Smoking cigarettes is not a bad habit, it’s a serious and complicated addiction. Quitting smoking is a daunting journey and one of the biggest challenges a smoker will go through. Most people who quit successfully don’t do it on their own, they get a lot of help from their loved ones. Friends and family members can play a significant role in helping a person quit smoking. If you want to motivate and support someone who is trying to give up smoking, here are some tips that can help:
What you can DO to motivate someone who’s trying to quit:
- Do try and put yourself in the quitter’s shoes and see things from their perspective. Quitting smoking is no easy journey. For a smoker, cigarettes may seem like old friends that have been an integral part of their lives.
Embrace empathy, quitting is no easy journey
- Do stay informed by reading up about nicotine addiction, how hard it is to stop smoking and what are the various ways to quit smoking. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to understand what the quitter is going through and the higher the chances of your being able to offer effective support.
- Do respect the fact that the quitter is in charge. This is their journey, their big life change, and challenge. It needs to be all about them.
- Do let the quitter know that you are there for them and that you have their back every step of the way, whether it’s to talk, hear them out or offer encouragement.
Let the quitter know that you’ll have their back, no matter what
- Do ask your quitter what kind of support they would like, how much and in what form. Every quitter needs a different amount or type of support.
- Do ask the quitter if they’d like you to check in on them and how they’re doing. Remember to ask them how they are feeling, not just whether they’ve stayed smoke-free.
- Do help the quitter get what they need: hard candy to suck on, sugarless gum or straws to chew, healthy snacks such as fresh-cut vegetables and nuts for when cravings strike.
- Do spend time with the quitter, engaging in activities that help keep their mind off smoking. Go to a movie or a concert, take a walk, sign up for a class like photography or painting, cook together.
Spend time together doing something fun!
- To help make the quitter’s home and immediate surroundings smoke-free- remove all lighters and ashtrays, remove anything that reminds them of smoking, wash clothes and linen that smell like smoke, use air fresheners. Clean and air out their cars as well. Forbid anyone else from smoking around the quitter in his/ her home and immediate surroundings.
- Do help the quitter manage stress. Help him/ her plan time and resources to manage any key stress areas, or help out with chores such as cooking or childcare to lighten the stress of quitting.
- Do celebrate all through the quit journey- the little wins as well as the big ones. Do tell your quitter about all the positive changes that you see- such as if they’re not short of breath anymore, they smell good or their skin looks great!
- If they slip, do remind them about the reasons they have chosen to quit. Help them forget the slip and move onward in their quitting journey.
If your quitter slips, help them move on
- If the person relapses, do praise their quitting efforts, for whatever duration they were smoke-free. Encourage them to try again and remind them that they have not failed. Remind them that it’s a part of the quitting journey and that you will be there for them, no matter how many attempts it takes.
- Do understand that it’s normal to not succeed the first few times you try to quit. If your quitter relapses, do encourage them to learn from the relapse. It takes time, effort and skills to unlearn smoking. Things a person learns from a failed attempt to quit smoking may help them quit for good next time.
- Do suggest joining a support group (Facebook community) and/ or talking to an expert if you think that might help. To get in touch with a trained counselor who can help with the quit journey, or reach out to us.
DON’T do this if you’re motivating someone who’s trying to quit:
- Don’t judge, nag, preach, criticize, blame or taunt the person who is trying to quit. Quitting is a tough journey as it is and you don’t want to hurt your quitter’s feelings and make them feel worse about themselves.
Do not nag or criticize!
- Don’t check up on the person who’s trying to smoke by checking ashtrays, repeatedly asking them if they’ve smoked or sniffed the air for smoke.
- Don’t undermine their effort towards quit smoking. If you consistently demonstrate your faith in them, it can make a world of difference to their quitting efforts. A person who feels supported is more likely to quit smoking for good.
- Don’t take your quitter’s mood swings personally during the nicotine withdrawal phase. Remind your quitter that the symptoms won’t last forever and that they can get through this phase. The worst symptoms usually pass in two weeks and there are strategies for coping.
Don’t give up- it may take many attempts to quit successfully
- Don’t give up when there’s a slip or a relapse. Research shows that most people try to quit smoking several times before they succeed.
- Don’t let your quitter lose their confidence in quitting. If they have a slip or a relapse, say “when you try again…” not “if you try again...”. Studies show that most people who don’t succeed in quitting are ready to try again in the future. Share success stories about other people who have quit successfully if you think that will help.
The challenges of quitting smoking don’t come to an end all of a sudden. It takes time for cravings to fade and it’s common to have cravings even weeks or months later. Slips are common and they can take more than one attempt to quit successfully. Let your loved one know that you are with them through the good days and the bad and that they can count on your constant support as they navigate the process of quitting smoking for good.