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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.

quit smoking

    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 January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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