Replace your smoking routine with new healthy habits.
Habits can transform your life. As discussed in the best-selling book, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, establishing new patterns in your life can lead to a more successful you. When it comes to smoking, replacing your usual routines around smoking with healthy habits is a helpful strategy for you to quit and stay quit! But first, in order to tap into this psychological process you need to understand how habits work.
The above image is of the habit loop, which is the process in which habits are formed and continued. Habits occur when there is a cue or trigger, followed by the response to that trigger, and then the reward you get for that response. A smoking example of the habit loop is a stressful work email, smoking a cigarette, and then feeling less stressed after the cigarette. To create new healthy habits, you need to disrupt your existing habit loop process. As you plan for your quit, think about your smoking triggers. Next, consider healthier ways you could respond to triggers and the resulting positive rewards.
Here are five ideas on how you can replace your smoking routine with healthy habits:
- Got nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms? Try some exercise! Physical activity can reduce cravings and symptoms while also help you keep off the post-quit weight gain. Go for a walk, pull weeds out of your garden, or do some at-home crunches. Whatever it is, get moving!
- Does being around other people smoking act as a trigger? Go to smokefree places. Remove yourself from situations where others are smoking and go to places where you can’t smoke. You’ll avoid this trigger as well as the harm you get from being around secondhand smoke.
- Cravings hitting you hard? Eat some fruits and vegetables. Yes, this is good advice always, but it’s especially good for people who quit smoking. The taste of these foods will help make cigarettes taste gross, which will help you fight cravings. Additionally, these foods are packed with disease-fighting nutrients that will help your body recover from the negative effects of smoking.
- Feeling stressed out? Take a few moments to meditate or try deep breathing. Last week we talked about how mindfulness can help you stress less. Try taking some time when you’re feeling overwhelmed to calm your mind and breathe deeply to relax.
- Need something to do to get your mind off cigarettes? Pick up a new hobby. Go into your yard and garden, play the harmonica, sing in the car, learn a new dance style… find something that gets you thinking about anything else besides smoking.
By avoiding triggers and creating new healthy habits that aren’t associated with smoking, you can prepare yourself for a successful quit! You’ll also soon find that the new rewards will far exceed your old ones.
What healthy habits are you going to try? Tell us on Twitter!