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7 Tips to Help You Quit Smoking

7 Tips to Help You Quit Smoking

So, you’ve decided to quit smoking. That’s awesome, and you’ll undoubtedly notice that your health and overall sense of well-being will improve exponentially after you’ve quit, but the first few weeks going smoke-free will be hell on wheels (and not in that “good” way). Though nicotine itself will leave your body relatively quickly, a long-standing habit is difficult to break, and it’ll take a few months to get past the psychological addiction as well as the physical one.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you out a bit.

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    1. Have a Strong Support System

    It’s important to let your friends and family know that you’re serious about quitting, and why you want to do so: telling other people makes you accountable to others as well as to yourself, and they’ll be able to help you out by being supportive and encouraging when you need them to be. Make sure they understand that you’re going to be a grump-faced jerk for a little while as you try to break the addiction, but that you appreciate their support. Let them know exactly what you need from them (keep you away from cigarettes; distract you; let you lie on the floor watching Die Hard 50 times in a row, etc.) and let them help you when you need it—don’t be stubborn and try to face this alone.

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    2. Cut Back Before Cutting Out Completely

    If you’ve been a moderate-to-heavy smoker for a while, quitting cold turkey will be absolutely horrible, and you’ll be far more likely to jump right back into smoking out of sheer desperation. Start by cutting back by a couple of cigarettes a day for a week, then cut down more each consecutive week. Once you’re down to 1 or 2 smokes a day, you’ll be in a much better space to cut it out completely.

    3. Take it One Day at a Time

    “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, but if you’re staring at the seemingly endless horizon of a thousand-mile journey, you’re going to plunk your butt down on the ground, cry a bit, and light up a smoke. It may sound difficult, but try not to think about how much time it’s going to take for you to kick this habit: try to stay present, in the moment, one moment at a time.

    Any time you start to feel overwhelmed, bring your attention back to your breathing, and recognize just how many minutes you’ve spent that day not smoking. See if you’re able to add another minute to that, and then another. Soon you’ll get distracted by something else, and at the end of the day it’ll be a great epiphany to see that you’ve spent 20+ hours not smoking.

    4. Drink Water, and Chew Fennel Seeds

    The former sounds like pretty solid advice, but you might be wondering about the latter: fennel is a mild diuretic (it helps eliminate water from the body), so drinking plenty of water + chewing fennel = flushing toxins out of your body more quickly. Fennel also helps to freshen breath, and keeps your mouth active when cravings might arise so you’re not tempted to toss food in there instead.

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    5. Get Active

    Nothing makes you appreciate a clearer cardiovascular system than physical activity. If you’ve been mostly sedentary, try Yoga or Tai Chi to get you up and moving without straining yourself, or take up swimming: it’s a full-body exercise that can be as gentle or challenging as you need it to be.

    More active folks can sign up with a running group (which will also help you socialize with people who have healthy lifestyles), so there’s a solid support/encouragement system in that social group as well. You can run with others at the same level as yourself, and you’ll feel great as you all progress together.

     6.Take Up a Hobby

    Keeping your hands (and mind) focused on a specific task will keep you from thinking about shoving cigarettes into your face, and you’re less likely to have cravings when you’re focused intently on something amazing. Aim for a hobby that requires a significant amount of care and concentration, and begin with small projects that you can complete in a day or two: finishing them quickly will give you a sense of accomplishment, and will keep you from getting frustrated with them and turning back to cigarettes to calm you.

    Video games can also be distracting, though turning to something like World of Warcraft to get over your smoking addiction might not be the best idea: you’ll just be trading one vice for another.

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    7. Stay Away from Smokers

    This one might be the most difficult,  especially if your social circle is mostly comprised of people who smoke, or if the activities you participate in on a regular basis encourage smoking. Unfortunately, it’s often when we try to kick a bad habit that we discover who our true friends are: when you tell people around you that you’re trying to quit smoking, it’s more than likely that a few of them will make fun of you for it, and try to mock you or pressure you into having the occasional drag. Those who aren’t proud of their own addictions tend to encourage others to join them in it so they don’t feel as guilty, and they have someone with them who’s along for the ride. You could very well find yourself in awkward situations with people you considered friends, but who will give you no support as you try to give up smoking for good.

    If situations like these arise, you’ll need to distance yourself for a little while until you’ve made enough progress that you won’t be enticed by others who may offer you cigarettes. If certain people give you grief about your choice, then it might be a good idea to re-evaluate your relationship with them.

    Be patient with yourself, and give yourself time to heal as the nicotine works its way out of your system. You’ll feel like absolute hell for a while, and you’ll be a cranky, snarling mess to be around, but that passes quickly—before you know it, you won’t have any more cravings, and you’ll be able to run up a few flights of stairs without wheezing.

    Good luck!

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    Featured photo credit: The Last Cigarette via Shutterstock

     

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    Catherine Winter

    Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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