Breaking habits can be tough, but no habit is tougher to break than quitting smoking. Every smoker has that perfect excuse; the back pocket explanation, the one that never fails to end the, “Why don’t you quit smoking, it’s bad for your health?” conversation. My perfect excuse was, “I’ll quit when I don’t have to go to work and sit in traffic everyday.” For 12 years, that was my prime, moneymaker excuse. Then I lost my job.
Suddenly my two major triggers, traffic and stress at work, were gone. And so were my excuses. I turned a negative into a positive and used my new-found freedom to quit smoking. The lack of constraints allowed me to focus on achieving my goal in a relaxed environment. I was able to replace old habits with new tools that managed my anxiety, minimized my cravings, and kept my brain occupied.
Here are some useful tips to help quit smoking while unemployed:
1) Find fun places to visit where smoking is prohibited. Being inside all day can cause a person who is quitting smoking to feel claustrophobic. Take a break from job hunting, and take advantage of the freedom. Catch an afternoon movie, check out that new art exhibit, or maybe pretend to go shopping. Just make sure it is a non-smoking trip.
2) Sleep when you feel tired. One benefit to being unemployed is the ability to make your own schedule. Smokers who are trying to quit become clock-watchers. Every minute feels like an hour, and every hour feels like a day. Sleep the time away, and job hunt during the intervals. Remember, CareerBuilder is a 24-hour business.
3) Get up from the computer and move. The, “I’m too tired to exercise after work,” excuse is gone. Exercise will reduce anxiety and keep the “ex-smoker weight” from becoming the next problem. Breathing fresh air again feels fantastic, and it will help with mood swings and overall comfort as well.
4) Keep your hands busy. My biggest hurdle was overcoming the oral fixation. Since there are no human resources drones to tell you that it is a disgusting habit, start gnawing on toothpicks. I found that toothpicks worked better than gum, because they kept my hands involved in the process. If the hands and mouth were occupied, I found that I had fewer cravings.
5) Keep the brain busy. A smoker trying to quit has the patience of a firecracker with a short fuse. A happy brain means a happy central nervous system– a key factor when reducing cravings. Shoot hoops, plant flowers, play solitaire or read a book. Do anything to stave off boredom. Don’t forget to include job hunting in your daily activities.
Quitting smoking while unemployed can be a great boost to sagging confidence and a great investment toward your new career. Concerns about smelling like smoke in a meeting, being judged by co-workers, or sneaking in that extra drag after lunch will all be worries of the past. It is a fresh start for one’s lungs, and may help in jump-starting a new career.