Having a quit day checklist can tremendously increase your chances of quitting smoking. It allows you to prepare for the day you’re finally going to say goodbye to your cigarette smoking habit and to anticipate problems that might arise along the way.
An effective quit smoking checklist consists of several parts:
- Preparation checklist
- Quit plan
- Tell everyone you’re quitting
- Emergency contacts and support
Quit Smoking Preparation Checklist
Once you decide on the day on which you are finally going to quit smoking, it is important to prepare for that day.
- If you smoke inside, make sure you regularly open the windows several days in advance to get rid of the smell of cigarettes. From now until the day you quit, smoke only outside – you don’t want anything inside reminding you of your habit.
- Thoroughly wash your furniture (sofas, couches, drapes – cigarette smoke permeates everything and the slightest whiff can trigger cravings).
- Wash all your clothes and set aside several pieces you are going to wear until you quit. On the day you quit, put those clothes into the washer and get rid of the smell of cigarettes.
- Collect all your ashtrays and get rid of all but one – throw that last one after you smoke your last cigarette. Also, get rid of all your lighters and anything else that might remind you of smoking.
- If you smoke in your car, make sure it’s thoroughly clean before your last day of smoking.
- Visit your dentist and get your teeth cleaned – say goodbye to yellow spots and tar deposits on your pearly whites.
- Start changing your routine slowly – instead of smoking after coffee, try going out and jogging. If sex is one of your triggers, substitute a cigarette with a few minutes of cuddling. It’s important to start working on new habits before you get rid of the old one.
- Talk to your doctor and let them know about your decision. Discuss nicotine replacement strategy and even if you want to try to quit cold turkey, buy patches and nicotine gums to use in case of an emergency.
- If possible, try to visit a therapist or a smoking cessation expert. Even if you have only one session you might be able to identify your triggers and devise a plan to avoid them.
- Stop buying cigarettes 2 days before your quit day. Get mentally prepared to the fact that you are smoking your last pack.
Quit Smoking Plan
Quit smoking plan is similar to the preparation checklist but with one key difference. Your quit plan comes into full effect the day you stop smoking. This doesn’t mean that it can be left unconsidered until that day. Actually, quit plan is the first thing you’re going to write because the first entry on it is going to be the date when you will quit smoking.
1. Pick the date
Don’t make the day you choose to quit anything extra-ordinary. Pick the day of the week that is usually low in stress and holds least things you have to do. Friday works best for most people but it might not for you.
The only thing that is important is that you stick to it and that you hold yourself accountable. The day before that day has to be the day you’ve smoked your last cigarette and you need to be prepared for that.
2. List your reasons
The second important part of your quit plan are going to be your reasons.
Divide your reasons into four categories:
- Health Reasons
- Your Family and Friends
- Financial Reasons
- Lifestyle Reasons
Make them very specific. For example:
- ‘I’m quitting smoking because I don’t want to die from lung cancer by the age of 40. I want to see my children grow up.’
- ‘I’m quitting because I don’t want to hurt my family and I want to stop exposing my children to toxins.’
- ‘I’m quitting because in a year I will be able to afford myself a brand new car from the money I save on cigarettes.’
- ‘I’m quitting because I don’t want to miss out on social events like I do now because I have to sneak out for a smoke every 30 minutes.’
Making sure your reasons are specific and tailored to you – that will help reinforce them. If you mention your children in your reasons, mention them by name. If you mention your friends, do the same thing. It might sound gruesome but it will help drive the point home.
3. Identify your triggers
Knowing what drives you to smoke makes it easier to avoid certain behaviors or at least be prepared for cigarette cravings they might induce.
Smoking triggers differ from smoker to smoker but may include:
- Morning coffee
- Lunch break
- Playing a video game
Triggers will vary. At first, you might want to avoid the most obvious ones’, such as coffee or alcohol. Give yourself a chance to succeed. In cases where you can’t avoid your triggers just knowing that they are triggers will help you prepare and possibly even avoid nicotine cravings.
4. Methods for fighting nicotine cravings
The next items on your quit plan are going to be methods you’re going to use to fight nicotine cravings. Be as specific as you can: list hobbies, activities, and distractions you’re going to use to trick your mind once the cravings start.
Learn more: Nicotine withdrawal symptoms and tips
5. Plan out your first 3 days
First three days of your cessation effort are going to be the worst. Cravings and other withdrawal symptoms are going to pile up and threaten to get the better of you. Plan those 3 days in great detail – make sure you’re keeping yourself distracted and busy at all times.
Also, make a note to stock up on sugar free gums, pencils, straws – anything that is going to help you keep your mouth and your fingers busy once the cravings hit.
If you’re quitting cold turkey, set your breaking point – your breaking point is the moment you will use nicotine replacement therapy you have on standby. This can be the moment when you decide to go and buy a pack of cigarettes, or 30 minutes of continuous thinking about cigarettes. If you decided to use NTR then put together a schedule of when and how you’re going to use it.
Make sure you always keep your quit plan somewhere visible. You should print it out and tape it on your fridge, your bathroom door, and take a copy to work with you. It’s important that your step by step plan for smoking cessation is always close to you – bold those reason to quit so they are visible from a mile!
Tell Everyone You’re Quitting Smoking
A good number of smokers cave and give up on their smoking cessation attempt in social situations. This is a behavior typical for addicts: when offered their drug of choice it doesn’t even occur to them to say no.
Get ahead of this problem by letting all your friends, colleagues, and family members know when you plan on quitting smoking. Ask them to refrain from offering you cigarettes or smoking around you for the first couple of days. Most people will be delighted to support you – even smokers. If anyone says they might have a hard time not smoking around you, work out a deal – don’t socialize for a couple of days until the worst of your withdrawal symptoms are gone and then resume socializing under the condition that they don’t pressure you to smoke.
Emergency Contacts and Support
Going through the process of smoking cessation alone is not advisable. The road will get bumpy sometimes and you’re going to need all the support you can get. The first thing you can do is reach out to your friends and family. Let them know about your plans to quit smoking and ask them to support you. Coach them on what they need to do if you ever called them with an emergency smoking situation – encourage you, support you, and help you stay on track.
You also might want to consider joining online forums and quitting programs. If you don’t have any smoker friends and no one in your family smokes, then you might get frustrated talking to them all the time. Being able to contact someone you know will understand what you are going through will let you know you’re not alone in the world and will help you keep on track.