The risks of our actions aren’t always obvious in the beginning stages however, there isn’t a shortage of professionals, friends, co-workers, policy makers, media and family that will point out the dangers. When I started smoking I didn’t give much thought to the future. All I cared about was fitting in at the time and the “buzz” it gave me. At this stage I was unable, unaware or unwilling to change and give up smoking. It took several years before I begun to have doubts about my actions, thus moving me from the pre-contemplation stage to the contemplation stage.
At this stage people basically are unwilling to change. They argue, interrupt, deny and ignore those that may be trying to help them recognize they have a problem. People won’t change their ways during this stage.
Change always starts with contemplation, to change or not to change? That is the question. You may be uncertain you want to stop smoking but you are considering the possibility. You begin to look at the pros and cons of quitting and determine if moving to the next stage is what you truly want to do, preparation.
Preparing to stop smoking is a critical stage in the whole process. This is where you put together your action plan on how and when you are going to stop. Here is short list of questions to help get you started:
- How has smoking kept you from doing some of the things you enjoy?
- What specific reasons do you have for wanting to quit?
- What are you going to do when cravings hit?
- What kind of support mechanisms are you going to set up?
- Are you going to quit cold turkey or use an OTC nicotine replacement product?
- Are you going to quit alone or join forces with a friend, family member or co-worker?
- How are you going to stay motivated?
- What types of situations, actions or people may pose risks?
- What are you going to do when/if you slip?
- How are you going to manage withdrawals?
- What are you going to do with the extra $150 a month you save by not buying cigarettes?
You get the point. There are a number of important questions that need answered before moving to the next step.
You guessed it, this is the day your plan to quit gets put into play – this is your quit day and subsequent days. Unless you never take this step you won’t stop smoking. Taking action requires every bit of will power, self-discipline and determination that you can put into play. The final stage is maintenance.
Now that you have stopped smoking you need to stay motivated, you need to keep pressing on. One moment of weakness can send you back to square one. As a side note many people who quit require several attempts but don’t use that as an excuse. I stopped and started countless times over a two year period and it affected my self-esteem, health and financial situation. Avoid people, places and things that trigger the craving to smoke until you are stronger. Stay empowered by going over your goals and the reasons why you quit in the first place. Use coping strategies to overcome sudden urges and managing stress.
Stopping smoking is obviously one of the best things you can do for your health and the health of others. Don’t let fear, denial or false beliefs stand in your way of achieving any and all goals you have for a better life.