you could even try an adult colouring book.
Do something else with your hands
If you miss the feeling of holding a cigarette, try holding a pencil, a straw, a pen – anything to simulate it.
Studies show that you're four times more likely to quit smoking if you do it with help from the NHS. You can make an appointment without seeing your doctor by calling the NHS Stop Smoking helpline on 0300 123 1044 (England only). You can also try your local stop smoking service. You can also go to your GP – find out how they can help you here.
Several small meals a day
The American Cancer Society recommends eating four to six small meals during the day instead of one or two large ones, to keep your blood sugar levels steady and your energy balanced. It may also prevent the urge to smoke.