We are all aware that smoking seriously damages health, but a lot of people are still addicted to smoking and cannot start or finish the day without a cigarette.
In this article, we will briefly look at the negative impact of smoking on your health, before following this up with 10 great tips that will hopefully help you to kick this habit. We fully understand that you probably already know all about the dangers of smoking, so, if you would like to skip this bit and jump straight to the tips, click here.
The Negative Impact of Smoking on Your Health
Every time you light up, you are increasing your risk of lung, bladder, mouth, pancreatic, esophageal, and other cancers. Furthermore, smoking also increases your risk of strokes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's disease, thin bones, obesity and lots more.
In addition to the above, smoking affects mental capacity and memory as well as increasing the likelihood of impotence and infertility. Smoking while pregnant also affects the unborn baby - women who smoke often give birth to underweight, premature babies.
In short, there is nothing healthy about smoking.
It's difficult to stop smoking, especially if it has been part of a daily ritual for many years - and quitting cold turkey is not an easy task. The nicotine in a cigarette provides a temporary high, so when your body does not get its regular nicotine fix, you will start to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Nicotine withdrawal begins quickly, roughly around 30-60 minutes after the last cigarette. The withdrawal can last for several weeks and will vary from person to person.
The common withdrawal symptoms include:
• Cravings to have a cigarette
• Concentration problems
• Increased appetite
• Reduced heart rate
Although it will be difficult to cope with these withdrawal symptoms, rest assured that they are only temporary. The symptoms will stop as soon as the toxins have been flushed from your body.
However, always remember the good news: Many smokers have quit, and you can too! The video below is a recovery timeline which emphasizes the positive effects of quitting smoking, and shows how the body restores itself back to health over the coming weeks and years.
To successfully quit smoking, you will need strong determination and willpower to work through the nicotine withdrawal symptoms. To add to this, you need a plan to start the process, including when you want to quit as well as all the reasons for quitting.
Avoiding these triggers will drastically reduce your desire to smoke, but it will not stop your cravings entirely. Just remember that cravings don't last long, and you can surely let them fade away without lighting up a cigarette.
The video below explains how you can handle some of the common smoking triggers:
3. Keep Your Hands and Mouth Busy
After years of smoking, some quitters miss the comfort of a cigarette in their hands or between their teeth. So, it's imperative that you look for ways to keep your hands and mouth busy.
To keep your mouth engaged, you can chew gum (preferably sugarless), suck on some candy, eat cloves, sunflower seeds, licorice sticks, celery sticks, or carrots.
To keep your hands active, hold a pen between your fingers, squeeze a rubber ball, knit, do a crossword, solve a puzzle or read a book.
When you're out and about, carry a drink in the hand that would usually be holding a cigarette, or drink from a straw to keep your mouth occupied.
4. Drink Water
Water will help treat headaches, one of the most common nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It also helps to ease a cough by making it easier for your lungs to clear out mucus. To add to this, if you're worried about gaining weight from quitting smoking, drinking water will help control your increased appetite without changing your eating habits too much.
Carrying a bottle of water around with you will also keep your hands and mouth busy.
The amount of water you need to drink depends entirely on your health, climatic conditions and activity levels. however, the majority of us should drink 8-10 glasses a day.
5. Practice Deep Breathing
When you start to feel a strong craving for a cigarette, take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. This will help you to relax and calm down.
Deep breathing is a very beneficial exercise for those who want to quit smoking. apart from strengthening lung capacity, deep breathing also eases nicotine cravings and improves the low moods that smokers often experience upon quitting.
To perform deep breathing:
1. Lie down on your back or sit up straight in a chair.
2. Place your hands on your abdomen and relax.
3. Inhale deeply through your nose, while expanding your abdomen and filling your lungs with air. Count to five as you inhale.
4. Hold your breath and count to three.
5. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Count slowly to five again.
6. Continue to inhale and exhale deeply for 10 minutes.
6. Do Some Meditation
Meditation is one of the best ways to handle some of the psychological aspects of a nicotine withdrawal as it helps fight negative moods and brings about a sense of calmness. It relaxes and calms your body and mind, which in turn reduces your stress level.
Start by meditating for a few minutes a day, before gradually increasing that to around 10 minutes per day.
7. Try Acupuncture
If you need help to quit smoking, you should make an appointment with an acupuncturist.
This works by triggering the release of endorphins (natural pain relievers) that allow the body to relax. This in turn stops jitters, curbs cravings, lessens irritability and restlessness, increases relaxation, and helps to detoxify the body.
In the video below, a professional acupuncturist shows how acupuncture can be used to quit smoking.
8. Take Up a New Hobby
Finding a new and interesting hobby will help you fight nicotine withdrawals.
Any kind of hobby such as painting, pottery, or creative writing can take your mind off of smoking. This is because this newly found interest will occupy your mind and body, helping you forget about cravings.
When it comes to hobbies, choose an activity that you're interested in, or something that you've always wanted to do.
You can also switch to drinking a cup of herbal tea when you would usually have a cigarette. Slowly sipping a warm cup of tea will provide the same stress relief as a hit of nicotine.
10. Exercise Regularly
Taking up exercise not only improves your health, but it also makes it a lot easier to quit smoking. Exercise releases a flood of endorphins, which often help curb withdrawal headaches. Furthermore, exercise can also speed up your body's self-repair process. The calories that you burn will also ward off any weight gain.
A 10 minute walk whenever you have a craving for a cigarette can make a huge difference in your effort to quit smoking.
• Brush your teeth often as the clean feeling in your mouth can help get rid of any cigarette cravings.
• Instead of lighting a cigarette, light a candle or some incense to help stop the cravings.
• Stay calm by taking a warm bath, meditating, reading a book, or listening to some music.
• Remain positive and do not allow negative thoughts to poison your mind.
• Seek help and cooperation from family and friends to help you break your addiction.
• Seek professional help to get through the rough spots.
Bonus Video: If you think quitting is hard, maybe Doug Woods can provide you with some inspiration. Doug smoked 50 cigarettes a day for 35 years, and found it extremely difficult to quit at first. However, he stuck to it and, as a result, he smoked his last cigarette in October 2015. In this video he tells his inspiring story. If Doug managed to quit, you can too.