Crucial steps that will help smokers kick the habit

Quitting smoking is never an easy task. Relapses can happen frequently, especially when ex-smokers are tempted by friend or the environment. The euphoric feeling of nicotine will always be embedded in a smoker's mind. But it is possible resist the urge, and make it stick. With strong motivation and support, anyone can achieve a smoke-free life.

First, understand why quitting is necessary

The key to quitting requires a strong resolve. Self-motivation is usually one of the key initial discussion pointers in cessation counseling.  Smokers need to be clear about their reason for quitting, and keep this top-of-mind throughout the journey.

Be firm, confident and follow through

It's always a good idea to set a quit date at the start, and then abide by it no matter what. The plan is to gradually cut down on the number of cigarettes as the date approaches, and stop completely on the day itself.

To minimize temptations, keep ashtrays out of sight and discard all unused cigarettes. There maybe lapses, especially in the fist few days when withdrawal symptoms are strongest but it's important to maintain an optimistic attitude. Reflect on the trigger that made you pick up that cigarette and re-set your intentions.

Know the Four Ds of Smoking Cessation

Distract yourself from having to smoke by keeping busy with work or activities you enjoy. Keep your hand occupied on the computer or other devices. Exercise is also a healthy distraction.

Drink more water or more juices keep your mouth busy

Delay lighting up new cigarettes. The most intense cravings usually just last for three to five minutes so it not impossible to wait it out. Deep breaths may also help relax your body. Take 10 slow, deep breathes and hold the last one while picturing a tranquil scene.

Gamer support

The journey to staying smoke-free need not be a lonely one. Setting and enforcing quit dates is actually best done with the support of a counselor, family members or friends. Plan activities with friends and try not be alone doing nothing for the few days just after quitting. Withdrawal efforts may take two or four weeks to disappear completely, and it's so much easier to have external support during this period.

Use quitting aids

Aids are not a must but they help user cope with or reduce cravings, so smokers can concentrate on adapting to a cigarette-free lifestyle. These aids include nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) like nicotine patches, gums and lozenges, and prescription medicines such as bupropion and varenicline. NRTs should only be used with a quit date in mind. They are not to be used indefinitely in case NRT dependence sets in.

What if you wish to help your loved ones quit?

Be supportive and encouraging by pointing out achievements even if it's small. For example, instead of looking at a relapse negatively, acknowledge how he or she had been smoke-free for a certain length of time. It is a remarkable feat considering the withdrawal symptoms.

In addition, offer alternative activities like taking a stroll instead of smoking during lunch breaks. Understand that withdrawal symptoms may a person irritable and moody so you may not be on the receiving end of a temper. But allow the grouchiness to pass and stand by your loved ones throughout the journey, even if it takes several attempts before they are successful.