In order to quit smoking for good, you have to change your attitude toward your quit. Believe me, I know how hard cold turkey is; it was my method of choice, and I smoked for over 33 years. I started when I was 12 and I'm going on 46 years old now.
More than anything else, what I most want you to know is that when you quit, you are not giving up smoking you are taking back your life.
The discomforts of nicotine withdrawal may seem like hell as you're going through it, but in reality it is a sign that your body is healing. That's right, healing. Look at recovery as a positive thing. It takes about 72 hour to process most of the nicotine in your body. You will release the rest within a few weeks.
Throughout the first three weeks of smoking cessation I slept a lot. I had mood swings, urges to smoke, brain fog with forgetfulness and other symptoms of withdrawal, but they all faded with time. The reason it's so uncomfortable is that your body is working to release not only nicotine, but all of the thousands of other chemicals in cigarettes it has become used to receiving multiple times a day.
Most people who quit successfully have learned that smoking cessation is 99 percent attitude. Stop thinking of quitting tobacco as a loss, or as something impossible, and start thinking of it as the beginning of freedom and a long healthy life.
And think about this: no one ever died from quitting smoking, just from not quitting smoking.
Here are my top 10 ways (in no particular order) to get started with adjusting your attitude for success:
1. Create a post at the smoking cessation support forum asking people to share the positive experiences they've had since quitting. Read it for inspiration.
2. Read through the forum messages from others. You will be surprised at the motivational power it will have for you. When you take a break from posting about yourself, you shift your focus and give yourself some space for clarity.
3. Celebrate the victories of fellow forum members. Go to Dot Milestones and celebrate someone's new dot. Go to the Star Milestones and celebrate a new star, especially a first or second star. You will find it uplifting and motivational. If you are new to quitting, the Dot and Star milestones, which celebrate weeks and months smoke-free respectively, will be close enough for you to feel you can reach those goals too. If you are able to feel that a year is not hopelessly out of reach, jump in to the One Year and Beyond Milestones and celebrate someone's one year anniversary. These folders are designed to help you focus on the positive aspects of quitting.
4. Keep a journal and write down positive things that you've noticed that day about quitting. This will help keep you focused on being successful. Even if you can only come up with one thing, that's okay. You will find more and more each day that you don't smoke. Entries can be something like "I am proud of myself for not smoking today" or "My clothes smell nice and fresh".
5. Get a copy of Allen Carr's "Easy Way To Stop Smoking".
6. Take control of your quit program, don't let your quit take control of you. Tell your inner junkie/nicodemon that you are stronger than that and he won't win. Sometimes having an inner dialogue with your junkie/demon is helpful. This is a fantasy conversation where you get to be Sheena Warrior Princess, Wonder woman, or whomever your superhero is. Living well is the best revenge...stick it to the junkie/nicodemon and enjoy your new smoke-free life.
7. Try to keep yourself busy, well-rested, well-fed and well-hydrated. Managing nicotine withdrawal is much harder when you are tired, hungry, dehydrated, bored, etc. Take care of yourself - just as much as you take care of your family, or others.
8. If all else fails, post an S.O.S. at the forum for help if you can't cope with an urge to smoke, or you're having a rough time. It really does work. Promise yourself you'll wait for three answers to your message before you run out to buy smokes. Read the inspiring things people say to you. Focus on the positive.
9. Take a break from the support forum if it's increasing rather than decreasing your urge to smoke. That can happen. It might be time to distract yourself with something different for the moment. When you are feeling stronger, come back and go to point #3 from above.
10. Laugh. Every day.
Thanks for sharing your insights, Karen. It is through a change of outlook that we are able to permanently break the mental chains that hold us tight to the habit of smoking.
If you're a smoker hoping to quit, or an ex-smoker looking to strengthen your motivation to stay smoke-free, please join us at the support forum here at About.com Smoking Cessation. The help and camaraderie available there is second to none.