Gone are those days when throwing rings of smoke up in the air was perceived as fashionable. Thanks to the relentless campaigning by non-governmental organizations (NGO) and a number of initiatives taken up by the government of India, people have become more aware of the harmful effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products. It’s true that Indians have not been able to quit smoking as effectively as their counterparts in many other countries, some reports show a glimmer of hope. According to some recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a US-based national public health institute, 12 percent men and 16 percent women are estimated to have quit smoking between 2008 and 2013. Know what? Many of these quitters did it the cold turkey way, meaning, they gave up all at once, without using any sort of external help such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products or stop- smoking drugs. Wondering whether going cold turkey can be the best way to quit smoking? Well, best or not, these quitters can teach us a thing or two about taking the addiction by its horns. How to follow in their footsteps? Here are a few tips:

Preparation

To quit cold turkey, you will have to harness a lot of willpower. Take baby steps to prep your mind for the challenge:

Fix a date: Schedule a ‘quit’ date, which is at least a couple of weeks away. It is important to choose the date wisely — pick a time in the year when it is likely to go less eventful. It may not be that great an idea to wait for your birthday, anniversary, or any other special event when you are likely to party. Stress triggers craving, and therefore don’t plan it around a span of time when some major life events such as exam and job change are on the horizon. For that matter, also avoid a date around festivals and social gatherings.

Analyze Your Smoking Pattern: Do you find great pleasure in taking a relaxed drag while reading the newspaper in the morning? Does that solitary workplace-to-home walk at the evening gives you some major cravings? Do you feel the urge for a drag every time you find yourself surrounded by smokers? Think about your smoking routine and trigger pattern and mark out time or situations when you reflexively reach out for those sinful sticks. Work out a plan for effective distractions. For example, skip the newspaper; instead turn on the television for a quick brush up on the breaking news. Shop on your way to home — with your two hands being occupied with heavy bags, it will not be possible for you to light up a cigarette. Don’t be afraid of being branded as an unsocial — for a while avoid friends who smoke. As they say, where there is a will, there is a way. As you keep on brainstorming, you will surely find a number of fun ways to distract your mind. The more you change your daily routine, the easier it will be for you to control your cravings. In order to get habituated to this new routine, start following it from a few days before the planned ‘quit’ date.

Boost Your Will with A List of Benefits: Benefits of quitting tobacco are countless, literally. Be it your health, looks or personal finance, staying away from tobacco always steer your life to a positive direction. Jot down all the benefits and carry it inside your wallet. Alternatively, you can also store them in your mobile phone. Whenever you anticipate craving, refer to the list. The incentives will inspire and motivate you.

Stay Motivated After Quitting

Quitting cold turkey is heroic, and that is why it is so difficult to achieve. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. When you smoke for a long time, your brain develops these tiny nicotine-receptive cells. These tiny cells are the ones that make quitting as difficult as they keep on demanding for more, thus triggering the craving. This explains the high relapse rates after quitting tobacco. Even long after quitting, the person may continue to experience the urge. And this is where your determination has a big role to play. Below are a few ways to boost your determination to stay tobacco-free:

Include Friends And Family Into Your Plan: Support of your loved ones can help you stick to your decision. Inform them that you have quit smoking for good and ask for their intervention whenever you feel that a trigger moment is coming along. A round of walk in the neighborhood along with your spouse or a quick chat with your best friend over phone can significantly distract your mind. When it comes to outing with your friends and family, always visit smoke-free places. It is also important that you avoid friends who smoke. Irritability is a part of the quitting process — request your near and dear ones to be more tolerant.

Join A Support Group: Sharing your success with like-minded people will help you stay motivated and stop you from resuming your bad habit. Social media sites are a great place to find such groups. In addition, many government hospitals offer such programs in India.

Sweat it out

A research conducted in the University of Exeter has shown that ten minutes of vigorous physical activity helps reduce cravings for cigarettes. Exercise increases the release of dopamine, a mood-boosting hormone, in your blood, which in turn suppresses the urgency for a puff.

Use Your Phone to Get Help

Mobile phone applications can act as on-the-go life coach, helping you stick to your resolution. Some apps connect the user to suitable support groups from where they can receive motivating advices.

Whether cold turkey is the best way to quit smoking or not is a matter of debate. That thousands of quitters have taken this route to success implies that the method does work. If you have tried several times but failed to quit smoking, give it a try. It is difficult, but not impossible with the right kind of groundwork. And we have already shown you the way.