You know how we are always talking about having the "tools" to help us when we are quitting? We talk about using our "tools" to make it through a craving. We talk about using the "tools" we've been given to protect our Quit. Let's talk about these tools.
It would be great if you could walk into a hardware store and say, "I'd like to buy some Quit Smoking tools, please." You can't. But if you COULD...here's what you'd walk out of the store with:
1) Education: This would be articles, books, websites where you can learn about nicotine addiction. The tool of Education will be key in helping you learn that you CAN quit smoking and never smoke again. You will use this tool before you quit to get yourself ready and keep using it after you quit to keep you strong. This tool gives you knowledge and helps you benefit from the experience of others. Example: "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking" by Allen Carr and (my personal favorite) "Nicotine Addiction 101" on whyquit.com
2) Distractions: You should have plenty of suggestions and ideas from other people here on EX about ways to distract yourself if you need ways to redirect your brain when you can't seem to stop thinking about smoking or when a craving hits you. There are two types of distractions: Activities that will distract your hands/thoughts (examples: scrub your toilet, weed your garden, redo your nail polish, organize your tackle box, dance for an entire ABBA song, browse around on eBay, etc.) and Flavors/tastes that will surprise (or shock!) your tastebuds and sense of smell (examples: a spoonful of peanut butter, a drop of Tabasco, a shake of cocoa powder, blue cheese crumbles, a squirt of pancake syrup, a whiff of curry powder, Fruit Loops one at a time, Red-Hot candies, etc.) Make a physical list, written or typed, and keep it with you at all times.
3) Human Support: Online (like EX) or in person (family, co-workers, friends) can be some of the best tools you have during the first few weeks of your Quit. Obviously, it doesn't help to lean on someone who still smokes. Never-Ever Smokers can't understand what you are going through, BUT they can be your biggest face-to-face cheerleaders. Don't forget to educate Never-Evers before your Quit Date, using the "Letter to My Loved Ones". You can find this letter here on EX by doing a search for it. Many quitters have said it made a world of difference in the way their friends and family were able to understand and support them. EX is, of course, an invaluable support tool. I don't think I need to elaborate on why EX is so amazing, do I?
4) Common Sense: Your tool box should be chock full of common sense. Your common sense will tell you about things to do, things not to do, things that will help you, things that will hurt you, things to stay close to, things to stay away from. This tool is different from the knowledge you got from Education (#1 above) because it requires you to be creative and think for yourself within the details of your own life. It's that little angel/devil on your shoulder thing, right? Oh, wait. That's called "Conscience". Well, that's a good tool, too. But be careful of Conscience because that can cause a very UNhelpful thing called "guilt", which has NO PLACE in the tool box.
5) A Bottle of Water and A Big Yellow Lemon in a Baggie: Okay, okay, these both actually fall under Distractions (#2 above). But they are SO basic (the water) and SO effective (the lemon) that I felt they deserved the separate category of "Honorable Mention Tools". If you feel like you are losing control at any time during your Quit, take a big slug of water from the bottle. It's easy, it's available and it takes no great thought. Sometimes a few big swallows of water is all it takes to get you back on track. Or...take a deep breath and bite into that lemon, peel and all. It is not pleasurable. But it is a Hall of Fame Crave Buster. You will NOT want a cigarette after biting that lemon. I promise. (The baggie is so you can carry it with you. I got some very odd looks when I took out my lemon and bit it in airports! But...I don't smoke anymore, do I?)
6) Patience: Quitting doesn't happen in a day or a week or even a few weeks. As Youngatheart (Nancy) has said many times "Quitting is not an event; it's a journey.". It doesn't happen all at once and the road can be rocky, at times. Sometimes, all the best tools in your Tool Box aren't doing the trick. That's when you need this tool : PATIENCE. Thomas posted a blog about riding out cravings, experiencing the feelings, acknowledging the difficulty, not trying to fight it, and waiting for the urge to ebb away like a wave. It was a brilliant blog; go read it. Sometimes, you just have to be PATIENT. And patience in action means this: When you think you can't stand it another minute? Just wait a little longer. It WILL pass.
So, Quitters, go check your toolboxes! Are you missing any of these tools? And if you have counted "Willpower" as a tool, forget it. Pitch it out. It won't help you find a Fovever Quit and it's not a real tool at all! Instead of "Willpower", use Education.