The start of any new year usually brings with it all kinds of resolutions. One of the most common new year’s resolutions is to live healthier. We promise ourselves to eat better, exercise more and reign in our various vices. For many Canadians, healthier living means quitting smoking, and all of the hype around National Non-Smoking Week (January 20-16, 2019) and Weedless Wednesday (January 22, 2019) often serves as the impetus to quit.
It’s not news that smoking can cause ailments such as lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, liver cancer, erectile dysfunction, ectopic pregnancy, vision loss, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis and colorectal cancer – to name just a few. We also all know that second hand smoke harms, so if you don’t stop for yourself, quit for loved ones around you.
That said, quitting can be hard. In fact, smokers tend to quit several times before actually kicking the habit for good. So if you’re planning on celebrating this National Non-Smoking Week smoke-free, consider these tips to ease yourself into the non-smoking world:
Set National Non-Smoking Week (Jan. 20-26) as your target quit date. This allows you a bit of time to start working towards your smoke-free goal by cutting back gradually.
Start by cutting your cigarette intake in half. Take whatever amount you smoke, and just indulge in 50% less than before. This way you’ll know you have another cigarette coming – but it’s just a little farther away.
Get rid of smoking reminders. Put away the matches and ashtrays, clean and spray your car, wash any clothes that smell like smoke. Put craver-fighters like gum or hard candy where you used to keep your cigarettes.
Avoid your smoking triggers. You may be motivated to smoke with your coffee or an alcoholic beverage, when you’re in a certain mood, or even during a certain time of day. Knowing what triggers you, can help you avoid it. Keep yourself busy, avoid being around other smokers, change your routine.
Stall for time. Try to delay lighting that cigarette– even if it’s by a minute or two. Commend yourself on having the resolve to wait, and every day onwards, try to extend that time between cigarettes just a little bit more.
Know the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It is not uncommon to experience nicotine cravings, anger, frustration, irritability, anxiety, depression and weight gain – in fact, studies have shown that more than half of smokers experience at least 4 of these. Knowing that what you’re feeling is normal may allow you to be a little more forgiving of yourself.
Enjoy the rewards of your body getting healthier over time. Our bodies have the amazing ability to repair themselves against the damages we’ve inflicted on them. After just 20 minutes without a cigarette your heart and blood pressure will drop; within 24 hours your damaged nerve endings will begin to regenerate; by 3 months your risk of heart attack will begin to decrease; by 1 year your risk of coronary heart disease is half of what a continuing smoker is; by 5 years that same risk will decrease to almost that of a non-smoker.
Get the app. There are many different apps out there to keep you on track. Some are serious, some informational, some more fun. Below are just a few of the more popular apps:
- QuitNow! boasts 2 million quitters and marks your milestones, based on World Health Organization data.
- KWIT incorporates game-like thinking and mechanics to introduce fun into your quest to become the “Ultimate Kwitter”.
- SMOKE FREE tracks how much money you have saved, how long you have been smoke-free, how many cigarettes you have avoided. It even works out the patterns behind your cravings.
- QUITTER’S CIRCLE helps you set goals, tracks milestones and motives you while allowing friends and family to send encouraging messages to you in real time.
Talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement products. Some smokers swear by hypnosis, while others rely on acupuncture. Many other smokers have quit successfully with the help of over-the-counter nicotine patches and gum lozenges. There are also nasal sprays and inhalers available, so if you’re finding it hard, talk to your healthcare professional.
Quitting is a journey, but know that it is possible to stop smoking. 1 in 5 Canadians just like you has managed to do it … so why not you? Here’s an added incentive to quit: while smokers can get life insurance, it goes without saying that premiums for non-smokers are far less expensive. To find out more about plans and rates, talk to your advisor or call Canada Protection Plan at 1-877-851-9090.