Written by Andrea Siomos, a social worker at Sunnybrook's Schulich Heart Centre and a member of the Smoking Cessation Team.
If you are reading this, chances are you are thinking about quitting smoking, or you'd like to find ways to help a loved one quit. And if so, congratulations on taking this first step!
Quitting smoking is a journey, not an event. It can take time and require lots of support from family, friends or your healthcare provider.
- Within one year of quitting smoking, your added risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half than that of a smoker.
- Within five years, your risk of having a stroke will be nearly the same as a non-smoker.
- Within 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.
- Within 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease will be similar to that of a non-smoker.
- Almost immediately after quitting, your body sees positive changes.
So, again with help from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, here are some tips to help you become smoke-free:
What's your trigger?
Now that you are thinking about quitting, try to notice when in your day you smoke. Is it after your turn on the coffee pot? When you are waiting for the bus? When you are stuck in traffic? Or after that daily meeting with your boss? Figuring out what your triggers are is an important step on this journey.
The 4Ds of quitting
- Drink Water.
- Deep breathe.
It's your morning break and you feel the need to smoke. What can you do?
Delay: Stop and ask yourself if you really need this cigarette, or if you can wait and do something else.
Distract yourself: Keep your hands and mouth busy. The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends having a drink of water, brushing your teeth, reaching for some carrot or celery sticks, taking a walk, calling a friend.
Deep breathe: Take a few deep cleansing breaths. You can do this.
Drink water: As mentioned above, drinking water is a distraction and a delay tactic (plus, drinking water is good for us)
Set a quit date
Are you ready to start your quitting journey? Set a date. Write it down, and tell a family member or friend so that you feel accountable.
Set up smoke-free zones
Cutting down on the times you can smoke will make it more difficult to do so, and reduce the number of cigarettes you have in a day. Make your home and your car smoke-free zones.
It takes a village
Becoming smoke-free can be difficult, so please ask for help and support from family, friends, your healthcare provider or online community. As a family member, be supportive of your loved one's quit-date and timing for this journey. If you smoke, respect their smoke-free zones.
Learn more from Sunnybrook experts at health.sunnybrook.ca
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