However, everyone knows that those first days are the toughest, so to help you get through them, we have 21 tips to quit smoking to help you cope with the worst of the nicotine cravings. Read on and start your stop smoking journey today!
1. Find Your Reasons
The first thing you should always do before you start your stop smoking journey is to list out your reasons for quitting. Your list can include getting healthier, saving money, smelling better, or any of the other countless benefits of quitting smoking.
Your list can serve two purposes: One, to remind you why you’re quitting when you’re finding it difficult; and two, to allow you to keep a running total of the benefits. The first is pretty self-explanatory, giving you a chance to reassert your thinking when the nicotine leaving your body is telling you to smoke. The second can help reinforce and remind you with a running total of the day-to-day benefits—even when it doesn’t feel that way!
2. Set the Date
Once you’ve listed out your reasons for quitting, our next giving up smoking tip is simple—set a date and stick to it. It’s usually best to plan no more than a week or two ahead so that you don’t lose momentum or motivation once you’ve made the decision.
You can write the date at the top of your list and plan something on that day to help keep your mind off the worst of the cravings. Additionally, tell everyone you know that this is the date you plan to quit. This allows those closest to you to also be prepared and can certainly help avoid those tricky situations where other smokers might offer you a cigarette.
3. Get Prepared
Preparing for quitting can be both practical and symbolic, and both are important tips to help you stop smoking. Prepare mentally for your quit date and envisage what a non-smoking life might look like. Learn about nicotine addiction and the health issues smoking causes. Plan for cravings and how you might deal with them.
Perhaps the most important part of getting prepared, however, is to begin dismantling all the things that help support your smoking. Throw away ashtrays and lighters, put up no smoking signs in places you regularly inhabit, and of course, ensure there’s no tobacco in the house (or your office desk!). Any visual reminders, both positive and negative, can help you to overcome your habit.
4. Stay in the Present
As nicotine leaves your body it can begin to play tricks on the mind. In as little as 20 minutes after you stub out your last cigarette, you may start to craving nicotine, and this can make you think that you will never feel good again without lighting up. However, by focussing on the present, rather than the future, you can remind yourself that this too shall pass.
Taking each day as it comes and using your list to remind yourself of the reasons you quit in the first place can really help. Don’t think about the future, stay focussed on dealing with each craving as it comes and rest assured that they will become less intense the longer you refrain from smoking.
5. Eat Well
As your body begins to flush out the thousands of harmful chemicals contained in cigarettes, ensuring you eat well is more important now than ever. A healthy diet will support your body as it recovers, and ensuring you have a high-quality fuel source can help you feel stronger and healthier.
Additionally, there are plenty of reports that quitting smoking can cause you to gain weight. This is because cigarettes tend to suppress your appetite, so you may be feeling hungrier the longer you don’t smoke. A healthy diet can help you to mitigate any potential weight gain caused by this.
6. Take a Walk
Walking, and in fact any exercise, has been shown to help reduce cravings in countless studies. Even short periods of physical activity may help for up to 50 minutes after you have exercised, and something simple such as taking a walk requires no planning or equipment.
If you take up a sport or something more athletic, the benefits can also help you avoid a smoking relapse. Put simply, the healthier you become the less likely you are to want to ruin that by smoking a cigarette.
7. Stay Motivated
Staying motivated along your journey is among the most important tips to help you stop smoking. Always refer back to your list when you are craving a cigarette, focus on the positive changes in your life and don’t dwell on failed attempts to quit in the past, be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up with negative thoughts.
All of these things can help keep you motivated on your goal to quit, however, they are often easier said than done. Try to reframe negative thinking or simply distract yourself when negative thoughts start entering your mind. That way you’ll will be better able to ignore the worst of the cravings and focus on a smoke free future.
8. Try Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
NRT can help you deal with the worst cravings as you quit, allowing even the heaviest smokers to kick the habit. In fact, some studies show that nicotine replacement therapy can double your chances of quitting for good when compared to willpower alone.
There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing your NRT method, with gum or patches being common choices, however, other methods such as inhalators can also give you something to do with your hands. Speak to your local pharmacist or the NHS for more information on how NRT can help you beat cravings.
9. Lean on Your Loved Ones
Your family and friends can be a huge source of support, strength, and motivation—make sure you use it to your advantage! Whether it’s a quick chat to distract you from the worst cravings or a full-on support session to help remind you of why you are quitting, you can trust your loved ones to give you the support you need.
One great giving up smoking tip is to simply prepare those closest to you for your quit date. This ensures they can give you the space and patience you need to work through those first few critical hours or days.
10. Keep Your Hands Busy
Having something to do with your hands is an often overlooked but important stop smoking tip. While smoking, your hands are kept busy, whether lighting up a cigarette and bringing it to your mouth or rolling cigarettes. Once you quit, you may find yourself more restless and wondering why you can’t keep your hands still!
NRT inhalators are one way to do this, but a pen, pencil or paper straw are equally effective. Additionally, try a toy, puzzle, or handheld computer game when the cravings are particularly intense.
11. Avoid Alcohol
Drinking alcohol is a trigger for many smokers, as smoking and drinking are often inextricably linked. Avoiding this trigger during your first few weeks of quitting is an effective tip to stop smoking, allowing you to break the association and stay on track.
In addition to this, drinking may loosen your resolve and leave you open to thinking that just one cigarette won’t hurt. Unfortunately, however, there’s no such thing as just one cigarette, as the addictive nature of nicotine will leave you wanting more.
12. Avoid Other Smokers
When you first quit, the smell of other people’s cigarettes is a like a beacon—you could probably find one from a mile away! Avoiding other smokers or situations where you know other people will be smoking is a great tip to help you quit smoking.
Again, this is especially important during the first few weeks of your stop smoking journey, giving you the chance to avoid temptation as you work through the worst of the cravings. So, whether it’s the pub or the smoking area at work, stay away for now.
13. Clean Your House
As we’ve mentioned, physical activity is a great way to beat cravings, but it doesn’t have to be a full-on marathon to be effective. Something as simple as cleaning your house can help distract you while also bring a few other benefits too.
A clean house can help you feel more positive, allowing you to turn over a new leaf as you progress on your stop smoking journey. It can also be a great way to ensure you’ve really thrown out all that smoking paraphernalia and those hidden cigarettes. Finally, cleaning your house (properly) will get your heart pumping and blood flowing, helping you to beat the worst cravings.
14. Get Meditative
Numerous studies  have shown that meditation and mindfulness are useful tools when dealing with addiction. They can help take you out of the moment and allow you to envisage a smoke-free future, as well as focus on positive changes and relieve anxiety.
Tips to quit smoking include; deep breathing exercises and visualization techniques that allow you to deal with the stress caused by the nicotine leaving your body; repeating stop smoking mantras that can help you stay positive; and using guided meditation videos specifically aimed at smokers trying to quit.
15. Try Something New
A change is as good as a holiday, and any holiday from those first few weeks of craving nicotine is a great tip to stop smoking. Try taking up a new hobby or interest to keep your mind off smoking and focussed on the task at hand, take up a new sport with friends or on your own, change your surroundings and get out of the house as much as possible.
Trying something new is a really good way to stop you fixating on smoking and relieve those nicotine cravings, and it can also help you to fill the time you would usually spend smoking.
16. Take a Break
Smokers report that they light up when they want to relax. However, nicotine often has the opposite effect, raising blood pressure and heart rate to make you even more stressed or anxious. When you are quitting, why not try some real relaxation instead.
You can listen to music, read, take up a new hobby or even go for a long hike. However, one of our top tips for quitting smoking is to treat yourself to a massage or spa day. The extra pampering can really help.
17. Stretch it Out
The simple act of stretching when you’re feeling like you need to smoke can work wonders. Particularly if you’re having trouble concentrating at work, a simple yoga exercise can help refocus your mind and distract you from the worst cravings.
Additionally, stretching can help improve your mood and provide you with more energy, helping you to feel stronger and ready to face the rest of the day and manage stress levels. There are plenty of simple exercises you can do, even some which you can practice at your office desk.
18. Use the 4 Ds
The four Ds can be really useful when you’re quitting, and they’re easy to remember.
- Distract – Keep your hands busy with puzzles or games. Use healthy snacks to keep your mouth busy and distract yourself with a hobby.
- Delay – If you feel the urge to smoke simply delay lighting up for as long as you can. The cravings will pass and you will still be smoke free.
- Deep Breathing – Concentrate on your body and focus on your breathing when cravings are their strongest.
- Drink Water – Slowly drink a glass of water to keep both your hands and mouth busy when you are craving a cigarette.
19. Get Professional Support
Professional support can be a lifesaver on your stop smoking journey, providing you with advice and reminding you of the benefits of quitting. Joining a stop smoking support group is a good tip to help you stop smoking, as sharing your experiences with others going through the same thing can help you feel less alone.
The NHS has plenty of information on how to do this, as well as a useful NHS Smokefree app that can help you track your progress give you daily support.
20. Keep a Journal
One way to help you deal with the worst cravings and keep you motivated along your journey is to keep a journal of how you are feeling. This can be cathartic and allows you to express your feelings without constantly relying on those closet to you to be a good listener.
Even better than that, you can record how much money you are saving each day, as well as keep a note of how your health is improving as the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into years.
21. Don’t Quit Quitting
Finally, one of the best giving up smoking tips we can give is to simply don’t quit quitting. Even on your darkest days, simply sticking to your resolution and staying strong is key to giving up for good. Additionally, however, this can also be useful in case you relapse, allowing you to forgive yourself for the error and remind you that you are STILL quitting.
Don’t get drawn into the trap of “one cigarette”, as the longer you keep nicotine out of your body the easier it will be to stay nicotine free. Remember, quitting smoking is a journey, and you should always try to renew your resolve along your path!
For more information on how NRT can help you quit smoking for good, speak to your local pharmacist or contact the NHS stop smoking support line. Additionally, read our stop smoking stories and get inspired by others who have quit for good!