It’s hard to exaggerate the dangerous of smoking. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including, such things as cyanide, arsenic, and formaldehyde. It is estimated that more people die of cigarette smoking related illnesses every year. That’s more than the number of deaths from alcohol, illegal drugs, and motor vehicle accidents combined. Cigarettes contribute to a vast number of health threats, including cancer, heart disease, and emphysema, as well as minor problems such as wrinkles.
Most people who smoke would like to quit. But as every smoker knows, quitting can be incredibly difficult. Here are a few tricks doctors recommend.
Pick a quit date . It takes tremendous will power to give up a habit that may have lasted for years or even decades. You have to make a solid commitment. One way to do this is to pick an exact date when you’ll quit – a week from Tuesday, or on the first of the month. Before that date, tell everyone – your friends, colleagues, and family – when you plan to quit. Then go through with it. The more people you involve in your struggle, the more motivated you’ll be to go through with it.
Avoid the triggers . Every smoker has certain activities – sipping a beer, sitting out on the deck, or chatting on the phone – that just don’t seem the same without a cigarette. To help break the habit, experts recommend avoiding the activities that you associate with smoking. Don’t drink for a few weeks. Relax indoors instead of outside. Anything you can do to avoid ‘smoking behavior’ will make it easier to give up cigarettes for good.
Give yourself healthy alternatives . Just as some types of behaviors increase the craving to smoke, other reduces it. Going for a jog, working in the garden, or even washing a sink full of dishes will keep your hands and mind busy, so that you’re less likely to crave a cigarette.
Take five . Studies have shown that a cigarette craving usually is most intense for about five minutes. If you can get through those five minutes – by taking a walk, for example, or keeping your hands busy doing something else – you’ll find that the craving in the next five minutes and the five minutes after that will be much less intense.
Nip in the bud . Cats don’t smoke, but they certainly know the valve of a little catnip. Alternative practitioners have found that drinking catnip tea can reduce feelings of nervousness and tension, making it easier to give up smoking. Other herbal teas that have had a calming effect include skullcap and valerian (jalakan).
Drink a little milk . Drinking milk can give cigarette smoke an unpleasant taste. Many people who have successfully quit made it a point to drink milk during the day, which helped reduce cravings.
Make smoking difficult . If you’ve been trying to quit, but haven’t quite succeeded, you can improve your chances by limiting the places where you allow yourself to smoke. For starters, you may want to quit smoking in the car. This will allow you to cut back by a few cigarettes a day. Don’t let yourself smoke in the house, either. When it’s 200 outside and the wind is blowing, you may find that you really don’t want to have another cigarette just yet. It’s not as good acquitting, but it will lower your dependence and make it easier to quit entirely another day.