One of the greatest challenges with quitting smoking -- or changing any ingrained habit -- is sustaining that initial burst of motivation. You might be excited the first day you decide to get healthy, but by the third day, you're going to realize that reaching a goal takes work.
Fortunately, in this golden age of technology, there is an app for that. Actually, there are several apps to help you refresh your urge to improve your life and keep chugging forward. Here five tools to help you quit smoking or otherwise make a change in your life.
Smoke Free shows you your progress in quitting: how long you've been without a cigarette, the money you've saved, improvements in your health over time. There are other apps that work with this numbers-driven gamification model as well, such as Cessation Nation and Stop Smoking Cigarettes Now. If you're someone who likes to watch numbers go up, these tools are great. The drawback for some folks is that, especially in the early stages of quitting, it can be a bit disheartening to realize that you've only gone one week without a substance you depended on for five years.
If you don't reach your goal, this app will make you pay -- literally. Users of stickK pledge to lose money (which will go toward the charity of their choice) should they fail to reach their goal. Someone quitting smoking, for example, might pledge to pay $20 every time the person caves and smokes. The money is taken from your account automatically if you admit that you went off track. You can get out of paying by lying, but that defeats the purpose of the app.
Quit Pro is all about tracking what triggers you to smoke -- moods, situations, what have you. Knowing what might set you off can help you plan ahead for such a situation. For example, if drinking makes you want to smoke, maybe you avoid the bar for a few weeks or perhaps you decide on a plan for dealing with cravings if you do drink. This app also tracks how many cigarettes you've had or haven't had, which could be a drawback if you're not the type to draw encouragement from numbers.
The idea behind HabitBull is that it helps you reprogram your habits. You can log bad habits (like smoking) and set reminders to do the kinds of things you hope will become second nature (like working out.) The info you log gets saved and you can export it as a CSV file to use as you see fit. A key value in the model is that the calendar feature makes it possible to visualize what you're doing so you can better identify patterns in your habits.
Text message apps
One study found people who use text message programs are more likely to get off cigarettes in six months than those who don't. Texting options, which send SMS reminders and tips directly to the user's phone, are available for people trying to lose weight or make other life changes as well. What's great about it: Frequent encouragement and reminders that you have a goal and you are trying to meet it. The drawback: The texts target too broad an audience to be tailored to individual users. The California Smokers' Helpline offers one free texting service. Another option is SmokefreeTXT.