7 TIPS FOR QUITTING TOBACCO
1. Quit smoking or get serious about quitting smoking. Don’t think of it as I’m “giving this up” but as I’m “liberating” myself. This is the single best thing you can do for your health. Exercise, diet, all of that, is secondary.
2. Take up an exercise regimen. If you like to hike, start by taking hikes without bringing your cigarettes. If you can, get connected with an online Beachbody fitness group. They’re free other than purchasing a single DVD (and there are many to choose from) upfront. Make it a video you like, Zumba, if you like dance for example – and work a regular exercise program into your life. Trust me, you’ll have plenty of time on your hands once you quit smoking.
3. Start drinking tea. And drink coffee. And drink mock-tails, with cherries and ice, drink Kombucha, drink lots and lots of water with lemon or cucumbers. Your hands will need something to do. (It’s kind of embarrassing, but I usually always have a drink nearby now that I quit. Better than a cigarette.)
4. Reward yourself. It is the reward center in your brain which is activated when you smoke. You have cleaned the kitchen, great, now time for a smoke. For me, I did a lot of reward smoking. YOU NEED TO REWARD YOURSELF IN OTHER WAYS. Like teaching a dog a trick, she is deserving of a treat. Let yourself feel at least a little OK by giving yourself a snack or a prop (a square of chocolate or an icy refreshment on a warm day) when fighting a craving. You still need a reward, maybe now more than ever. If you think “Shall I go see that movie I’ve been wanting to see or sit here an smoke a cigarette.” For gods sake get up and go see that movie. It will save you money in the long run, plus you’re doing something truly enjoyable. Reward yourself.
5. Intellectualize quitting by reading. People speak of cigarette addiction trivially, “Oh yeah, I smoke, I should probably quit” or “Nah I quit a long time ago.” THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO IT THAN THIS. People are forgetting that in-between the lines lies the story addiction, the question of who’s in control, stories about terminal diseases, diseases that have torn apart families, and the fact that smoking is generational. Smoking does very powerful and strange things to the body and to culture. It is not something to be glossed over. There are stories. Seek them out. Read about the effects of smoking on your community, your culture, and your health, and then decide if smoking is still the right choice for you.
6. Take up Yoga or Swimming or both. Yoga and swimming are both activities which promote deep inhalation and a focus on the breath. Did you realize that what smokers are actually doing is a deep breathing technique? There must be something about taking that deep inhale, like you do when smoking, that is calming. Perhaps smoking was just a more acceptable way in our culture for groups to participate in deep breathing exercises together? Luckily both yoga and swimming happen to be promoters of healthy breath too, and are acceptable in our culture.
7. Get a support group. Lucky number 7 here is to get a support group. Quitnet.com is the most comprehensive and largest quit smoking network that I have found. It helped me leaps and bounds in the beginning of my quit when I needed to park myself in front of the computer as means to avoid the deeply laid grooves of smoking in my home and my routines. On Quitnet I was able to attend a “virtual bonfire” where all the quitters from that day were tossing their “unsmoked cigarettes” into the bon fire and hooraying and congratulating one another. Cheesy? Maybe. Maybe not. Remember, you can’t save your face and your ass at the same time. In fact I found Quitnet to be a wonderful facilitator for thoughtful discussion and union over the journey to liberation from tobacco. I would recommend it, or a site just like it, as means to feel not-quite-so-alone during your quit.