Tips and Tricks to Quit Smoking
With over 438,000 known deaths per year, smoking is the leading cause of PREVENTABLE death in the United States. Cigarette smoke as well as the use of cigars, smokeless tobacco, and other tobacco products have been proven to cause and/or increase symptoms of other health related diseases. Alarmingly, the toxicity of second-hand smoke has taken an additional 41,000 (or more) lives per year in the U.S. alone. Tobacco use has many well-known risks such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, lung cancer, emphysema, COPD, pneumonia...the list is endless. But understanding the dangers of smoking does not make kicking the habit any easier.
So where do you begin?
First, assess your readiness to quit.
What is the upside to quitting? Why is quitting important to you? Are you ready to let go of the habit so you can embrace a balanced lifestyle with greater health benefits?
- Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your blood pressure decreases
- In just 2 days, your sense of smell and taste begins to improve
- After 2-4 weeks, your blood flow increases and breathing becomes easier
- 1-9 months in, your lung function has improved by 30% and most coughing has disappeared
- After 1 year, heart risk disease is cut in half
- After 10 years, risk of lung cancer is cut in half
- 15 years in, risk of death is like that of a non-smoker
Despite all these proven health benefits of quitting smoking, you must discover what motivates you. Whether you desire to be around to watch your grandkids grow up, improve your activity levels and/or reap the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, the reason you are ready to embrace the change is important.
2. Decide how you want to quit.
There are various different methods to adopt a nicotine-free lifestyle. Some popular methods include:
- Tapering: gradually and systematically reducing the number of tobacco products per day until tobacco free
- Cold Turkey: quitting use of all tobacco products all at once
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): use of products or medications to supply lower doses of nicotine until tobacco-free. NRT comes in various options like gum, patches, nasal sprays, lozenges and inhalers
- Hypnosis: treatment used by trained professionals to reduce desire of smoking while increasing determination to quit
- Acupuncture: technique applied by acupuncturist by use of small needles in specific body parts to help reduce cravings and ease nicotine withdrawal
3. Pair with a health coach.
As health coaches, we are trained to provide support and accountability around your well-being which includes your decision to quit smoking. Understanding that each individual is different, a well-trained health coach will help you counter the challenges you are having throughout the process and find the right motivation to stay on track with your goal to quit. In fact, here’s a tip to get you started: set a quit date and tell others (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) when you plan to kick the habit!
4. Discover your trick, and hold it closely.
Smoking is said to increase the desire for hand-to-mouth or chewing as well as a need for increased happy hormones. To substitute your typical tobacco product, try chewing on gum, almonds, or sunflower seeds, lying a breath strip on your tongue or adopting a toothpick, straw, or cinnamon stick. To increase your happy hormones, go for a walk, start a project or hobby, meditate, watch a funny show, write a story about your journey, join a club, or begin a new exercise regimen. No matter what you try, make note of what works best for you and always keep it within reach!