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GUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a self-sustaining community support diary for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are quitting or thinking of quitting, or have quit, please -- join us! You can also click the GUS tag to view all diary posts.
The GUS library is resource for those looking for information on quitting smoking.
The Gus Library  The GUS library is really looking impressive these days.  Check it out and thank all who have done the very nice work.

A message to all quitters:  You don't have to avoid GUS if your latest attempt to quit didn't work out. We won't give you a bad time and we consider the attempted quits as practice for the real quit.
 

First some music.  Some jazzy stuff from the Grateful Dawg.  David Grisman and Jerry Garcia.
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On occasion, I post this growing list of tips for quitters and ask for any other suggestions. The last time I posted these was late February so it is time for a repeat with added suggestions from last time.  New suggestions get added everytime and the list grows longer.  If you have some sage advice not already on the list please give them in a comment or two.  

This list of suggestions is in the spirit of GUS, it is yours to do what you wish with it.  Since quitting is a personal thing and everybody is different, they are not hard and fast rules. I am adding a suggestion not included in the list, a pre-list suggestion, for anybody getting ready to quit.

Go read Dallasdoc's diary.
start here with Dallasdoc diary
and go check out the the GUS Library  .  There is a lot of good information found here
After that, here is the list of quitting suggestions as it stands now and is ready for any new ones to be added.
Quitters of all kinds are welcome to submit additional ones in the comments section.

Here we go.

1.  SET A DATE A few people can just quit on a whim, most cannot.  You can practice quitting before your quit date.  I think since I "practiced" quitting so many times before, I became good at it.  I just wasn't good at staying quit.  For some unknown reason, this GUS thing seems to have helped that issue.  That and $7.00/pack and lack of stamina.  Yep.

2.  GET RID OF YOUR STASH  Smoke 'em all up or give them away the night before you quit.  Empty and wash all the ashtrays in your house and car.  Don't tempt yourself unnecessarily.

3.  START TO QUIT ON A NEW DAY  Quitting mid-day never worked at all for me.  Others may disagree.  I always found that smoking up all of my cigarettes the night before and starting the quit day with an empty pack worked best.

4.  FOCUS ON QUITTING  Your task is difficult enough without adding any more burdens to your psych.  Do not add weight watching, foot odor eliminating or any other personal improvement program at this time.  You can do all of those later.  Get this big one done and the others can be faced later.  This one is tough enough to warrant your complete personal improvement attention.

5.  BE VERY KIND TO YOURSELF  You get to do most anything you want to for those first 2-3 weeks of quitting.  Forget the diet, have ice cream if you wish with lots of chocolate.  Four or maybe five days of quitting could buy you a great steak/lobster dinner.  Use rewards to mark milestones in your quit.  One week, two weeks, five days, ten days etc.  Anything you want you can have because you are not spending money on tobacco. spend it on yourself.

6.  USE ALTERNATIVES TO CIGARETTES  Carrot sticks, celery sticks, chewing gum, licorice sticks, cucumber slices, bite size candy bars, M&M's, chocolate of any kind, bananas, peaches, jello, beef jerky, roasted almonds, sunflower seeds, salted peanuts, hard candy, apples, oranges.......Do you get the idea yet?

7. KEEP YOURSELF BUSY.  Try hiking, biking, knitting, sewing, jumping. hopping, cooking, eating, skipping, swimming, singing, whistling, hollering, screaming........ any thing but smoking.

8.  SEPARATE YOUR NORMAL HABITS FROM THE HABIT OF SMOKING.  If you had your morning coffee and cigarette on the porch, have your morning coffee in the kitchen.....or switch to tea for awhile.

9.  BREATHE  Look up Old Hippie Chick's comments.  Take deep breaths when a craving hits, it helps.
From jillwklausen:  Whenever the "craving" for a cigarette comes over you, what your body is really telling you is that it's feeling deprived of oxygen. So pretend to have a cigarette in your hand, pressing your empty fingers to your lips if necessary, and take a long, FULL, DEEP breath into your lungs. Hold it there for several seconds like you would if you were smoking, then blow it out slowly. Repeat as necessary.  Breathing is good, a visit to effervescent's yoga diaries could help you here.

10.  IF A BIG CRAVING HITS, GO FOR A WALK and BREATHE instead of a smoke break, go for a walk around the block.

11.  TRY TO AVOID TRIGGERS  For me, getting pissed off made me want a cigarette.  Republicans piss me off so I turned the TV off and avoided the talk shows.  I saved the nicotine replacements for these moments.  In my case, I used the lozenges when those unexplainable feelings of being really pissed off started.  

12.  LAUGH, LAUGH OUT LOUD  Maybe the best counter to a nasty craving.  You can't smoke when you are laughing.

13.  IF YOU HAVE A SLIP UP, FORGET ABOUT IT AND SET UP ANOTHER QUIT DAY SOON.  DO NOT GIVE UP ON QUITTING.

14.   Maybe most important.

           KEEP A POSITIVE CAN DO ATTITUDE

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I tried this recently but I kept hitting my head and shoulders on the ceiling so it may not have been as effective.

15.  From tripodisblack: In order to change old habits that trigger smoking, maybe you could try out a new activity - a Sierra Club hike in your area, bike ride, an urban walkabout, a new class at your local "Y" or gym/rec center. Join a friend/loved one for a walk. What some of my friends do is simply call me and we walk or work out together although we are in separate cities. Or if one of us has to work, one of us works out and the other talks through the workout.  Changing habits to get rid of an old one, good idea.

16.  From  GideonAB: I am not an expert on this kind of thing but I believe that some people find they can reduce their intake to one or two a day prior to quitting.
 During many of my early quits, I would suck down my complete supply of cigarettes the night before I quit thus increasing my intake.  Maybe this is why those attempts failed.

17.  From FrugalGranny: The keyword is choice. I never use the word can't. The word can't triggers rebellion in all of us. We don't want to be told we can't do something. I quit smoking almost 3 years ago. I always keep in mind that I am fully capable of smoking. I simply choose not to do so. This one is good for all the rebels and mavericks here.

You can try the Plok Plan:

2 month plan:

1. Days 1 and 2, buy a pack of cigarettes in the morning.

2. Discard 1 of those cigarettes from the pack.

3. Smoke the rest of the pack through out the day.

4. Go to bed that night without a cigarette in the house.

5. Days 3 and 4, buy a pack of cigarettes in the morning.

6. Discard 2 of those cigarettes from the pack.

7. Smoke the rest of the pack through out the day.

8. Go to bed that night without a cigarette in the house.

9. Days 5 and 6, buy a pack of cigarettes in the morning.

10. Discard 3 of those cigarettes from the pack.

11. Smoke the rest of the pack through out the day.

12. Go to bed that night without a cigarette in the house.

Rinse, repeat. You'll feel silly when you throw away 19 cigarettes from pack. But who cares?

If you need to stretch it out to 3 months, do it. Save yourself the guilt and shame that drives you back to cigarettes.

18 and 19 from Neuroptimalin:

When the urge strikes, tell yourself you don't need to light up RIGHT THIS SECOND.  The urge will pass in a few seconds.  Do that as many times as you can, then light up only when you absolutely must.  In the meantime, you're training your mind to accept delay, delay, delay (denying instant gratification without thought), which ultimately becomes training on doing without for longer periods of time.  At first, you may only delay yourself for a few minutes, but eventually you'll be able to do it for hours, then days, etc.

Second tip is to MOVE THE SMOKES from wherever you normally keep them.  I used to keep mine on a bookshelf right beside me, and would often find myself with a lit cigarette in my mouth and no memory of actually lighting it, it was just something I did automatically.  When I moved the pack to a higher shelf, my mind did a retake when I reached for them automatically and they weren't where my habit expected them to be.  Once I realized I'd moved them, I could then tell myself I didn't need one "right this second" and thus trained myself to deal with doing without for a few minutes, etc.

20, 21, 22 and 23 from Hugh Jim Bissell......

20.  Understand that what you are doing is difficult.  If it was easy, you would have stopped a long time ago.  Because it is difficult, expect that you will at times feel negatively about it: "this sucks", "I suck", "I can't do it", "I hate doing it", etc.  That is just you addiction talking, and you are getting rid of your addiction, so those feelings will go away too.

21.  You only have to not smoke for the next 15-20 minutes or so.  You don't have to stop FOREVER.  For me, never smoking again was too difficult, but I could keep myself from lighting up for 15-20 minutes - that was within my power.  So when a craving to smoke hit (for me, roughly 3-4 times a day for the first 6 months or so), I told myself I would allow myself a cigarette, but I had to wait for 15 minutes.  Most often, when the 15 minutes had passed, so had the craving to smoke.  Using the "I'm just putting it off for 15 minutes or so" thinking, I was able to not smoke for, well a long time now.

22.  Tell others that you are quitting.  Telling others that I was quitting is like making a commitment; it made it real to me.  It meant acknowledging the power tobacco had over me, and made my wish to stop smoking explicit.  It also meant I could not hide behind a smokescreen: others would know if I was not smoking or if I went back to smoking.  Thinking that others would know the outcome gave me extra motivation during those 15 minute craving attacks.  I also enjoyed the "good for you" postivie strokes I got from my acquitances.

23.  You can do it.  I did it, and I was a 25-year, pack-a-day, non-filtered nicotine FIEND!!!  Millions of others have done it.  I fell a bunch of times; others have fallen as well.  With repeated effort and using these tips, I and millions others have quit.  YOU CAN TOO.  And I and millions of others are on your side!!

From HamdenRice:

24.  Maybe unpopular, but never say "never again", just not now.

GDBOt added some philosophy:

"There are many paths to enlightenment but there is only one way." My reinterpretation of that phrase is 'There are many stories about how your sisters and brothers quit a very bad habit, and hopefully you can find a couple useful signposts here, but there is only one way that is real. don't smoke.' don't smoke. start now. or soonish. Start not smoking soon, and start thinking about not smoking Now. And don't stop thinking about not smoking until you are not.
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I can't wait until I am out of limbo.
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