How to stop smoking cold turkey
Quitting cold turkey means you give up smoking altogether by stopping abruptly. Instead of weaning yourself off slowly or with the help of nicotine replacement, going cold turkey means you don’t use any aids to help you stop smoking. This method requires a lot of dedication and commitment, and can be a significant challenge – but many ex-smokers believe it helps you to make the quickest adjustment, and unlike other methods, going cold turkey is totally free.
Today we’re taking a closer look at how to stop smoking cold turkey, and some strategies to help you if you’re looking to quit smoking and leave cigarettes behind.
Set a date
Whether you want to quit cold turkey or wean yourself off gradually, setting a date to quit is a smart strategy. Pick a date that’s a couple of weeks in the future and try if you can to time it when your calendar isn’t too busy; if you have a big project at work, exams at college or uni, or big events coming up in your life, your willpower will be sorely tested at a time where you’re already under stress. Choosing a date during a relatively quiet period means you can stay focused on your goal, and checking off each day that you’ve successfully gone without smoking will help you stay motivated to keep going.
Knowing yourself and why you’re quitting is an important step, and one that will ultimately help keep you focused when the temptation to smoke arises. Make a list of the reasons why you’re quitting and keep that list to hand. Whether it’s for your health, for your family, for your bank balance of for a combination of different reasons, remembering why you decided to do it in the first place can help spur you on.
Make sure you have a strategy – think about what your triggers are and what usually has you reaching for a cigarette. Do you smoke in times of stress, or are you a social smoker who tends to smoke only when they’ve been drinking? Understanding when and why you smoke means you can notice any situations where temptation might arise and also avoid putting yourself in those situations in the first place.
Finally, keep a journal to record how you’re feeling as you quit. It’s completely normal to go through feelings of withdrawal, and you might be feeling stressed, irritable and anxious as your body adjusts. Writing how you feel – both physically and emotionally – will help you keep on top of things and give you something to look back on on days that you’re struggling.
Many smokers use cigarettes to manage their stress – and when that’s not an option anymore, you’ll need a new way to deal with everyday stresses as well as the stress of quitting. Get lots of rest, try meditation or yoga, and keep as active as you can; exercise is a great way to deal with stress and tension in your body.
Try something new
You might be in need of distraction when you quit cold turkey, so line up an enjoyable project that you can dive into in the weeks after you quit. Finding a new and healthy addiction can help you channel your energy – find a new love for cooking, or take up a hobby with your hands like painting or woodworking.
Don’t be afraid of other methods
Quitting cold turkey has many advantages, but it’s also extremely difficult for most people. In fact, only between 3-10% of people can successfully do it.
If you smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day, going cold turkey may feel next to impossible for you, and there’s no shame in needing extra support to help you make the transition away from cigarettes.
If you’re finding it a struggle or have relapsed, don’t be discouraged. Nicotine replacement therapy, medications, behavioural therapy, cutting down or transitioning to e-cigarettes are all proven methods and one or a combination of these strategies may be what you need to help get you over the line.