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During the time you have been smoking, you have formed strong mental associations, linking having a cigarette with things, such as drinking coffee or alcohol, after a meal, or at a specific event. Those associations and learned behaviors have been practiced thousands of times, making them almost automatic. At this stage in the quit process, a deliberate effort to break those associations is critical to your success. Spend some time thinking of substitutions or distractions for the smoking part. For example, if you have a strong “coffee and cigarette in the morning” link, eat breakfast in a different place, or read something interesting with your coffee. Remember to limit or change those activities which may cause a craving.

Exercise regularly and moderately. Regular exercise helps tremendously, as it reinforces your decision to lead a healthier lifestyle. 

  • Join a gym or fitness class - aerobic or yoga…try something new;
  • Go outside, or inside if possible, during the day and take a quick power walk – 10 to 15 minutes; or
  • Walk with a buddy in the evening (at least 2 hours prior to bedtime). 

Quitting smoking is all about changing rituals and routines. Don’t leave it up to chance! If you do…it won’t happen. Write it in your calendar. Place colored stickies in your car, office, kitchen and bathroom. Make scheduled exercise as important in your daily life as food and sleep 

Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. This isreally, really important! If you want to make your intake of water more fun, try using 2/3 water and 1/3 fruit juice! Also, try herbal teas or other types of low sugar drinks. Limit your intake of coffee, soft drinks, or alcohol – as they are strongly aligned with smoking and can increase your urge to smoke! 

Exercise (of course).Take a leisurely stroll.Focus your attention on your breathing.Listen to relaxing music.Play with your dog.Drive somewhere beautiful.Learn progressive muscle relaxation.Stop and look out the window – really look.Go to bed a little earlier.Do one thing at a time.Stand up and do some stretching.Call up an old friend.Sing. 

Ask for support


Here are some ways to ask your family, friends, and co-workers for support and explain your needs:

“Please be patient with me. I may be irritable, sleepy, or anxious, especially in my first few days as a non-smoker. These kinds of things are typical responses to my withdrawal from nicotine. Don’t worry, it will get better soon.”

“Cheer me on. Say things like…’I know you can do this’ or ‘Stay with it’”.

“Support me if I choose to avoid a situation. If I want to skip going to a party because I know people will be smoking…please understand”.

“Ask me ‘How are you doing?’”.

“Keep supporting me, even if I slip. If I do have a cigarette, please let me know that you’ll be there to support me when I’m ready to try

Here are some easy things you can do:

  • Brush your teeth several times a day with a new toothpaste. The clean feeling in your mouth reinforces your motivation to experience a cleaner, healthier you!
  • Look for things to keep your mouth busy – eat carrots, celery, broccoli pieces, unsalted nuts or popcorn, or chew sugar-free gum. Prepare veggies for several days and store in the refrigerator.
  • Look for things to keep your hands busy – try creative doodling, crossword puzzles, hold a pencil or pen in your hand, write in your journal, or make a phone call.

Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Many smokers mistakenly try to quit without addressing their physical withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement therapies are both safe and effective and roughly double your chance of becoming a non-smoker. Nicotine patches, applied once per day, distribute a slow, consistent dose of nicotine throughout the bloodstream. Research has shown that using a second type of medication as a back-up for potential cravings, such as nicotine gum, lozenges, or an inhaler is very effective. Zyban, which is an antidepressant found to alleviate symptoms, can also be used in conjunction with other medications. Researchers have advised using these products for more than just a few weeks. Many quitters need to use them for several months. Be a smart quitter…take advantage of all of the tools out there to help you! Before making a decision, though, check in with your doctor.

Focus on making change. Many of our daily activities are based on ritual. We make ritualistic choices everyday, such as what clothes we wear, what type of foods we eat, when we smoke, etc. These choices are based on what we know and feel comfortable with, reinforcing them as accepted daily rituals. Most of the time, we perform these things, including smoking cigarettes, without really thinking. It takes only 25 days for the brain to form the neural connections required to make a new behavior a habit. Think about it. If you substituted one healthy behavior, i.e. exercising, for an unhealthy behavior, i.e. smoking, it would only take 25 days to incorporate this new, more beneficial, behavior into your life! 

Learn and practice how to breathe correctly. To breathe is our most natural instinct. However, it is something that many of us have never learned, or have forgotten, how to do properly. The way we breathe – rapidly or slowly, shallowly or deeply, smoothly or abruptly – is a measure of our physical and emotional wellbeing. It is also one of the first indicators that we are experiencing stress! Take the time to learn, or relearn, how to get the most benefit from deep breathing, this most fundamental interaction with your world. Deep diaphragmatic breathing involves inhaling downward into the belly, using your total lung capacity. When you breathe in, you should see both your abdomen and chest rise, rather than just the upper chest. This process releases endorphins, helping you deal with life stressors and allowing you to refocus your thoughts and energies to a healthier place. Take a look at the Freedom From Smoking Online Deep Breathing site Deep Breathing

to learn how you can experience the relaxation and feeling of calm from breathing properly. Try not to force the process, just keep practicing. This is different for you. Be patient with yourself!  

Do you smoke to calm down, when you are angry, when you are depressed, or when you are hungry? As we all know, life is full of times of emotional or physical discomfort. Hopefully, we have learned some quick strategies to take care of our symptoms. But, during the quit process, we really need to practice effective ways to work through troublesome times, managing our feelings, our thoughts, and our physical well being. Learn relaxation techniques that are a good fit for you. Research some new ways to cope with feelings of anger and everyday stressors. These strategies can be used throughout your life. You might even be tempted to teach others what has worked for you!


Here are some steps former smokers have used with great success:

  • Notice the craving. Don’t ignore, suppress, or fight it.
  • Stop and think about it. Take a moment to experience the craving.
  • Make a conscious choice not to smoke. This is critical. It’s all about continuing to think it through.
  • Wait. The urge will pass after a few minutes…really!
  • Find something else to do…something that says “I care about my health.”
  • Congratulate yourself each time you have an urge to smoke and choose not to

Worried about gaining weight when you become a non-smoker?

Here are some helpful ideas:

  • Drink something before meals – a cup of hot tea, glass of water, etc. - 10 to 20 minutes before eating.
  • Eat a bowl of salad, or a small handful of raw almonds or peanuts 30 minutes before your meal - slowly. An amazing way to keep yourself from eating too much! Great idea for everyone.
  • Eat to “sustain life”, not to “become full.” Before each bite, ask yourself, “Is this food going to help me remain healthy?”
  • Eat low-fat foods that take time to chew. Try carrots, plain popcorn, apples, rice cakes. Eat everything slowly…really much slower than usual.
  • Avoid high-fat food. Choose low-fat or nonfat versions of milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Avoid butter on your bread. Try to enjoy just the flavor and texture of the bread.
  • Eat only when you are hungry…not when you need something to do!! The urge to eat, just like the urge to smoke, will pass if you wait or do something else.
  • Don’t forget to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily – drink rather than sip!
  • Don’t linger at the table. When you have finished your meal, get up and take a walk.

Most importantly, pay attention to what you are doing. Keep thinking!! This is such a great opportunity to make positive change in your life. 

E X E R C I S E !!!!! Don’t forget this critical piece on your road to wellness. Regular, scheduled exercise is the only way to reprogram all of our systems…muscular, circulatory, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and many others to engage in the new, healthier you! Exercise is a reinforcement of what your brain is doing to motivate and prepare you to quit smoking. Try 20 to 30 minutes a day at first. If you find that difficult, just do 5 to 10 minutes of aerobic, stretching, or floor exercises twice a day. Doing even 5 minutes helps to inform your brain that you are now engaging in a different way of being.

If you need additional support, contact 1 800 QUIT NOW (1 800 784 8669). This is a national quit line for smokers at any stage of the change process. Counselors are available to provide guidance and support to help you become a non-smoker! And…research shows that telephone counseling is extremely effective in helping us quit!

Work on ridding yourself of negative self-talk. Sometimes we engage in self-talk that sabotages our abilitiy to change habits, attitudes, motivation, or situations. Pay attention to what you are saying to yourself, recognizing the negative messages. Take some time to make some minor changes in these messages, finding more positive, affirming messages. For example, here are some positive messages you may choose to say to yourselfthree or four times a day for a few weeks: 

·         I do not smoke. My lungs are strong and healthy. I am able to breathe deeply and fully.

·         Taking care of myself physically is important to me. I like keeping myself fit and feeling good.

·         I am a non-smoker and am proud of myself.

·         When I see a cigarette, or even think of one, I automatically hear the words, “I do not smoke” – and I don’t!

·         I really enjoy breathing clean fresh air, being healthy, and being in complete control of my body and my mind.

·         I have no habits which control or influence me in any harmful way. I am in control of myself and everything I do. I always do what is best for me and my future.

·         Being a non-smoker is easy for me. After all, I was born that way – and it is the natural thing for me to do.

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right”. Henry Ford

 It’s all about “paying attention.” It’s much easier to make the needed changes in our lives when we “keep thinking…keep paying attention.”

Yes, you are so right. This is quite a project!

  • Remind yourself of the reasons why you are quitting smoking.
  • Remind yourself to exercise, aerobic, strength training, yoga, etc.
  • Remind yourself of things you can use to take your attention away from cravings.
  • Remind yourself of your confidence in your ability to be a non-smoker… encouraging statements to yourself!

Why is physical exercise so important?


Because trauma (stress) is stored in the body. Unless we do something to disperse stress (such as “move”), it finds a resting place somewhere in the body, and our health suffers tremendously.

This is just one of several meaningful changes you are making in your daily life.



Some interesting quotes from others!

“I found that a lot of my friends have quit smoking, too. They had some pretty good tips for me.” Louis, age 27

“In the past, I really didn’t think it through. I realized that I need to plan what to do in place of smoking. I do have choices.” Al, age 64

“Exercise helped me get my mind off of smoking. Plus, it made me feel better!”

Yvette, age 43

“Quitting is easy. It’s staying off that’s the hard part. It really isn’t a question of will power. There are certain skills you can learn that can help you quit. If you practice and persevere, you can do it. I know…I did it!!” Harold, age 58 

The connection between our minds and our bodies has been shown to be significant. We now understand that we cannot afford to expend much energy on negative thoughts and emotions. Our health, and sometimes our life, depends on managing how we choose to interpret people and events (with the emphasis on having “choice”).

“Does Optimism Equal Better Health?”

Research shows that positive thinking and emotions enhance health by:

  • Lowering production of the stress hormone “cortisol”
  • Better immune function
  • Reducing the risk of chronic diseases
  • Greater feeling of being able to affect your future

The Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine found that “optimistic men have less than half the risk of heart disease than pessimistic men.”

Optimism is partially “learned”…so start practicing!!!

Plan the details of your life. How many times have you found yourself feeling stressed and reaching for a cigarette because things didn’t go as you thought they would? If you are a good planner, great. You have an advantage over those who are more impulsive and find planning to be tedious. However, the stress that comes from lack of planning and communicating can be disastrous for some, and a significant trigger for smoking a cigarette. Maybe this is a good time to work on this part of your life, not just to reduce stress induced smoking, but also to enhance your organizational and communication skills, improving your work life, your social life and your inner self!

Close All of Your “Back Doors”

The fear of quitting – of really never having another cigarette – make some people leave a “back door” open as an excuse for returning to smoking. Some examples of back doors are:

“I’ll quit smoking as long as I don’t gain more than ten pounds,”


“I’ll stop smoking as long as I don’t have to deal with any big crises.” 

In addition to weight and crises, some other back doors are:

  • Inability to manage “crabbiness”
  • A minor relapse – “I’ve failed, so I might as well stop punishing myself.”
  • Family conflicts
  • Work pressure
  • Someone questioning your commitment

Before quitting, close your “back doors”. Decide what you are going to do about each barrier and each roadblock that may hold you back. Say to yourself:

“I’m going to stop smoking while I practice other stress management techniques,” or

“I’m going to stop smoking because I have learned other things to do with my hands instead of smoking.”

Keep thinking.

Take advantage of the healing properties of music. During the quit process, use music to relax when you are feeling stressed or irritable, making selections which will promote a state of harmony and health. If we really listen, not just hear the sounds, our bodies adjust to the pace, rhythm, or pulse of the music. Listening to music forms healing connections between the mind, body, and spirit, and is another means of reinforcing your commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Research has found that listening to music from our adolescence and young adulthood, some of our favorites, can be very engaging…and can be a real distraction from thinking about smoking!!! Try it during your trigger times!

Another Reminder about Food and Stress

During the quit process, you may find that in order to manage the cravings and the stress that is produced, food seems to be a possible alternative. Don’t forget…

Stress can cause cravings for unhealthy foods, such as


So…here are some “Great Ideas”…

  • When you are tempted, say to yourself outloud, “Stop It!”
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Choose low-fat, high-fiber foods.
  • Eat more vegetables, whole grains and beans.
  • Reduce caffeine, sugar and alcohol.
  • Establish and stick to a regular meal schedule.
  • (This is my favorite) Eat “calmly.”

Evaluate and rethink your relationship with food (as you continue to evaluate your relationship with cigarettes). Are you eating to “SUSTAIN LIFE” … or to treat your cravings for nicotine, emotional problems, or maybe for “entertainment?”

A great book:

Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food. By Susan Albers, Psy.D.

The Power of Humor

 Becoming a non-smoker is truly an adventure, to say the least! Removing nicotine from your system, and the thoughts and behaviors associated with smoking, may cause you to be irritable or “grouchy” at times. There is something you can replace these thoughts and behaviors with, so Go Ahead and Laugh!! 

Here are some easy ways to bring humor and laughter into your life experience:

  • Remind yourself to have fun – It’s OK to be silly once in a while.
  • Figure out what makes you laugh – Then go out and look for those things.
  • Start a humor library – Clip funny cartoons, jokes, calendars, dvd's . Post humorous cartoons where you know they will trigger a good laugh. Add a funny cd or comedy station to your daily commute. Write down jokes that make you laugh.
  • Laugh with others – Spend time with others who help you see the brighter side of life.
  • Increase your exposure to comedy - Rent or go to a funny movie – Watch funny sitcoms or read jokebooks.
  • Laugh at yourself – Try thinking of an embarrassing story about yourself and share it.
  • Take a 5 to 10 minute humor break everyday – Read jokes or listen to a funny tape.

Remember that laughter, or just placing a smile on your face, will go a long way toward helping you feel better about life and hopeful about your ability to become a non-smoker.

Withdrawal: How You May Feel When You Quit

Here are some common feelings/symptoms you might experience as your body adjusts to not having nicotine:

  • Feeling depressed
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Getting “cranky”, frustrated or angry
  • Feeling anxious, nervous or restless
  • Having trouble thinking clearly
  • Feeling hungry or gaining weight

Not everyone has feelings of withdrawal. You may have one or many of these symptoms and they may last for different amounts of time. So…be patient with yourself and keep thinking about what your new choices are in your recovery from nicotine dependence.

Great Ideas to Help Me Sleep

  • Unwind for at least 1 hour before going to bed – dim the lights, stay away from TV shows, internet or reading that will overstimulate the brain.
  • No caffeine after 2 p.m. (coffee, tea or other caffeinated drinks). Caffeine can stay in the system for 6 to 7 hours!
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Don’t eat foods that will overengage the digestive system prior to bedtime.
  • Do relaxation and/or stretching before bed.
  • Practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing before and while in bed.
  • Regular aerobic exercise helps with going to sleep…and deepens sleep.
  • Be aware of individual sleep requirements…we’re all different.

We keep hearing about Yoga’s many benefits to the mind and body. Yoga centers are popping up all over our communities. Try to attend several classes to get the basics and then develop your own private “practice” of Yoga in your home! Also, an instructional DVD is a great way to guide you through your practice. Even if you just do six postures…that’s great! No need to be an expert.

About Yoga

  • An estimated 25,000,000 people in the U.S. practice Yoga (and growing!).
  • Easy for beginners and people of all ages
  • A philosophy – not a religion
  • Set of physical postures (asanas) and sequences designed to align skin, muscles and bones
  • Detoxification of the entire body
  • Brings attention to the breath
  • Increases flexibility
  • Massages ALL organs of the body
  • Increases lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons
  • Transforming physically, mentally and spiritually

Assertive Responses

We often smoke when we feel frustrated… or when others treat us badly. Nicotine helps to reduce that frustration. One way to manage these feelings, once you have removed nicotine from your life, is to practice “assertive responses” when you feel frustrated. Assertive responses are positive, direct, yet controlled ways you can use to deal with aggravating situations. Expressing your feelings, rather than attacking others or losing control helps you keep your self-respect and remain focused on your own needs and perceptions. Rather than an aggressive, hostile response or a passive “do nothing” response, you can use a calm, controlled way of expressing your feelings, such as, “Excuse me. I see that you’re in a hurry, but I’m in a hurry, too. All of us have been waiting in this line for quite a while and I’d appreciate it if could find your place in the line, too.” Approach each situation directly, using a neutral, calm tone of voice, while being open and honest. Reducing anxiety and the feelings of resentment and stress can go a long way toward your full recovery from nicotine addiction. 

This may take some practice, but so did learning to smoke! Once mastered, you will find you have more control over every area of your life!!

More tips to remember…

  • Brush your teeth with a refreshing toothpaste four to five times per day (you won’t want to exchange that clean, fresh taste for cigarette tastes).
  • Do deep diaphragmatic breathing…way down into the abdomen on the inbreath, and slow on the outbreath.
  • DRINK LOTS OF WATER…it will help flush the nicotine and
  • other chemicals out of your body, plus it can help reduce
  • cravings by fulfilling the "oral desires" that you may have.
  • Exercise.
  • When cravings come, use one of your proven distractions to get you through.
  • Eat mindfully.
  • Keep thinking.

Place reminder notes (“stickies”) everywhere, of things you want to remember, such as brush teeth, breathe deeply, drink water, exercise, find a distraction and keep thinking.

Don’t forget…if you need additional support, contact

1 800 QUIT NOW

(1 800 784 8669). 

This is a national quit line for smokers at any stage of the change process. Counselors are available to provide guidance and support to help you

become and remain a non-smoker!

Keep saying to yourself…

”I am able to make positive change in my life.”

Tell your friends, family and coworkers about your quit process and your established “quit date.” Even tell those people whom you are not going to look to for support. The more people around you that know you are quitting, the less you will want to give in to temptation. Really…unknowingly, without their saying a word…they hold us accountable to do what we said we were going to do… quit smoking. Also, many people would be happy to give you the encouragement you need to keep you focused. 

But…there may be some that doubt your seriousness and say things which are not helpful, such as, “Oh sure! You’ve stopped many times.” So here’s what you say…

“Sure, I went back to smoking before. But doctors say most quitters need to try a few times before they quit for good, so I guess I was ‘practicing’ before.”

“Well, you can be skeptical, but I would really like it if you would give me some encouragement.”


“Yes, but this time I’m training for the Olympics and my coach won’t let me smoke!”

A little humor and positive self-talk gets us through some really tough times. Quitting smoking is one of the toughest, but YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Feeling a Little Less Confident in Your Quit Program

Than You Would Like?

Here’s some positive “Self-Talk” to try. Encouraging ourselves, using positive, meaningful scripts, helps get us through different kinds of life stressors, including becoming a non-smoker!

“I know that I can accomplish anything I choose, and I refuse to let anything negative hold me back or stand in my way.”

            “I am not afraid of anything or anyone. I have strength, power, conviction and confidence! I like challenges and I meet them head on, face to face…today especially!”

“I have a lot of energy and I am very alive! I enjoy life and I can tell it, and so can others. I keep myself up, looking ahead and liking it!”

            “I am on top of the world and I’m going for it! I have a clear picture in my mind of what I want. I can see it in front of me. I know what I want and I know how to get it. I know that it’s all up to me and I know I can do it!”A Reminder…This works for every type of “behavioral change” in life!!

Go to an office supply store and buy lots of brightly colored sticky pads. Use them to post reminders all around you…your office, kitchen, bathroom mirror, bedroom, car, etc. 

  • Remind yourself of the reasons why you are quitting smoking.
  • Remind yourself to exercise, aerobic, strength training, yoga, etc.
  • Remind yourself of things you can use to take your attention away from cravings.
  • Remind yourself of your confidence in your ability to be a non-smoker… encouraging statements to yourself!

Do Not Skip Meals

When you were smoking, each puff of nicotine released stored fats and sugars into your bloodstream. It allowed you to skip meals without experiencing wild blood-sugar swing symptoms, such as an inability to concentrate or hunger related anxieties. Don't add needless symptoms to your withdrawal from nicotine, but instead learn to spread your normal daily calorie intake out more evenly over the entire day. Instead of giving in and eating more food, eat less food more often!

Two Things to do more of...

Drink Water and Laugh

(But, of course, not at the same time!)

Who are you now??

Go back into the recesses of your mind and remember the “you” who didn't smoke. Think of the “you” who had never been scarred by inhaling a cigarette. Did you feel more energetic? Were you more physically active?

Chances are you'll have a hard time remembering just how you felt before you were a smoker, because for most it was many years ago. If this is the case, talk to others that have quit and find out what keeps them smoke free. 

Purposefully, redefine your “who”.

“You” are different now…even better than before!

Keep reading and practicing what works for you. Don’t forget, knowledge is power. When you feel like you want to reach for a cigarette, get into your car and buy cigarettes, or ask for one…STOP and THINK. Give yourself a few minutes, do something else and the craving will subside. Quitting smoking is not easy, but many people have been successful in quitting by using what they know to become and remain smoke free!

Keep repeating silently and out loud –

“I am making positive change in my life”

“I am making positive change in my life”

“I am making positive change in my life”


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