Strategies for Women Who Want to Quit Smoking

By Reyna Gobel

For women, quitting smoking is less about chemical dependence and more about a strategy to relieve to stress and environmental triggers. Thus, nicotine patches generally don’t work as well for women, who often must turn to additional strategies to quit.

Try some of these strategies recommended by Harvard Medical School (HMS) to diminish the emotional and social need to smoke.

1. Don’t quit at stressful times in your life. For instance, avoid quitting during the holidays if you’ll be attending a lot of smoke-filled parties.

2. Don’t quit the same day you make the decision. You need time to prepare for a smoke-free life. Throw out ashtrays. Talk to your friends and family to gather your support group. Start an exercise routine to “relieve tension, promote good sleep and help control weight gain,” according to HMS. It takes simply 30 minutes of walking per day to make a difference.

3. Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms. ”Anticipate withdrawal symptoms such as grumpiness, restlessness, irritability, hunger, headache, anxiety and drowsiness or insomnia. The discomfort usually peaks one to three weeks after you quit, and then it gradually diminishes. To get through the rough patches, stock up on low-calorie snacks and sugarless gum or candy to keep your mouth busy.”

4. Think of fun ways to preoccupy yourself when your mind wanders to thoughts of smoking or your hands miss the feel of a cigarette. Is there a hobby you want to try for after-work diversions? Is there a game you could play for five minutes at your desk? For hand diversions, you could knit, spin a spinning top toy, or squeeze a stress ball. You can also walk to the water cooler or make a cup of coffee. An additional benefit to getting up for five minutes: you can interact with coworkers without taking a smoke break with them.

5. Get counseling when needed. Quitting smoking is not an easy task. You may need individual or group counseling.

And remember to not let one slip-up curtail your success. Should you fall off the wagon, start again even more prepared for your new, healthier life.