6 Ways to Stay Motivated to Quit Smoking

If you quit smoking recently, you probably knew exactly what your reason was at the time. Maybe you wanted to get serious about your health, set a good example for the kids, or save all the money you’ve been spending on cigarettes. But now that some time has passed, you might be ready for a fresh infusion of motivation. That’s when these quit-smoking tips come in handy.

Below are six surprisingly effective ways to renew your commitment to giving up smoking. Some may not apply to you, but others might help you stay tobacco-free for good.

What Happens When You Quit Smoking?

Focus on Fido or Fluffy

Secondhand smoke can be as harmful for pets as it is for nonsmoking human friends. According to the American Legacy Foundation, exposure to smoke has been linked to nasal cancer and lung cancer in dogs and lymphoma in cats, among other effects. In one survey, 28% of smokers said knowing that their habit was hurting their pets would spur them to quit.

Create a long-term budget

In a study published last year in the journal Addiction, smokers whose saving and spending plans stretched ahead more than a few months were more likely to quit smoking than those whose plans reached only into the next week. The reason? Long-term budgeters were more focused on the future, which may have helped them think about the health consequences of continuing to smoke.

Think of your future kids

While you’re focusing on tomorrow, consider this: Whether you’re male or female, smoking may jeopardize future children even before conception. In women, smoking increases the risk of infertility, accelerates reproductive aging, and makes eggs more prone to genetic abnormalities, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

In men, the ASRM says that smoking reduces sperm count and motility and increases sperm abnormalities. Plus, a study published last year in the FASEB Journal showed that men who smoke can damage the genetic information they pass along. These genetic changes could increase the risk for childhood cancer and other diseases in their offspring.

The Effects of Smoking on Pregnancy and Childbirth

Stay physically active

Regular exercise is often recommended to help manage stress or prevent weight gain after quitting smoking. But those aren’t the only ways it helps. A recent analysis of the combined results of several studies showed that moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking or cycling, also helps tame nicotine cravings. Maybe that’s why physical activity decreases the risk of having a smoking relapse.

Eat your fruits and veggies

In a recent study, researchers from the University at Buffalo found that eating more fruits and vegetables helps people who are trying to quit smoking stay tobacco-free. One possible explanation: The fiber in these foods makes people feel full. Because many people confuse hunger with a craving to smoke, that might lead to less desire for a cigarette.

7 Reasons to Quit Smoking

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness involves fully focusing your attention on here-and-now experience, noticing and accepting it without judging it. In a study from Yale University School of Medicine, 88 volunteers who wanted to quit smoking were randomly assigned to eight sessions of either a mindfulness class or a standard quit-smoking program. Four months later, 31% of those in the mindfulness group were still tobacco-free, compared to only 6% in the standard program.

It seemed that mindfulness helped people notice and accept nicotine cravings without reacting to them. Each time people successfully rode out a craving, the intense urge to smoke grew a little weaker.

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