Filling the Gap

Easier Said than Done

We'd all like to think that once we've made the decision to quit smoking walking it out will be a piece of cake. And, we also know that isn't the case. There are definitely some people who have been able to put their cigarettes down and walk away - but those folks seem to be few and far between. If you were to ask any of them how they managed to do it, you'd get responses that range from having learned how to control their inner urges to divine help.

However, for the rest of us, quitting is a work in progress that takes some time until we get the better of the habit and break its power over our lives. Whether you're a teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be tough. In order to be successful you have to be motivated, have social support, an understanding of what to expect both physiologically and psychologically, and a personal path set out before you - a game plan. There's an adage that says "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail". So, with that in mind, it is possible to plan how to replace your smoking habits, manage your cravings, and kick the habit.

The Habit and The Addiction

Two things happen when you smoke. First, smoking tobacco is a psychological habit, an ingrained daily ritual that is part of your life. Second, smoking tobacco is a physical addiction. The nicotine from the cigarette is a narcotic to which you are addicted and it provides a temporary high. When you eliminate tobacco from your life you take away the narcotic fix and your body will go into withdrawal, with symptoms and cravings. In order to effectively quit, you have to address both the habit and the addiction. You have to change your habitual behaviors and break the addiction by dealing with the nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Why Did You Start Smoking?

Some of the most common reasons people begin to smoke is to manage unpleasant feelings and emotions like stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety. Lighting up at the end of a bad day feels like connecting with a good friend - the temporary fix helps to make things manageable. However, there are better and healthier ways to deal with negative emotions and unpleasant feelings. Exercising, meditation, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises are but a few of the methods that help deal with negative emotions without the harmful impact of nicotine.

Filling the Gap of Negative Emotions

Even after you do manage to put the cigarettes down, one of the most important things to accomplish is a way to fill the gap when the negative feelings come along. That is why it is so important to spend some time thinking about how you are going to deal with the underlying reasons why you picked up the habit in the first place. This isn't necessarily going to be easy. Usually, lighting a cigarette is an effective way to sidestep issues and medicate in order to avoid them. So, one of the gap fillers may be counseling to uncover deep issues. Once the crutch is gone, you will be able to see more clearly and find ways to address stressful situations and irritations that would have had you reaching for a smoke.

Now that you've decided to quit for good, use this simple method to begin your stop smoking plan:

S = Set a quit date.

T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.

A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you'll face while quitting.

R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work.

T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.

START quitting today and plan for a healthy future.