12 Tips to Quit Smoking for New Year's

Notebook with goals written in it

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Something about leaving an old year behind and looking ahead at the clean slate of a new one inspires most of us to try. We think about making lasting positive changes in our lives, and we do it with hope and enthusiasm.

If you're planning to start the new year without a cigarette in your hand, set yourself up for success by learning what it takes to quit and what to expect from the process.

Take advantage of the resources and support available online and in your local area as well. Discuss your options with your doctor in order to come up with a plan that is right for your needs.

1. Don't Let Fear Paralyze You

Every smoker is well acquainted with the gut-wrenching fear that comes when the day they've planned to quit smoking arrives. You're suddenly filled with doubt about whether quitting is a good idea. Maybe you should wait until you're not so busy and stressed. Next week or month would be easier you tell yourself, as you light up and settle back into the haze of denial that comes with nicotine addiction.

Don't let fear stop you before you get started. Push through and stub out that last cigarette when the time comes. You can do it and the rewards awaiting you are well worth the effort it takes to quit.

2. Use a Quit Journal

Consider starting a quit journal and make the first entry the list of reasons you have for quitting. Take a look at an ex-smoker's list of the pros and cons of smoking and use it for inspiration on making a detailed list of your own.

We have a way of believing what we tell ourselves over and over. Your journal will help you cement your goals and give you perspective on the progress you're making with cessation.

3. Find a Shoulder to Lean On

Encouragement and comfort from others who are interested in your success are crucial. Augment support from family and friends with online support forums, which can be a thriving, active group of people who are going through what you are, and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Stop in as a guest to browse and read posts from other ex-smokers, or register to post messages of your own.

4. Eat Smart

Smoking cessation throws your body into shock initially. As damaging as the chemicals are in cigarette smoke, you've become physically accustomed to them and will feel their absence for a time when you quit.

If you take care to give your body the fuel it needs to run properly, you'll minimize and cope better with the discomforts associated with smoking cessation.

A few treats are fine but don't load up on empty calories that leave you feeling tired and cause weight gain. Keep the right foods within easy reach. It's especially important right now.

5. Drink Water

Water will help flush residual toxins out of your system and beat back cravings to smoke. When you're well-hydrated, you'll feel better in general, which is a plus when you're going through nicotine withdrawal.

6. Get Your Beauty Sleep

When you're tired, cravings to smoke will seem stronger and you'll have less energy to deal with them. Fit a full eight hours of sleep every night, and add a nap here and there if you need it.

If you have trouble sleeping when you first quit smoking, try taking a long walk a couple of hours before bed. Insomnia can be a symptom of nicotine withdrawal.

7. Get Moving

If you already have a daily exercise regimen, great. Keep it up. If not, start now. Choose something you enjoy doing, and you'll be more likely to stick with it. Not only will it help you minimize weight gain, but exercise also creates endorphins, which will give you a feel-good boost.

Aim for a half-hour of exercise every day. Walking is a low-impact activity that is suitable for most people and is a quick fix for the urge to smoke. Get out for a 15-minute walk around the block when you're feeling edgy and you'll come back refreshed and relaxed.

Be sure to check in with your doctor if you have any health issues that could be affected by a new exercise routine, especially if you've been inactive recently.

8. Renew Resolve Daily

Your determination to quit smoking is built one simple day at a time. Every smoke-free day makes you stronger. It may not feel that way early on, but trust in the process and know that time is helping you to heal. Use the journal mentioned earlier to jot a few notes about your day before going to bed. You'll quickly see the progress you're making as the days pile up.

When you consciously take time to reflect on the value of what you're doing, you fortify your will to make this the quit that lasts you a lifetime.

9. Be a Sponge

We all know that smoking is bad for us, but if you're like most smokers, you avoid looking at the destruction that tobacco causes whenever possible. Take the blinders off and read everything you can get your hands on about the dangers of smoking. It will help you start to make the mental shift necessary to quit smoking successfully.

10. Accept and Let It Go

Relax into your quit program and embrace cravings to smoke as they come. Don't fight them. Instead, try leaning into urges emotionally and let them run their course. Most cravings last three to five minutes. Think of them as signs that your body is healing because that is just what they are.

11. Don't Fall for Faulty Thinking

Quitting tobacco is a gift, not a sacrifice. Don't sabotage yourself by feeling sorry that you can't smoke. You are choosing not to smoke because you want to be free of this killer of an addiction. It's all in your perspective. Pay attention and keep yourself in a positive frame of mind.

12. Be Patient

Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, people don't quit smoking in a day or a week either. Most of us had 20 years or more of smoking under our belts before we stopped. Think of time and patience as quit tools. Work to undo old patterns and replace them with newer, healthier choices. Each day you complete smoke-free brings you closer to the lasting freedom you're after. Make this the year you quit smoking for good. You won't regret it.

By Terry Martin
Terry Martin quit smoking after 26 years and is now an advocate for those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction.