Continued From Part Four: Natural Remedies and Complementary Therapies that Help You Quit Smoking
Set a Quit Date
- Set a date and tell those around you. Setting a date allows you to start preparing mentally, and telling others about it makes you more likely to stick to it. Keep in mind that trying to find the perfect day to quit smoking is impossible, there will always be excuses as to why it “is not the right time”. Decide when you will do it and be sure to mark it on your calendar.
- Make sure you allow time to make any necessary preparations. A few weeks to a month should give you enough time to prepare yourself mentally and to acquire any aids that you choose to use. Keep your preparation time reasonable and don’t make your quit day too far off in the future.
- Choose a day when you are not working or engaged in any social activities where you would usually smoke. Also, plan that for your first few days after quitting you are not with people who smoke.
- While there is no perfect time to quit, there are times that are better than others. Choose a time when your desire to quit is high and your mood and outlook are positive. Quit at a time when your home and work life are stable, and you are not under any extra stress.
- For women who experience PMS, timing your quit date with the menstrual cycle may be helpful. Quitting at the end of your period, or at the very beginning of the next cycle can help avoid the extra stress of hormonal related symptoms.
Prepare for Your Quitting Day
- During your preparation time carry a notebook around with you and record when, where and why you light up a cigarette. Note your feelings or emotions at that time. You may also want to try skipping a few cigarettes and record your reactions. Knowing in advance how you react when not smoking can help you devise a plan for helping yourself get through cravings and withdrawals once you quit for good.
- Make sure you have any herbs, vitamins, or remedies that you feel may be helpful when you quit. Some things you may want to start taking a couple of weeks before you plan to quit.
- Stock up on healthy foods and beverages.
- Just before you quit, eliminate things from your environment which remind you of smoking. Throw out all your cigarettes, ashtrays, matches or lighters which you use for lighting up.
- Try to remove the smell of smoke from your house and car. Open the windows and let these areas air out. Launder any clothing that smells of smoke. If you have been smoking in your house you may wish to steam clean the carpets and upholstery, and launder linens and curtains. If this is too big of a project for you, then at least consider spraying fabric and upholstery with an odor eliminating product such as Febreeze. You can also burn scented candles in the home, or place small bowls of vinegar around the rooms in your house to absorb the odor of cigarette smoke.
Stay Positive and Motivated
- Believe that you can quit. Positive thinking and keeping an open mind are the most important factors in quitting smoking. Positive thinking, even when you are not feeling particularly positive, will still help improve your mood and make it easier to continue with your plan to quit.
- If you are tempted by thoughts such as “Just this once” or “It’s only one cigarette”, remind yourself how important quitting is to you and how much you are jeopardizing when you continue to smoke. Quitting is difficult, but it may be a decision that ultimately saves your life.
- Frequently congratulate yourself for having quit and allow yourself to feel empowered for all the success you have achieved so far.
- Consider downloading a quit meter to help track the number of days you have been smoke-free and the time and money you have saved by not smoking. A Windows compatible quit meter is Silk Quit. Using such a tool will be a constant reminder of the success you have achieved.
- Be aware of relapse. If you do happen to succumb in a moment of weakness, be patient with yourself and don’t allow any feelings of guilt, failure, or other negative states to enter your mind. See it as a minor setback and immediately get back to not smoking. Remember to congratulate yourself on the time you went without smoking. Then, identify what exactly led you to smoke in that instance and make a plan to avoid lighting up if a similar situation occurs in the future. Stay strong and refuse to give up your efforts.
- Don’t stress out if you gain weight. Although there are things which you can do to avoid putting on a few pounds after quitting, sometimes quitting smoking is enough of a challenge in itself. If you’re in a healthy weight range, and you don’t want another thing to worry about, then don’t worry about it. Without changing eating habits, the average smoker gains about 10lbs after quitting. It’s not a lot of weight, and once you have kicked your smoking habit you can then take measures to lose that extra weight if you want to.
- Remind yourself frequently of the benefits of quitting smoking. You can repeat your reasons mentally, or write them down on a card that you can easily access anytime you need to reaffirm your motives. Your reasons for quitting may be different from others, but here are some things you can think of to reinforce why you are quitting:
Health Benefits: The most obvious benefits are health related and include: a decreased risk of lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, cataracts, incontinence, impotence and periodontal disease, just to name a few.
If better health is a motivating factor for you, remind yourself of these benefits often. You may also want to visit websites that outline these benefits in detail. A good example is The Smoking Cessation Timeline: What Happens When You Quit.
Financial Benefits: Smoking is an expensive habit, and for some, the extra money they will have after quitting can be a great motivating factor. The financial benefits of quitting become apparent very quickly and focusing on them can help people who like instant rewards. If this sounds like you, then keep track of all the money you are saving by not buying cigarettes. After the first week, collect the money you have saved and buy yourself a treat. It can be a new piece or clothing, a nice meal, a massage, something you usually wouldn’t usually buy.
If you are more into long-term rewards, then put the money into a separate savings account, watch it grow over time, then use the money towards something in the future.
Cosmetic Benefits: Long-term smokers have yellowed teeth, more wrinkles and an increased risk of balding or graying hair. Think of how much better you will look in future years if you quit now.
Social and Cultural Benefits: Smoking is becoming less and less socially acceptable. Public venues in most developed countries are either smoke-free or have very limited smoking areas. Think of the extra freedom you will have when you are not limited to the smokers section or forced to go outside.
You may also want to focus on the benefits of improved relationships with your close non-smoking friends and family. These people will appreciate spending time with you that is no longer interrupted for the sake of smoke breaks. You will also be more enjoyable to be around because you will no longer carry the threat of secondhand smoke or smell like an ashtray anymore.
Get Some Exercise
- Take up a gentle exercise, such as walking, swimming or cycling. An increase in physical activity will boost your serotonin levels, help you deal with stress, and relieve depression and anxiety. Exercise will help your cardiovascular and respiratory systems and also aid in detoxification. Increasing your activity level will help you burn more calories and prevent the weight gain which can occur after quitting smoking.
- You may also want to consider weight-bearing exercise to help build your muscle mass which in time will help speed up your metabolism further.
Flush Out Toxins
- Drink a lot of water to help flush toxins from your system and to help minimize withdrawal symptoms.
- Go for a sauna; sweating releases the toxins from your body more quickly.
- Try a detox kit such as Supreme Herbal Cleanse, Ultimate Herbal Cleanse, Nature’s Secret 5 Day Fast and Cleanse, or Heel Homeopathic Detox Kit. These kits contain formulas to promote and assist the cleansing process of the body. They are also a good way to reset the body because after a cleanse most people are much less inclined to crave unhealthy foods and toxic substances. Some detox kits suggest dietary restrictions while using the formulas; others do not. These are the four kits I find most suitable to assist in quitting smoking, and out of them, you’ll probably find one that suits you.
Rest and Relax
- Make sure you get adequate rest. Do not skimp on sleep at this time – you will be able to handle things better when you are rested and rejuvenated.
- If you feel stressed out, take a calming bath, add some lavender essential oil and Epsom salts to provide extra relaxation effects.
- Take deep breaths throughout the day. Inhale deeply, then slowly exhale. A set of three deep breaths will help you relax and get through times of stress or cravings.
- If you can avoid it, do not place yourself in stressful situations the first few days after you have quit. Instead, partake in activities that are enjoyable to you.
- When a craving hits, keep your mind off it by engaging in an activity such as exercise or a hobby. Read a book or listen to some uplifting music. If you can distract your mind, the craving will most likely go away within a few minutes.
- Find an oral substitute if you miss having something in your mouth. You can chew gum or a toothpick, suck on candy or cloves, or munch on carrots or celery sticks. You can also try sipping herbal tea or other healthy beverages.
- Keep your hands and fingers busy. Squeezing a ball or holding a pencil can be a good substitute for the tactile sensation of having a cigarette in your hand.
Arrange a Support Network
- Don’t forget to include friends and family for support. Make a list of a few people you can call to help encourage you in times of distress. If you have friends of family members who have quit in the past, speak with them about how they quit and what help them stay motivated.
- Tell those close to you that you are quitting and you may not be yourself while you are having withdrawal symptoms. Once they have this understanding it will be much less likely that anyone will be hurt or offended should you become irritable or moody around them.
- Be aware of jealous friends/family/co-workers. Sometimes the strength and willpower in a person who is quitting smoking will trigger feelings of inadequacy in others who do not have the strength to quit. Seeing you quit may remind them of their addictions and inability to quit. Do not be offended if they do not congratulate you for quitting, and also do not let them manipulate you to start smoking again (misery love company). If you have people like this in your life, try to avoid them for the first few weeks. Stay strong and firm in your decision to quit even if others do not seem supportive.
- If you need extra support or encouragement consider seeking out a quit smoking program. Many programs are offered online or via telephone support; others have face to face meetings. See what is currently available to you by searching online for programs in your area. Many of these programs suggest quitting with drugs or Nicotine-Replacement Therapies, but even if you are choosing a more natural route to stop smoking, they can be a good option if you feel you need a little extra encouragement.
Here are few associations that offer quit smoking programs and support free of charge:
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Quit Now
– The American Lung Association – Freedom From Smoking
– American Cancer Society – Quit for Life
– National Cancer Institute – Smoke-Free
– Canadian Cancer Society – Smokers Helpline
– BC Lung Association – Quit Now
References and Resources:
- Allen Carr, Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking
- Peter and Peggy Holmes, Out of the Ashes: Help for People Who Have Stopped Smoking
- Andrea Baer, Quit Smoking for Good: A Supportive Program for Permanent Smoking Cessation
- Krumholz and Phillips, No Ifs, Ands, or Butts
- Donna Howell, The Unofficial Guide to Quitting Smoking
- Michael Lesser, M.D., The Brain Chemistry Plan
- David Hoffmann, The New Holistic Herbal
- James A. Duke, The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Comprehensive Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing
- Jethro Kloss, Back To Eden
- Jack Ritchason, Little Herb Encyclopedia: The Handbook of Nature’s Remedies for a Healthier Life
- Robert J. Green Jr., Natural Therapies for Emphysema and COPD: Relief and Healing for Chronic Pulmonary Disorders
- James and Phyllis Balch, Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements
- John Freeman, Energetics of Western Herbs
- University of Minnesota, Nicotine Addiction
- National Library of Medicine, Smoking Cessation
- Pahang Pharmacy, An E for Smokers
- Paul Bergner, Herbs to Aid in Nicotine Withdrawal
- NYU Langone Medical Center, Ginseng
- The University of Maryland Medical Center, Licorice
- drugs.com, Rhodiola rosea
- Howie Brounstein, Smoking Herbs to Quit Tobacco
- Clarkes R, Niacin for nicotine? The Lancet, 1980; 1(8174): 936.
- Constance J. DiFiglia, M.D., An Open Label Evaluation of the Tobacco Aversion Caused by Plantago Major Tincture in Subjects Who Are Heavy Smokers. Essex Testing Clinic Inc., Verona, NJ pp. 1-22, 1992.
- Mattioli L, Perfumi M, Evaluation of Rhodiola rosea L. extract on affective and physical signs of nicotine withdrawal in mice. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2009 November 25
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