Ways to Stop Smoking

Most smokers want to quit. They understand that tobacco isn’t healthy, and they know that smoking can affect their appearance, appetite and ability to breathe properly. They may also be aware of the many cancers associated with smoking.

But quitting isn’t easy. It is especially difficult if you’ve been smoking for years and are addicted to nicotine. Overcoming a substance use disorder requires dedication and perseverance. Some days might be tougher than others, but quitting is possible.

How to Stop Smoking

Quitting smoking can save you from a lifetime of health problems. No matter your age, it is never too late to give up tobacco use. And you can take a number of steps to quit successfully.

Craft a Quit Plan

Write down your goals for quitting smoking. During this time, detail your reasons for quitting. Think of ways to avoid situations that can lead to smoking, and make a list of people you can contact if you are tempted to smoke. This quit plan can help you stay confident, motivated and focused on avoiding tobacco use.

Stay Active

Staying active can keep your mind off of smoking. You can go for a walk or run around the neighborhood, see a movie with friends, lift weights or participate in recreational sports. Exercising can also help you maintain a healthy weight and boost your overall well-being.

Participate in Mindfulness Activities

Mindfulness activities such as meditation or yoga can relieve stress. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found yoga to be an effective complementary therapy for reducing smoking and anxiety among women. Yoga exercises incorporate breathing techniques that fill your lungs with fresh air, which can help clear your mind.

Try Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy is a safe and effective way to alleviate nicotine withdrawal symptoms, a set of distressing effects that often cause people to return to smoking. These therapies include patches, lozenges, inhalers, gums and nasal sprays that provide small amounts of nicotine to help people gradually taper off of cigarettes. A number of these therapies are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating nicotine dependence.

Attend Counseling

Counseling can assist you in understanding the underlying problems in your life that contribute to your smoking. A counselor can also offer you alternative methods for relieving stress. Additionally, participating in a 12-step program such as Nicotine Anonymous can provide opportunities to get advice and support from others in similar situations.

Avoid Triggers

People, places and things can cause cravings to smoke. Avoid spending time with smokers and going to bars or restaurants where smoking is permitted. Instead, forge friendships with nonsmokers and choose smoke-free establishments. You should also clear your home of cigarettes, lighters and other items that remind you of smoking.

Seek Support

Quitting smoking is difficult to do alone. Enlist the support of loved ones who sympathize with your situation. Tell them about your dedication to overcoming smoking, and if they smoke, explain that their nicotine use can trigger your cravings. They likely will avoid tobacco use in your presence and offer encouragement on your most stressful days while you are quitting.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

By quitting smoking, you’re improving your long-term health. Smokers who quit experience cleaner skin, lower cholesterol, better lung function, stronger bones and a healthier immune system. They also lower their risk for various cancers.

According to the American Heart Association and the U.S. surgeon general:

  • Your blood pressure and heart rate drop to normal levels 20 minutes after quitting.
  • The carbon monoxide in your blood returns to normal levels 12 hours after quitting.
  • Your circulation and lung function improve two weeks to three months after quitting.
  • Coughing and shortness of breath subside one to nine months after quitting, and normal breathing gradually returns.
  • Your risk for coronary heart disease is 50 percent lower one year after quitting.
  • Your risk for bladder, esophagus, mouth and throat cancer is reduced by half five years after quitting.
  • You are 50 percent less likely to die from lung cancer 10 years after quitting, and your risk for pancreatic or larynx cancer drops.
  • Your risk for coronary heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker 15 years after quitting.

The health benefits of cutting nicotine from your life cannot be ignored. By planning your abstinence in advance, understanding the dangers of triggers and surrounding yourself with supportive individuals, you can quit successfully and live a longer, healthier life.

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