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December 31, 2013

What's the best way to keep those New Year's resolutions?

Ada —

   When Dec. 31 rolls around, people vow to save money, pay down their debt, drink less and lead a happier, healthier life, but it’s harder to keep New Year’s resolutions than you might think. People have already broken some of their pledges by mid-January and never get around to starting on others. After a few months, they give up on their self-improvement plans.

   Then another New Year’s Eve arrives, and the resolutions cycle begins again.

   So what can people do to make sure they keep their resolutions in 2014?

   Here’s a list of three popular resolutions and tips for keeping them:

   1. Stop smoking.

   Many people pledge to stop smoking each year, but few are able to keep that promise without some type of support.

   Only 4 percent to 7 percent of smokers are able to give up cigarettes without the help of medicine or other assistance, according to the American Cancer Society. The ACS said studies in medical journals have reported that 25 percent of smokers who use medicines can stay smoke-free for over six months, but counseling and other types of emotional support can boost success rates higher than medicine alone.

   The ACS’s website spells out a four-step approach to stopping smoking, starting with making the decision to quit. The other three steps include picking a quit day and making a plan, coping with withdrawal and staying tobacco-free.

   Three tips for keeping your pledge:

   • Avoid temptation. Stay away from people and places that tempt you to smoke, especially in the early stages. Later on, you’ll be able to handle these temptations with more confidence.

   • Find new ways to reduce your stress. Exercise or find a hobby that keeps your hands busy like needlework or woodwork, which can help take your mind off your tobacco cravings. Take a hot bath, go for a long walk or read a book.

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