What makes you want to smoke? For most people, smoking becomes a routine part of daily life. Certain people, places, feelings, events, and even moods, called “triggers,” are linked with smoking. For instance, a trigger can be drinking a cup of coffee, talking on the phone, or seeing a friend who smokes.
Smoking routines become smoking triggers
Do you smoke a cigarette because you have a cup of coffee? Or do you have a cup of coffee so you can smoke a cigarette?
For most people, it’s hard to know. That’s why a smoking routine may become a smoking trigger.
Smoking routines may be automatic
Everything you do creates pathways or connections in the brain. Let’s say you routinely smoke in the kitchen. You’re actually training your brain to know that the kitchen is a place to smoke. Eventually, if you walk into the kitchen, your brain will have an automatic response – light up.
Unlearn old behavior
Because both nicotine addiction and your smoking routine have a physical effect on your body, it can feel beyond your control to change your behavior. That’s why it’s important to be aware. It helps to talk to your doctor about your smoking triggers. And see if treatments and quit smoking support plans can help you get cigarettes out of your life.
The first step in changing your smoking routines is to know your own personal triggers. Below is a list of common triggers.
Identify which ones make you feel the urge to smoke. You can print out a list of your smoking triggers along with some tips on how to manage those situations.
- When you drink coffee
- When you drink wine or beer
- After lunch or dinner
- When you talk on the phone
- When you are driving
- When you are with other smokers
- When you are watching TV
- When you are waiting for a bus or train
- After an argument
- When you feel anxious or stressed
If you’ve tried quitting before, you may have felt irritable when you didn’t have a cigarette. Why has quitting smoking always been so hard? The answer has a lot to do with nicotine.
Nicotine addiction cycle
- For most people, smoking is more than a habit. It’s a nicotine addiction. Nicotine withdrawal is why you probably feel irritable or anxious when you don’t have a cigarette.
- When you smoke, nicotine goes to the brain in seconds.
- When nicotine is in the brain, it causes the release of a chemical called dopamine, which gives the feeling of pleasure and calm.
- Your body doesn’t want that feeling to stop. But when you’re between cigarettes, the level of dopamine drops.
- Even if you want to quit, the body craves nicotine. This makes you keep smoking.
The more you smoke, the more nicotine you need
Over time, each cigarette you smoke may become less and less effective. That’s because, as the brain gets used to nicotine, you may need to smoke more to have the same feeling of pleasure and calm. Of course, the more you smoke, the more you inhale toxins in cigarettes that are linked to smoking-related illnesses.
How does it feel to quit?
On top of feeling the urge to smoke, you may also feel some of these common physical nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
- Dizziness (at first)
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Increased appetite
- Coughing and dry throat
- Slower heart rate
These effects will lessen over time.
Next, better health
Smoking-related health risks are actually caused by the other ingredients found in your cigarettes. For example, tobacco smoke has more than 60 ingredients known to cause cancer in humans. Luckily, once you quit, your risk of getting a smoking-related illness can start to drop—almost immediately.
How your doctor can help
Quitting smoking is hard, but possible. Your doctor can talk to you about nicotine addiction and tell you about treatment options and behavior support that may be right for you.
Tips to stop smoking
Get ready to quit
Ready to start planning your quit? Here are some ways you can get ready to say good-bye to cigarettes.
- Make a personal commitment to yourself
- Are you worried about your health? Or do you want to quit for your kids or family? Think about what will make you want to give up smoking. Write those reasons down.
- Start building a support network to help you quit smoking
- Tell your friends and family that you need their support. Talk about your reasons for quitting with them, too.
- Make an appointment with your doctor
- Talk to your doctor about wanting to quit. Ask about treatment options and support. Then decide on a quit date.
- Set a quit date
- Pick a date within the next 2 weeks. That’s enough time to get ready, but not so long that you’ll lose your will to quit.
- Mark your calendar. You may be more likely to go through with your quit if you see your quit day in writing.
- Enroll in a support program to help you quit smoking
- Look for a program that helps with your urge to smoke and helps you break your smoking routine.
- Clean up your living spaces
- Get rid of anything that reminds you of smoking. Don’t forget to throw out lighters, ashtrays, and cigarettes the night before.
- Anticipate withdrawal symptoms
- Withdrawal symptoms are part of quitting smoking. Start to plan what you will do when you feel a symptom.
- Know your smoking triggers
- Be aware of your triggers so you can understand why you get the urge to smoke.
Things to do on the day of quit
You’ve taken steps to get ready, and now it’s time to quit. Here’s what to do on your quit day:
Make sure you’re in a smoke-free zone
Throw out your cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters at home, at work and in your car. Try to clean up and even spray air freshener.
Take advantage of professional support
- Be sure to follow your doctor’s treatment advice.
- Enroll in a program to help as you go about changing your smoking routine into a nonsmoking routine.
Quit, one trigger at a time
Afraid of that first cup of coffee? Don’t know what to do when you get into your car? When you’re in a situation where you usually smoke, don’t panic. Just focus on dealing with that one trigger.
You can beat your trigger
If you face a trigger, you may feel an urge to smoke. Luckily, you have some ways to help deal with cravings right at your fingertips.
- Take a deep breath
- Calm yourself down by inhaling and exhaling three times slowly. You can repeat this anytime and anywhere.
- Drink plenty of water
- Staying hydrated is healthy and gives your mouth something to do instead of smoking.
- Call a friend
- Instead of smoking, try talking to a friend. Probably by the time you finish chatting, your craving will be over
- Set up a support network
- When your quit day arrives, tell your friends and family. They can help you manage your smoking triggers
- Start a walking routine. Or join a class or a gym. Check with your doctor before starting a new activity.
- Have a healthy snack
- Carrots, popcorn, and even chewing gum can help you keep your mouth occupied while the craving passes.
Get the support you need
When you’re in the process of quitting, it’s not unusual to feel alone. But you’re not. In fact, there’s lots of help out there.
- Friends and family
Many former smokers say that the support of family and friends helped them become nonsmokers.
- Your doctor
Your doctor may know how hard it is to overcome nicotine addiction from smoking. He or she can talk to you about available options to help you quit smoking.
- Professional counseling
Counseling, one-on-one or as part of a group, can help you cope with the stress of giving up your fags.
I myself had done it. You too can. Wish you All the Best…