Heart Research UK Healthy Tip - SmokingHeart Research UK Healthy Heart Tip, written by Dr Helen Flaherty, Head of Health Promotion at Heart Research UK
In the UK around 6.9 million people over the age of 18 smoke. Although rates of smoking have decreased in recent years, the number of people who smoke remains high. Smoking harms almost all organs in the body and it is the leading cause of preventable deaths in England. Smoking can damage your blood vessels and heart, which increases your risk of having a heart attack.
Quitting smoking can be very difficult, but it is an important step for reducing your risk of heart disease. We provide some tips for stopping smoking below.
List your reasons for stopping smoking
If you are trying to quit smoking, an effective and simple thing you can do to stay on track is to write a list of the reasons why you wish to quit smoking. Whenever you feel the urge to smoke, you can read this list and it should inspire you to keep going.
Decide a time
As soon as you stop smoking, your risk of heart disease will reduce. The sooner you decide to quit the better. Try to choose a date within the next two weeks. If you leave it too long, you will give yourself time to change your mind.
Make a plan for when you quit
Make a plan to quit smoking and ask your friends, family and co-workers for their support. Identify the triggers that make you feel like smoking and work out how to deal with them in advance. For example, if you hang around with other people who smoke, you could plan to spend more time with non-smokers or do smoke-free activities with friends who are smokers.
If you usually smoke during your break at work, plan to go for a walk instead. Dealing with cigarette withdrawal can be tough and it can lead to you feeling emotional and upset. Before quitting, ask people to be patient and understanding and remind yourself that these feelings are temporary.
Distract yourself when you get cravings
Cigarette cravings are intense urges to smoke. Quitting smoking requires a huge amount of willpower. Cigarette cravings are temporary and they can last for 5 minutes. To avoid giving in to cigarette cravings, try to distract yourself for 5-10 minutes. You could try doing some physical activity or a bit of housework, do a bit of colouring in or planning a healthy dinner. Once the craving has passed, you can give yourself a pat on the back.
You could also consider using a stop smoking aid, such as nicotine patches, gums, lozenges or nasal sprays to help stop the cravings.
Get support to stop smoking
There is a lot of support available for people who want to stop smoking. Getting support with stopping smoking can increase your chances of success. You could try contacting your local Stop Smoking Services or chatting to your GP. If you know someone who is also trying to quit smoking, you could offer to support each other. You could also seek advice from a friend or family member who has successfully stopped smoking.
You can get further support with stopping smoking and a free Personal Quit Plan from the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree
Heart Research UK
Proud to stand out from the crowd, Heart Research UK is the charity dedicated to your heart. They inspire and invest in pioneering medical research, ground-breaking training and education, and in communities to improve their heart health for themselves. For over 50 years they have driven advancements in the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease to benefit patients as soon as possible.
For more healthy tips, recipes and advice, visit heartresearch.org.uk