Quitting smoking, as experienced by all of those who have tried, is very hard to do. This is due to the fact that smoking tobacco is both a physical addiction and a psychological habit, and you have to conquer it both physically and mentally in order fully quit.
Here’s the physical aspect of smoking addiction: The nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary, yet extremely addictive “high,” and eliminating that regular nicotine fix can cause your body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because of nicotine’s “feel good” effect on the brain, you may also have become accustomed to smoking as a way of coping with stress, depression, anxiety, or even boredom.
On the other hand, the act of smoking is ingrained as a daily ritual. This is where the psychological habit kicks in. It may be an automatic response for you to smoke a cigarette with your morning coffee, while taking a break from work or school, or during your commute home at the end of a long day. Perhaps, your friends, family members, and colleagues also smoke, and it has become part of the way you relate with them.
To successfully quit smoking, you need to address both the addiction and the habits and routines that go along with it. This is really hard to do, but with the right support and combination of strategies, any smoker can quit, even if you’ve tried and failed multiple times before.
Everybody knows that smoking is very bad for anyone’s health. Nearly 44 million or 19 percent of US adults smoke cigarettes, and cigarette smoking accounts for one of every five deaths in the US each year, which adds up to more than 440,000 deaths annually. Then again, studies have shown that the sooner you can quit smoking, the better your life expectancy could be. Then again, since smoking cessation is really hard, you do go through certain obstacles along the way.
One thing you can do effectively, however, is to resolve to smoking alternatives whenever your nicotine cravings kick in. Here are some of the alternatives that you can chose, instead of choosing another stick of cigarette.
Dopamine is one of the principal neurotransmitters in the brain. It causes the feelings of joy, pleasure, and satisfaction. This is the main hormone that nicotine and the act of smoking excretes. As a smoker on your way to quitting, the decrease in the amount of dopamine every time you choose to stop smoking is what attracts your unhealthy cravings. Therefore, keeping dopamine up can help you get rid of that craving to smoke.
Dark chocolate contains super-nutrients that can help stimulate the brain and make you feel “good.” This is when you know dopamine is working. This healthy sweet contains a combination of neurotransmitters that stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain. Considerably, it is an excellent smoking alternative because similar to cigarettes, dark chocolate helps increase dopamine levels in your brain, with the added benefit of doing so without compromising your lung function.
In addition, since dopamine is responsible for your feelings of pleasure, it can also help keep you motivated in reducing your cravings and ultimately ending your unhealthy habit. All in all, dark chocolate might be your best friend in your journey to quitting smoking.
Sugar-free Chewing Gum (and flavored Toothpicks)
The stimulation of chewing is one of the best ways to replace the oral fixation of smoking. Basically, it keeps your mouth busy. That’s why for many smokers, cigarettes are like pacifiers that they need to feel on their lips. Indeed, scientists have found that it’s not just the nicotine in cigarettes that gets people hooked. It can also be oral fixation as well (i.e. the sensation of having something in the mouth).
Chewing gum is a great alternative for people experiencing oral fixation relegated to smoking as it satiates the craving for working your mouth. It also keeps the acidity levels in the mouth balanced as it is good for your teeth and gums. Furthermore, it is best if you do consider chewing sugar-free gums, as the absence of sugar is also healthy.
Flavored toothpicks – yes, they do exist – work like sugar-free gum, in that they give your mouth quite a workout, while keeping your teeth clean and satisfying your oral fixation. These toothpicks come in a variety of flavors that can last for several hours. They are designed to curb a craving for cigarettes, and the fact that they’re made from birch wood or bamboo means they are completely organic.
E-cigarettes aren’t thought of as a 100 percent safe alternative, but most experts have found out that they’re less dangerous than cigarettes. Far less, as a matter of fact. E-cigarettes, vapes e-cigs, or concentrate vaporizers are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid — usually containing nicotine mixed with propylene glycol, glycerin, and chemical flavorings such as bubble gum or watermelon — into vapor that users can inhale. Though they still deliver nicotine to the body, e-cigs can be a healthier alternative without the deadly smoke.
The majority of the reason why you can opt to choose e-cigarettes is that they don’t produce smoke that could otherwise be toxic to a smoker’s body. E-cigs don’t burn, so people aren’t as exposed to those toxins unlike when they smoke cigarettes.
Take tar, for example. There is none present while vaping whereas smoking anything can produce a thick and toxic by product. If you blow cigarette smoke out on a napkin, as seen in various experiments, it would show a yellowish stain instantly. However, doing the same thing with “vape smoke,” the napkin is kept white, leaving little to no stain.
Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins. This includes nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and DDT. E-cigs or vapes are very unlikely to produce this amount of toxins, which makes them way less dangerous than smoking.
Yoga is one of the best alternatives to smoking, especially for those who tend to smoke when they’re stressed or tired. Many people smoke or start smoking due to psychological and emotional problems. This is where yoga comes in, as yoga is a powerful technique which helps best in overcoming these life-taking traumas and maintaining psychological and emotional balance in the body.
The deep breathing techniques of yoga neutralize the irresistible cravings for nicotine, which happen during the first days and weeks of quitting. Additionally, in terms of overall wellness (as overall wellness does help anyone quit smoking), choosing yoga creates awareness to lead a healthy life and to understand your own body. This awareness automatically lets you know that your body does not want these types of dangerous toxins. The same awareness brings great change and improvement to your diet and lifestyle. It’s the same with quitting smoking – you might realize how harmful it actually is if you’re more in tune with your body.
Studies have shown that Yoga cultivates determination and willpower in a smoker which are the primary strengths needed to quit smoking. Yoga, as a discipline, can guide a smoker toward a life of discipline and commitment to living a healthier lifestyle.