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Proven Strategies to Quit Smoking

When You're Ready to Get Serious

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Surviving Without Smoke: Month 1

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After You Quit Smoking continued...

Instead of sabotaging yourself, reward yourself every time you succeed. Many people recommend rewards after the first week or two of quitting, but, Arvon says, why wait that long? Give yourself small rewards for every single day you make it through the first two weeks, and bigger ones at the end of week one and week two.

Small Rewards:

  • A new book, DVD, or video game.
  • A dozen golf balls.
  • New earrings.
  • A manicure (for your hands that will look so much more attractive without a cigarette in them).
  • A box of expensive, artisan chocolates. To avoid “quitter’s weight gain,” indulge in just one per evening.

Bigger Rewards:

  • A fancy dinner out.
  • Go to a sports event or concert.
  • Have your car detailed.
  • An evening at the movies or theater.
  • A full-body massage and facial.
  • A weekend away.

You know the things that motivate you. Dole them out to yourself for every day you don’t put a cigarette in your mouth.

Finally, says Arvon, you have to learn to overcome the learned ways of thinking that lead you to pick up a cigarette. “A lot of times, we smoke when we’re feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. When that feeling comes on, stop and think about why you’re feeling that way.”

For example, if you’ve missed a deadline at work, you may fear getting in trouble with your boss and losing your job. A smoker will think, “I need a cigarette!” But you’re not a smoker anymore. So instead of grabbing a cigarette, argue with yourself. Be your own devil’s advocate and dispute your irrational thoughts. “I’m going to lose my job!” “No, you’re not. You’ve done a lot of good work and your boss won’t fire you for one missed deadline.” Keep up that argument until the immediate feeling of stress or depression passes and you aren’t feeling that intense need to run out for a smoke.

“The hardest part of quitting is the first two weeks,” says Arvon. “We call the first week after quitting ‘Hell Week.’ The second week is ‘Heck Week.’ After that, it gets easier. The urges don’t go away, but most of them are lighter and you can get through them.”

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Reviewed on January 21, 2011
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