Before your quit plan starts you need to think about smoking triggers in advance so that you're ready to mentally replace them with something positive. This is one of the first steps to quit smoking, is in fact one of the most important tips to quit smoking there are, because smoking triggers represent the times and situations where you're most vulnerable as a quitting smoker.
Think back to the very first cigarette you lit up and smoked. The reason for doing that may have had something to do with a need to gain some kind of social acceptance or maybe just plain curiosity, but either way prior to taking that decision to smoke that first cigarette, there were no mental triggers that stimulated the need for a cigarette because nicotine addiction was simply not present in your psychological and physical makeup.
By now, if you've been smoking regularly even just for a few weeks, you'd probably agree that some of the cigarettes you smoke on a daily basis are lit up almost unconsciously. After all, it's not too often that smokers pause before lighting up to think about the possible consequences of smoking.
Instead, you're responding more or less automatically to some trigger which has prompted into your conscious mind the awareness of a desire for a cigarette, or more accurately the awareness of a need to placate the oncoming physical and psychological effects of withdrawal from nicotine.
Some of these triggers or signals have formed into habituated patterns of conscious thought, times or situations where you feel you "should" have a cigarette, even if sometimes you don't actually really want one. Consider the course of a normal day for many smokers.
First thing in the morning Cigarette with tea or coffee.
After breakfast (or after any meal.) Cigarette with another tea or coffee.
Stress Driving, perhaps to work. There's heavy traffic, you're going to be late, and this creates stress, so you impulsively light a cigarette to "deal" with it.
Lunchtime Two triggers come into play here, a) you've just had a meal so you feel you should have a cigarette, and b) your workplace has a no smoking policy so you've not smoked for several hours and the withdrawal symptoms are starting to kick in. Under these circumstances the idea of not having a cigarette is almost unthinkable, so you willingly go to stand outside, perhaps in the wind and rain, to have that cigarette, maybe several.
Drinking After work, meet up with friends, some of whom are smokers. The combination of alcohol and being in close proximity to other smokers means you smoke heavily for a while.
Evening meal Followed by several cigarettes.
Last thing at night Not having a cigarette soon before bed doesn't feel quite right, in other words you want to make sure that your cigarette addiction is kept at bay till you wake up.
All of these mental triggers have to be mentally prepared for before starting your quit smoking plan in earnest. Anticipating and planning for difficulties ahead is an effective part of overcoming them, and the best way to quit smoking involves pre-planning. There is of course no magic wand to wave, you simply have to start making a conscious effort to visualize yourself in these future situations, but instead of reaching for a cigarette, see yourself doing something alternative that you like and enjoy. All smoking triggers can, with a little imagination and advance planning, be dealt with in ways that are positive and beneficial and not poisonous and life threatening.
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