You are not alone. You can learn a lot from others who have quit smoking. Think about the ways these former smokers were able to stay smokefree. They might give you valuable tips to include in your quit plan.
Why I Quit
I got divorced about 15 years ago and started smoking. It felt good to go out to the bar and blow off steam. Soon I was up to a pack a day. My friend asked me if I would ever consider quitting. At first, I wasn't sure I could, so I decided to slowly cut down on the number of cigarettes I smoked and see how I did. After five months, I was down to a half-a-pack per week. Feeling bolder, I set my quit date.
My First Day Smokefree
I decided to try the patch to help get me through my first few days as a nonsmoker. I got anxious as I drove past the convenience store where I usually picked up my cigarettes, but I kept driving to the pharmacy and slapped on the patch. That small victory felt good and made me more confident that I could do this.
Battling Withdrawal and Cravings
The first few days were hard. I didn't know what to do with my hands. I went over to my friend's house (the same one who asked me to quit) and he handed me a guitar. I hadn't played in years. Soon we were jamming for 10 hours a day every weekend — keeping my hands busy and my mind off smoking.
During the week, I changed my routine. I held my coffee in my other hand. I sucked on a sour candy or drank ice water when I felt a strong craving. I also turned to an online support community. Their support and my friend's made me feel like I wasn't alone and that I could stay quit.
Why I Quit
I'm so lucky to have two wonderful grandchildren, but because I smoked, I was missing exciting milestones. Can you believe that I missed being there for Sophia's first word because I stepped out to smoke? It hurt to miss those precious moments.
For years, I relied on sprays and candles to cover up the smell of cigarettes on my clothes. After my husband passed, I moved in with my daughter to help with the grandchildren. I’d wash my clothes twice and would always smoke outside, away from my grandchildren. I didn’t want them to breathe in my smoke. One day as I was hugging them goodbye, Sophia said, “Grandma, you stink!” I didn’t want my grandkids to call me stinky grandma!
I Had Great Support
As soon as I shared that I'd made my quit plan, my daughter and friends asked me what they could do to help. My daughter had been a smoker before she had children and understood that I needed distractions to keep my mind off smoking. I went out for lunches and dinners with friends and family, I knitted blankets for my grandchildren, played cards, and joined a walking group. It was good to meet others and focus on staying more active.
I feel healthier and more energetic as a nonsmoker.
I don't feel like a tired, out-of-breath old woman anymore. I certainly don't feel my age! Sure, I don't move that fast, but I can breathe, and I don't have to miss a single precious moment to smoke! No more wheezing, coughing, and no more stinky grandma.
Why I Quit
I couldn't climb a flight of stairs or play fetch with the dogs without being short of breath. Even a short walk with the dogs could make me wheeze. I'd always been afraid that if I quit smoking I'd gain weight, but I couldn't live like this anymore. I'd tried to quit three times in 45 years, but I'd always had moments of weakness and gone back to smoking. This time, I was prepared. I made a quit plan, and I wasn't going to let a slip get to me.
100 Things You Can Do Instead of Smoke
I made a list of 100 things that I could do instead of smoke. For example, go to a yoga class, plant a garden, make a new recipe using food from the garden, start a blog, read a book, etc. It might sound silly, but you'd be surprised at what you can think of to do!
Healthy, Successful, and Smokefree
My husband and I are thinking of renting a cabin in the mountains next summer, now that I actually enjoy hiking. And while I was doing 100 things instead of smoking, I found my true passion for cooking and started my own catering company. I'll be honest, I did gain some weight, but I'm working on it. I started exercising three days a week and I feel healthier every day. Quitting smoking is the best thing that I've done for myself. I know you'll feel the same way.
Why I Quit
I lost my husband a few years ago to cancer. I felt lost and lonely after he passed. He'd been my constant companion for over 50 years! I wasn't about to give up my independence and move in with my children, or an assisted living. I'd been smoking since I started working summers as a kid, and I found myself smoking more often, as a way to pass the time. It was a familiar and soothing routine.
Then, I met Robert.
As a widow, he understood much of what I was going through and filled the void I was feeling. It wasn't long before he laid his cards on the table—he would not continue to see me if I continued to smoke. My husband and I had both smoked for years. He quit when he got sick, but I couldn't kick the habit. Robert told me to take the time to think about it and sent me to 60plus.smokefree.gov.
Support was key to helping me quit.
I handed him my quit plan 2 weeks after his ultimatum. I decided to quit for Robert, to make him proud and to avoid a disease that would impact my independence. The day before my quit date, we threw out my cigarettes, picked up the prescription my doctor recommended to help me quit, and stocked up on healthy snacks in places I'd normally go to grab a lighter or another pack. Robert kept me busy and made plans with our friends and my family nearly every day. He was my rock and supported me through every craving. I'm 3 months smokefree, thanks to his support.
Why I Quit
I started smoking in high school behind the dugout. Everyone who was anyone smoked. I kept the habit through my late teens and early twenties and told myself that I could afford to enjoy smoking. I knew the health risks, but I never worried about my health. I thought that as long as I stayed active, I'd be fine. The day before my youngest son's 20th birthday, I had serious chest pains that landed me in the hospital. When I woke up, I was told that I had suffered a heart attack and needed two stents. I felt 90 at 64. I looked over at my worried sons and wife and knew I had to quit. I didn't want to miss out on my sons starting families of their own.
Quitting was one of the toughest things I've done.
Going from up to 40 cigarettes a day to quitting was one of the toughest things I've done. I'd smoked for over 45 years! I have a fast-paced job and whenever I'd feel my stress level go up, I'd normally reach for a cigarette. Now, the medications I took every morning were a daily reminder that I had to quit for my health and find new ways to manage my stress. Every time I felt tempted to light up, I'd take deep breathes and look at a photo of my family that I kept on my desk. That helped me stay grounded.
I rewarded myself with the money I saved.
As a businessman, I started calculating the savings. At 2 packs a day, I was saving about $84 a week. That meant I could buy an e-reader after about a week without cigarettes. After a little over a month, I could have the latest smartphone. By giving myself a reward for reaching each early milestone, I was able to get through the darkest hours. Today, I'm proud to say that my wife and I have paid off our mortgage and I haven't touched a cigarette in 6 years!
These stories are inspired by documented personal experiences of former smokers and those trying to quit. The photos are of actors representing the person in the story.