For many of us the New Year is a time to reflect. To think about both what you have achieved and things you might have changed. Maybe you developed a new hobby, or reconnected with that long-lost friend on a video call, but did you really need that third helping of sticky toffee pudding at Christmas… The answer to the last one is obviously yes!
But, the New Year is also a time to look forward. To plan ahead and to think about what you would like to do differently.
If you’re a smoker you might have considered using the New Year as an opportunity to stop smoking. Maybe you’ve even made quitting smoking one of your New Year resolutions.
If you are looking to quit smoking this year, a great place to start is by aiming to achieve a smoke free January. Targeting the first 31 days of the year is a good way to make quitting smoking more achievable and to set yourself up for future success.
Why is the New Year a good time to quit smoking?
If you have tried to quit smoking before you’ll know just how difficult it can be. The cravings can be hard to resist and the withdrawal symptoms can make you question why you are quitting.
This is why aiming for a smoke-free month can be a good-way to kickstart your quitting journey. It breaks down the process into a manageable chunk with a clear start and end date. This means even if you go back to smoking at the end of the 31 days, you’ll be able to celebrate your smoke-free month rather than regretting a smoking relapse.
If you quit smoking for just a month, while you will not see significant long-term benefits, you will be boosting your chances of success long-term. This is as evidence has shown if you can make it over 28-days smoke free then you are 5 times more likely to quit for good. 1
Another reason the New Year is a good time to quit smoking is you’ll be leaving behind the festive indulgence.
One of the hardest parts of quitting smoking can be going to social occasions when you would normally smoke with others. You might strongly associate these events with smoking, which means they can act as a trigger for smoking. Having fewer social events in the calendar can be a good way to avoid temptation.
What are the benefits of quitting smoking for 31 days?
Even within a 31 day period you’ll also start to feel some of the positives of quitting smoking. In fact, some of the benefits of quitting smoking can be felt just 20 minutes after quitting smoking.
Some of the advantages of a smoke free life you might start to enjoy within 31 days of quitting include:
- Your pulse rate and blood pressure level will begin to return to normal1
- An improved sense of taste and smell1
- A decreased risk of a heart attack1
- Your breathing gets easier and the shortness of breath you often get as a regular smoker will clear up2
- Improved circulation and oxygenation means walking might feel easier, with lung function improved by up to 30%3
How to get started with your New Year quit attempt
There is no one size fits all plan when it comes to stopping smoking. In fact, the good news is there are lots of ways to quit smoking. The most important thing is working out an approach that works for you and that’ll you’ll be able to stick to. Common approaches to quit smoking include:
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) Products
- Prescription Stop Smoking Aids
- Cold Turkey
- Behaviour Changes
When beginning your quit smoking journey it can be tempting to adopt a ‘cold turkey’ approach. After all, giving up smoking means just a process of not smoking anymore right?
However, only 3 in every 100 smokers are able to quit with willpower alone.4 This means while a ‘cold turkey’ approach can work, for most people it is a challenging way to set themselves up for a successful quit attempt.
If you decide not to use the cold turkey approach, you can review the NHS guidance on different stop smoking aids that are available to find which option might be right for you. You could also visit our charity partner website, The British Lung Foundation, for their advice on stopping smoking.
How to tackle withdrawal symptoms
Unfortunately, cravings probably aren’t the only quit smoking withdrawal symptoms you might experience. However, while the withdrawal symptoms of smoking may be unpleasant, they aren’t harmful and they will pass. Leaving you free to enjoy all the benefits of a smoke free life.
Smoking withdrawal symptoms can be broken down into physical and mental/behavioural symptoms. Physical withdrawal symptoms include:
- Changes in appetite
- Sore Throat
- Headaches and Dizziness
- Bowel Changes
While mental and behavioural symptoms include:
- Cognitive Impairment
As with cravings, a common approach to dealing with withdrawal symptoms of smoking is by getting help. This could be by using NRT products, e-cigarettes or by speaking to your GP about prescription alternatives.
Alongside, or as an alternative to stop smoking aids, some smokers attempt to tackle withdrawal symptoms through changes to behaviour. This can be avoiding smoking triggers, changes to your routine, exercise and even just talking to someone.
So start your quit smoking journey this New Year. Who knows, when it comes to the end of the year you might be reflecting that this was the year you quit smoking.