Together with our partners in the Reward Gateway Wellbeing Team, we look at the benefits of stopping smoking and share some tips to support you with quitting for good.
It's not new news that smoking is bad for your health. Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with people who have never smoked and smoking is also the largest preventable cause of cancer in the UK. So, make this year the year you quit and read some of the benefits and tips below.
Reasons to Quit Smoking Today:
- You'll be able to breathe easier and cough less.
- There is a good chance you'll live longer; half of all long-term smokers die early.
- You'll save money - people save around £3,000 a year on average by kicking the habit.
- Physical activity and exercise will become much easier and you'll feel fitter and healthier.
- Smoking can greatly age your skin, so stay looking youthful by stubbing out those cigarettes.
- You'll have a brighter smile as your teeth won't be getting stained from nicotine.
How to Manage Withdrawal
If you find quitting particularly hard, you may want to take more steps to manage your cravings. Medicines such as Champix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion) are available from the NHS with a prescription, and you can get nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) such as patches, lozenges or gum from most supermarkets and pharmacists. These can increase your chances of kicking the habit for good.
If You've Tried to Quit Before - Plan Ahead
When you decide to quit, spend some time planning ahead and think positive - if you've tried to quit before and not managed it, don't let that put you off. Think about what worked for you last time and about how you're going to stay on course this time. Also, think about what made you relapse and either try to avoid this or better prepare using some of the measures below.
- Prepare properly and approach your next attempt with a clear plan, this can make all the difference. Consider making a list of reasons to quit so you can look back and remind yourself if you start to wobble.
- Think ahead to times or situations where it might be difficult (a coffee or meal out with friends for example) and plan your actions in advance - consider changing your drink so that you don't associate having that drink with a cigarette.
- Try to make a list of things you can do during a craving. Cravings can last for around 5 minutes so think of some 5-minute strategies like making a hot drink, dance to a song on the radio or get outside for some fresh air.
- Keeping your hands and mouth busy can help, so consider getting lozenges or chewing gum. When you're out, try drinking from a straw to keep and holding your drink in the hand that usually holds a cigarette.
- If you miss holding a cigarette, there are handheld products like the inhalator or e-cigarettes that might help.
- Prevent future relapses. The risk of relapse is highest in the first few weeks after quitting. If you do give in to temptation, don't stop trying, it can take several attempts to quit smoking for good.
- Seek support. Download a free personal quit plan from the NHS and the NHS Smokefree app, which gives you access to an interactive four week programme that puts practical support, advice and encouragement right in the palm of your hand. Just search 'Smokefree' in Google Play or the Apple App Store.
Remember, if you feel like you are going to relapse:
- Remind yourself why you want to quit - then take control again. If you made a list of reasons to quick refer back to it.
- Talk to someone - call a friend or relative to get some support, or join an online forum like healthunlocked.com/quitsupport.
- Keep busy - download the Smokefree app or distract yourself by doing something you enjoy.
- Stay strong - think about those 5-minute strategies to keep yourself occupied during those crucial few minutes until the craving subsides.
- Change your environment - step outside, move to another room or go for a brisk walk to help clear your head and lungs.
- Talk to your GP - prescribed stop smoking medication or nicotine replacement therapies can help to manage your cravings.
- For more help and advice simply call the free NHS Smokefree Helpline on 0300 123 1014 or use their webchat service for free support from a trained adviser.
- Visit the NHS Quit Smoking page for more advice and information.
- Download a free personal quit plan from the NHS.
*Please note that this article is general signposting and is not a specific endorsement or recommendation by Bright Horizons. Should you utilise or download any resources, any exchange of data is solely between you and that provider - please note that the resources may be subject to their own terms and conditions and / or privacy notice. (As Bright Horizons has no control of the contents of the external resources, it can assume no responsibility or liability for these resources or the provider's use of any data you share with them.)