Skill Prescriptions and Tips to Stop Smoking

There are many simple things you can do to become smoke free.  Below you will find a few ideas to get you started. For more detailed instructions and worksheets to help you stop smoking, check out Chapter 6: Breathe Easy-Stop Smoking in Well to Do: A Guide to Take Charge, Set Goals, and Improve Your Health.

Switch Brands

There are so many images out there telling us that smoking is manly, sexy, exotic or cool.  Think about images of the Marlboro man.  This image would have you believe that smoking will make you tough.

These images make an impression.  Overtime, you start to believe that a certain brand makes you a certain kind of person.  Smoking can often be very tied to that image.  Shaking that image a bit can be the first step toward shaking the hold that smoking may have on you.

Try switching brands for a few days and see how you feel.  This exercise can help you realize how much you are influenced by marketing.  You might also notice that you feel physically different or even ill.  This reminds people how much of a physical influence tobacco has on the body and how processed and unnatural these tobacco products are.


Learn to Breathe for Relaxation

Many people feel that smoking is the only thing that helps them relax and manage stress.  That sounds funny, because nicotine is actually a stimulant.  It makes us feel anxious, tense and sometimes irritable.  The tricky thing about nicotine is that it takes a while to kick in.

What does everyone tell you when you ned to relax?  They usually say something like “Take a deep breath.”  What do you do when you are smoking?  You take a deep breath.  You also usually have to step away, often outside.  So, in order to smoke, you walk away from your normal surroundings and then take some time to breathe deeply.

It is likely this combination of movement, separation, and deep breathing that help you relax and change your mood.  Then, just as you are feeling good, you return to work, or life in general, and the nicotine kicks in and makes you feel anxious.  You a mistakenly think that it is returning to the environment that causes the stress response.

This is not to say that everything in life is stressful because you smoke, but it can undo the benefits of the great stress management routine (walking away, being outdoors, inhaling deeply) by using a stimulant that is known to cause anxiety.  Then people keep using nicotine hoping that it’s helping you cope with stress when it is actually making you feel worse.  A “smoke break” is the perfect stress reliever, if you remove the cigarette from the process.  We suggest that you take “breathing breaks” instead of smoke breaks.  Throughout the day, get in the habit of stepping away from what you are doing, getting outside if possible, and breathing deeply.  Notice whether the benefits of these practices last longer without the nicotine.


Identify Triggers

Do you only smoke when you are drinking alcohol?  Always smoke in the car on your drive to work?  Maybe you smoke when you are bored or right after you eat.  Maybe you only smoke on days ending in Y.  Most people will tell you that there are things that signal them to smoke.  These are your triggers, and may include things like stress, time of day, particular people or avoiding conflict.

What comes to mind for you? Can you point to certain times or situations that lead you to smoke or to smoke more?  If you want to stop smoking then you will need to take some time to think about these triggers.  You will also need to start making a plan to avoid these triggers.

Avoiding triggers can be a difficult process for many people because it often means avoiding favorite places and people until you no longer have the urge to smoke.  This is easier now because many states have indoor smoking bans that make it difficult for people to smoke in most public places.  In some cases, these laws even extend to outdoor locations.