Quitting smoking "cold turkey" can be a daunting idea for many people. They dread the thought of dealing with physical, mental and emotional cravings while at the same time trying to overcome the mindless habit that smoking has become during so many of their activities.
However, there is an easier way to give up smoking that works well for many people; gradually cutting down the frequency of smoking before quitting altogether.
There are many ways to do this, and all of them can be equally effective:
- Keep track.
Sometimes just being aware of how much you are smoking each day can help you to smoke less. Because smoking is often a "mindless habit," you may not realize that you are smoking more than you think. There are a couple of ways to use this method. If you tend to smoke in only one place, like at home for example, try emptying all of your ashtrays each morning before you smoke your first cigarette. At the end of the day, count how many butts have accumulated in the ashtrays and write the figure in a notebook. Each day as you smoke, keep in mind that you'll have to count every single butt and write it down later; that alone may help you to smoke less.
Another technique is to tape a small piece of paper to your cigarette pack and make a mark every time you smoke a cigarette. If you finish one pack and open another, simply move the paper to the new pack and continue making a mark every time you light up. At the end of each day, tally up your marks and write the total in a notebook.
The goal with this method is to gradually reduce the amount of cigarettes you smoke each day until you are down to just a few, then quit completely.
- Start with less, smoke less.
You can also set a firm limit to smoke only the amount of cigarettes you start with each day. If you normally smoke one pack a day, you'll start with that amount. On day one, you smoke the full pack of 20 cigarettes. On day two, you remove one cigarette from the pack and put it away somewhere and only smoke the 19 cigarettes in your pack. On day three, remove two cigarettes and store them away, smoking only 18 cigarettes. Continue like this each day, gradually reducing the amount of cigarettes you smoke each day.
If you feel it's too intimidating to cut down daily, try extending the timeline a bit by reducing the number of cigarettes weekly instead of daily.
- Disassociation from other activities.
Another helpful method is to first disassociate smoking from your other activities. Do you always smoke while you're talking on the phone? What about when you watch TV, drive, or use the computer? Try no longer smoking during these activities. It will probably feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but you will adjust little by little. Do you always smoke after a meal? Try holding off for half an hour or more to get yourself used to not smoking when you finish eating. When you finally do quit smoking completely you'll have a much easier time and not feel so lost.
All of these methods of quitting smoking gradually have one thing in common: the necessity of being determined to stick with it. If you are not motivated to cut down or quit smoking, you simply won't do it. If, however, you are ready to kick the habit for good, you may actually find it enjoyable to reduce your intake of nicotine and look forward to the day when you finally say with conviction, "I quit!"
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