Hello, there! My name is Krystle Eckhart, PsyD, HSP. I’m Think Whole Person Healthcare’s Integrated Behavioral Health Specialist. I’m excited to share with you this series of quick overviews about one of my areas of specialty – smoking cessation. You can learn more about me at the end of this article! First, let’s talk about the five stages of smoking cessation.
With smoking cessation, like most behavior changes, you will likely find yourself going through these stages:
- Precontemplation: “I’m not ready to quit smoking yet.”
- Contemplation: “I know that I should quit but I’m not sure how to do it.”
- Preparation: “I have cut down the number of cigarettes I smoke per day.”
- Action: “I am ready to quit smoking now.”
- Maintenance: “I have quit smoking.”
In this article, we’re talking about Stages One and Two: Pre-contemplation and Contemplation.
Stage One: Pre-contemplation
During the Precontemplation Stage, it can be helpful to gather smoking cessation resources and information to help gain the motivation to quit. Now is a good time to identify your support network (e.g., those people and resources who encourage you to quit and help support you during the process) and determine your top reasons to change your behavior (e.g., motivated to quit due to impact on health, financial cost, negative impact on work or important relationships, etc.).
We talked about the health benefits of smoking cessation and the health benefits timeline after the last cigarette in part one. Go back to that blog to find fodder for motivation. As stated above, finding these motivations will help you move from Precontemplation to Contemplation.
Stage Two: Contemplation
It’s important to continue to gather information about smoking cessation resources to continue to find the motivation to quit. To increase success, it’s also important to develop an understanding of your triggers – the “why” part of smoking. This is a great stepping stone for the “how to stop” part. We can then find healthy alternatives to triggers and use them for proactive coping strategies.
Here are some common triggers for smoking:
- Nicotine cravings
- Need to handle something/keep hands busy
- Needing an energy boost
- Feeling down, stressed or angry
- Wanting a reward
- Social situations
- Drinking coffee
- Drinking alcohol
- Driving/riding in a vehicle
- Reading or watching television
- Talking on the phone
- After meals/when you feel too full
- First thing in the morning
What comes to mind right away as alternatives? Can you identify what kind of things make you feel bored, down, or unfocused? Are there strategies you can think of right away that can help you avoid feelings or situations that make you reach for a cigarette? It can be hard to think of them right away – you have a lifestyle that you like, right? That’s where I come in. We can make a plan that fits into your life.
Stay tuned for the next article about Stage Three: Preparation. Share this article with your loved ones to spread awareness for smoking cessation and Lung Cancer Awareness Month.