As the weather gets warmer, we can all enjoy getting back outdoors and being active. You see, when you are physically active, endorphins in the brain are released, thus improving your mood. So those pleasurable feelings that you previously associated with smoking, you can still have while obtaining them in a healthy new way.
And, while being more active in the summer is certainly a plus when quitting, often your normal routine is somewhat upset; or at the very least, different in the summer (i.e., kids are out of school, family vacations, home projects, etc.) When people find that their normal routine is interrupted, this is also a good time to quit; as they don’t have those typical triggers in their day that have become so much a part of their everyday life.
Some steps you may want to consider as you prepare to quit:
- Begin by tracking when you are smoking. This technique, often referred to as “journaling” or “logging” about your smoking is one way that you can make some steps toward quitting, without actually quitting right now.
Put a small notecard in your cigarette pack, and record:
- The time of day you are smoking, a rating of your current urge to smoke ( L-light, M-medium, or S-strong)
- Your current mood in one word (angry, stressed, happy, etc.), and
- What you are doing at this time (having coffee, working on a project, watching TV, etc.)
This is one way that you can begin the process of quitting smoking. By considering what times of the day are going to be the most difficult for you when you quit, you can begin to plan those lifestyle changes that will be helpful to you when you quit (i.e., the times when a little physical activity, or merely a distraction or some kind, will be the most helpful such as a few minutes of meditation, calling a friend, or throwing a ball around).
- Make an appointment with a tobacco treatment specialist, or your family care physician, to discuss medication options. Plan on using at least two of the 7 approved smoking cessation medications (nicotine patch, nicotine inhaler, nicotine nasal spray, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenge, Bupropion, or Varenicline), and find a plan that is right for you.
- Set a stop date. When picking a stop day, you may want to choose a day that may be less stressful – such as a day that you are not working; or perhaps you would rather be working on your quit day, as you feel keeping busy would be helpful to you. Again, this is your plan, and you know yourself the best.
When quitting smoking, with whatever medication plan you choose, plan on using it for at least 3 months. It will take that long to get your new, smoke-free lifestyle into place. After all, you have those 3 glorious months of summer to fine tune these changes, and make this quit attempt the one that really sticks!
Barb Dallavalle, MA, LP