This National No Smoking Day, we’re here with some top advice to help you stop smoking.

It’s National No Smoking Day, so whether you smoke regularly or socially, today is a good day to think about giving up. It’s not uncommon knowledge that quitting smoking will bring you and your life many benefits, but sometimes it’s far easier said than done. We spoke to Dr. Diana Gall from Doctor-4-U to get an insight on how giving up the habit of smoking will change us for the better, and she gave us her top tips on how to stop smoking for good.

Baby steps

We asked Dr. Gall what it takes to initially start the journey to a non-smoking lifestyle, as it can sometimes be the hardest step to take. Not only do you have to be in the right mindset to do it, but you need to set yourself up for an entirely different day-to-day life. Dr. Gall said, “Quitting smoking can seem like a daunting task, particularly if you have been a smoker for many years now. However, having a plan with a specific start date can help to focus the mind. It gives you something to commit to and mentally prepare for.”

She suggested that joining a support group, be it online or in-person, for that moral encouragement from other people who are in similar or professional positions. “A lot of people find it easier to quit smoking when they have support from individuals or an organisation from the beginning. Wherever you are, there are plenty of options to consider for support, including local stop smoking services, online support websites and even your GP.” She also recommended that seeking advice from a GP could be helpful as they could redirect you to other smoking services and therapy.

Finally, Dr. Gall proposed the use of medical aid. “Medicines and other products which contain nicotine are also worth considering when you start your stop smoking plan. Examples include nicotine patches and gum. Avoiding cigarettes using self-control alone can be difficult because they are addictive.”

Maintaining those steps

Once you’ve started, the important part is not giving up, even when you really want to. Part of the journey is knowing that cravings will happen, but that you can push through them with the right motivation and help.

Dr. Gall’s advice is to distract yourself when these yearnings for a cigarette happen. “To have a good chance of quitting smoking successfully, you need ideas and motivation. Something to think about is how you can tell when you are craving cigarettes. If you recognise the signs, then you’ve got a better chance of overcoming them. A craving can last for up to 5 minutes. So before you stop smoking, think of some 5-minute activities to distract you from the cravings.”

Her ideas were to do things such as going for a walk, something proactive like emptying the bins or if you’re out in the pub, go to the bar to keep yourself that little bit busier. She also said that a regular reminder to yourself of why you quit in the first place could really help. “Just before you start, you could make a list of your reasons to quit and read it whenever you need support. On a similar note, some quitters carry a picture of a loved one (like their child) with them so they can look at it for motivation whenever they get cravings.”

Lifestyle changes

As well as just quitting smoking, there are other changes you can make in your life to help make the quitting part a little easier. Dr. Gall said that these life choices could help your progress. “Diet and exercise can both have a big effect on your efforts to quit smoking. If you are not exercising already, then it’s a great time to start once you stop smoking. Scientific studies have found that even just a 5-minute walk or stretch can cut cravings and could even help the brain produce anti-craving chemicals.”

She also explained that the food and drink that we put in our bodies on a daily basis can increase or decrease cravings. “For instance, a study in America found that meat, alcohol, fizzy drinks, tea and coffee make cigarettes taste better. It also found that cheese, fruit and vegetables make cigarettes taste worse, so altering your diet can not only make you fitter but also make cigarettes less desirable.”

So, if you’re serious about quitting and struggling to do so, taking another step into adapting a different, healthier lifestyle could be the trick you’re missing.

A timeline of changes when you stop smoking

Quitting smoking has a number of positive physical effects in the short and long-term future. Here’s what Dr. Gall says that you can expect to see after a certain amount of time:

2 – 12 weeks

“Within 2 to 12 weeks of stopping, your blood circulation will improve. This will make your skin look more colourful and healthy and makes physical activity easier. Around the same period, you’ll also increase how much oxygen your body takes in and improve your immune system, making you less likely to experience tiredness and headaches.”

9 months

“Within 9 months, your lung capacity improves by up to 10%. If you’re in your twenties or thirties, then the impact of smoking on your lungs may not be that noticeable unless you go for a run. But in your later years, quitting smoking can be the difference between feeling healthy or wheezing every time you go for a walk or climb the stairs.”

Quitting smoking can help your body and health in a lot of other ways that aren’t as easy to record. Giving up the cigarettes will slow down your facial ageing and development of any wrinkles. It is also known to improve your fertility and sense of smell and taste, as well as increasing your life expectancy.

This National No Smoking Day, why not take those important and incredible first steps to stop smoking and improve your life in every way possible? Dr. Gall’s advice breaks down the struggles you might be faced with, but helps you to overcome them.

Feature image: Megan Forbes from Pexels