8 Steps Closer to Being Smoke-Free
February is American Heart Month, and everyone knows that quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart health. If you’ve been thinking of giving it a try, keep the following in mind:
1. Get motivated
Motivate yourself to reach your goal by creating a wish list of all the benefits you will reap from giving up tobacco. Carry it with you and read it when you feel the urge to smoke. Motivators might include Living longer, having more energy, no more smelly clothes and hair, saving money, and modeling a healthy lifestyle for your children
2. Explore your options
While some people are ready to quit on their own, others choose one or several options in the wide range of available support. Programs, patches, and gums can help reduce cravings and get you through the tough times.
3. Move it
Whether you sweat it out in the gym, or simply start taking the stairs at work, getting regular exercise can make all the difference when it comes to quitting the cigarette habit. Studies have shown that exercise:
- Helps you stay cigarette-free
- Promotes better sleep
- Prevents weight gain
- Lifts low moods
4. Flush it out
Flush your body of the carcinogens and other toxins caused by smoking by eating lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water. Some health professionals believe these habits cleanse your body of pollutants and help to prevent weight gain.
5. Get distracted
Getting out of your normal routine is one way to help shake the habit. Avoid your usual triggers, and create new distractions. For example:
- After meals, go for a walk, make a pot of herbal tea, or brush your teeth.
- To occupy yourself in the car, sing, chew gum, or sip water.
- Keep your hands busy by knitting, playing cards, or holding a book.
- Visit only nonsmoking establishments.
6. Just breathe
A deep inhalation can actually promote relaxation, so that’s why deep-breathing exercises can be a great calming technique for new nonsmokers. Do some deep breathing each day for three to five minutes. Breathe in through your nose slowly, hold the breath for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Try doing your breathing with your eyes closed to quiet the mind.
7. Rally the troops
Enlist the help of those around you. Ask your family and friends to provide extra support and encouragement. Let them know you might be a little irritable while you are quitting. Tell your health practitioner you have decided to quit smoking, and ask for his or her advice. Find a quit buddy who is willing to kick the habit with you—someone you can call when cravings hit.
8. Keep at it
If you slip up, don’t give up. Studies show it can take more than one attempt for a person to finally stop smoking. Remind yourself why you are stopping and recommit to your goal. Believe that you will succeed. Good luck!
February 4, 2010
A nutritional anthropologist by training, Linda Knittel works as a nutritional counselor and health writer. She writes regularly about nutrition, alternative medicine, traditional diets, yoga, and fitness for publications such as Natural Health, Yoga Journal, Body & Soul, Fitness, Gourmet, and Let’s Live. She is also the author of the User's Guide to Natural Remedies for Depression (Basic Health Publications, 2003).
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