Heart disease is a largely preventable disease because many of the risk factors such as obesity, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of physical activity are within a person’s power to change.  Another controllable risk factor for heart disease is smoking.  If you are considering becoming a non-smoker, keep reading below for helpful ways to get started.

1. Identify your “why.”

It’s no secret that smoking is harmful to our health, but that’s not always reason enough to quit.  If you’re thinking of quitting, sit down and write out why you want to stop smoking.  Be as detailed as possible to get to the roots of what motivates you.  For example, instead of writing “I want to be healthier”, be more specific: “I want to be healthier because I love my grandchildren and want to be around to watch them grow up.” Visualize what your life would look like without cigarettes and write it down. Keep this paper close to you and review it anytime you are struggling with cravings.

2. Set a quit date.

Pick a specific date when you will no longer smoke cigarettes.  In the days or weeks leading up to the quit date, develop a plan to start slowly decreasing the number of cigarettes you smoke.  Also, take this time to talk to your doctor and discuss supports that you can put into place to help you wean off of cigarettes.

3. Identify your triggers.

Smoking addiction is much more than just a craving for nicotine. Often it becomes linked to the tasks people perform each day.  Many people will automatically smoke when they get into their car, finish a meal, or complete a chore.  In the days leading up to your quit date, take notice of your smoking routine, and come up with ways you can distract yourself.

4. Set up support.

Tell trusted friends about your plan to quit, and spend more time with non-smokers.  Research community support programs and consider smoking support hotlines.

5. Be kind to yourself.

It can take several quit attempts until you can finally call yourself a non-smoker.  If you stop smoking and then relapse, don’t be hard on yourself!  Instead, set a new quit date as soon as possible and reflect on what strategies worked during your past attempt and what challenges you faced.  Brainstorm ways to overcome the challenges you identified. If you use the opportunity as a learning experience, you will be even more successful the next time!

No matter how long you’ve been smoking, it’s not too late to quit.  You have the power to overcome your addiction, no matter how many times you have to try before you succeed. Take the time to become as prepared as possible before you quit, and refer back to the steps above to help you be more successful in your attempt.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

In good health,