May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. A day created by the World Health Organization in 1987 to ‘highlight the harmful effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products.’ Even though we know how harmful smoking can be, there are still around 4.6 million Canadians that smoke. Not to mention, tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable deaths in Canada.
But there’s hope! The majority of Canadians who smoke want to quit and over 60 per cent of Canadians who have ever been smokers have successfully quit. Meaning, you can quit too! To help get you started, we’ve put together some tips on how to kick the habit this year.
Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Deciding why you want to quit smoking is the first and one of the most important steps to take when you’re thinking about quitting. Ask yourself why you want to quit and write down a list of all the reasons. Not only will it help you take the first step but it will also keep you on track throughout your journey. There are hundreds of benefits to quit smoking, but here are a few of the main ones.
Health: It’s common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health. That alone should be one of the main reasons you want to stop. Smoking is linked to more than two dozen diseases and each day 100 Canadians die of a smoking-related illness.
Cost: A bad smoking habit isn’t only bad for your health but it also can hurt your wallet. According to Health Canada, if you smoke a pack a day you’re spending around $5,110.00 per year on cigarettes. See how much you’re spending using their calculator.
Quality of Life: Not only can quitting smoking reduce your risk of physical health issues but mental health issues as well. Studies have found that quitting smoking can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Make a Quit Smoking Timeline
You’ve decided to quit. That’s great! Now you need to choose your quit day. This is the day you’ll put your plan into action. Make sure the date isn’t too far in the future, that way you won’t have time to back out. Why not start on World No Tobacco Day?
Once you’ve chosen the day, mark it in your calendar and let your friends and family know. Not only will you get the support you need, but it will help keep you accountable. You can also start cutting back leading up to the day and get the resources you need to make it an easier transition.
Tips to Quit Smoking
No surprise here, smoking is addictive, so it’s easy to see why it can be so hard to quit. Don’t worry! There are lots of different tools and strategies that can help you on your quitting journey.
After smoking for a while, it can just become something that is part of your day-to-day life. Often the urge to smoke can be brought on by certain triggers. When you quit you’re going to find that in certain situations you feel the urge to smoke. Some common triggers for people are work breaks, stress, after a meal, driving or even when you’re bored. The best thing to do is to become aware of when those feelings usually come up and have something to distract yourself with or try to avoid them altogether.
Substitute Your Oral Fixation
Those cravings that come up when you’re quitting can be tough to get through, but there are lots of other things to keep your mouth busy besides cigarettes! Get some hard candy or gum that you can grab when you feel a craving come on. Raw fruits or veggies are another great option, or even drinking a glass of water can help bend those urges. There’s always the option of Nicotine replacement therapy such as Nicotine gum, lozenges or patches. Just make sure you talk to your doctor about those types of tools first.
Rest and Relaxation
One of the biggest triggers that can cause you to pick up a cigarette is stress. Giving yourself some rest and relaxation is a great way to curb those cravings and reward yourself for taking the initiative to quit. Try doing some meditation sessions or yoga to put your mind at ease. A study found that the breathing in yoga can stimulate “pulmonary stretch receptions” similar to the deep inhalations association with smoking’ and that it can help the process to quit smoking overall.
Getting active is not only great for your physical and mental health, it can help with your cravings to smoke. Studies found that even short periods of physical activity can reduce your urge to smoke and can reduce withdrawal symptoms. It also boosts your mood, helps you cope with stress and gives you more energy!
On your journey to be tobacco-free, you’re going to need support. The first place to turn to is your friends and family. Let them know you’re quitting, and keep them informed of what your triggers are so that they know when you may need some extra help. Check with your healthcare provider if they have resources you can access. Our LifeWorks plan takes a holistic approach to health and includes health coaching to keep you motivated and healthy including finding support to quit smoking.
No two smoking cessation journeys look the same. The most important thing is that you stop smoking in a way that’s healthy and fits your lifestyle - stick with it, you got this!