The 10 Best Ways to Stop Smoking You've Never Tried
If you want to be smoke-free amid the coronavirus pandemic, try these tips to quit smoking.
As far as bad habits go, smoking is easily one of the worst: It increases your blood pressure and heart rate, thickens your blood, and inhibits the amount of oxygen circulating through your body by narrowing your arteries. All of these factors significantly increase your chance of heart attack or stroke. In fact, having just one cigarette a day can significantly shorten your lifespan. Even knowing all the horrible health problems smoking can cause, however, once you've become addicted to nicotine, quitting isn't nearly as easy as it sounds. But there's no better time to quit smoking than right now amid the coronavirus pandemic, when staying healthy—and keeping your lungs strong—is paramount. So even if you've had difficulty in your past attempts to stop smoking, there's still hope for success with these 10 ways to quit smoking that you've never tried. And for more on why it's important to ditch cigarettes ASAP, learn the 10 Health Risks You Can't Afford to Take Amid the Coronavirus.
Change your brand.
Fiona Lamb, a clinical hypnotherapist who specializes in addiction, suggests changing your brand of cigarettes, because "if they taste differently to what you're used to, it'll start to break-up your habits, making them more malleable to change in the long-run."
Delay your first cigarette of the day.
Another necessary part of the process, according to Lamb, is mustering the willpower to delay your first cigarette of the day. Doing so "gets your nicotine dependence down, as it forces your body to go for longer in the day without it," she says. And for more things you need to phase out of your life right now, here are 7 Bad Habits Experts Say Are Even Worse in the Age of Coronavirus.
Cut back on caffeine.
According to Lamb, you should also try to cut back on your caffeine intake. "High amounts of coffee per day increases the amount of tension in your already frenetic nervous system," she says. And an oft-cited 2007 study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research found that caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and soda can actually enhance the taste of cigarettes.
Drink more milk.
Perhaps the most unusual quitting hack Lamb offers is this: Drink a glass of milk with every cigarette.
According to the same 2007 study, while alcohol and coffee seem to enhance the taste of cigarettes, dairy products such as milk and cheese make them taste terrible. So, if you're looking to quit, try pairing your next smoke with a glass of whole milk. You might be surprised to find how quickly you end up putting out that cigarette and brushing your teeth instead. And for more advice you should be paying attention to, make sure you know these 9 Terrible Health Tips to Ignore Right Now, According to Experts.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
In addition to dairy products, the 2007 study found that 16 percent of participants reported that fruits and vegetables significantly worsened the taste of cigarettes. Along with adding these foods to your diet, you may also want to drink more water or juice, both of which worsened the taste of cigarettes among 14 percent of study participants.
Change your habits.
A big part of nicotine addiction is centered around the ritual—or the specific environments and situations in which you find smoking to be most enjoyable or comforting. That's why the website Quit recommends changing things up in your daily routine to reduce your urge to smoke.
"The same locations, cafes, or foods can remind you of smoking and bring on a craving," the quitting-support site says. "Try to create new smoke-free memories. If your common breakfast is to have a coffee and a cigarette, break the connection by trying a new breakfast in a different spot. Change the furniture around or do a spring clean. Breaking habits can help you to say goodbye to the smokes for good."
Explore alternative therapies.
The fact of the matter is that when it comes to kicking your nicotine addiction, there's no one surefire way to do it successfully. Certain methods work wonders for some, but don't do a thing for others. It's up to you to experiment with different approaches in order to find the one (or ones) that work best for you personally. And while there's not a ton of scientific evidence that proves the effectiveness of alternative therapies, many smokers have found things like acupuncture, hypnosis, magnet therapy, cold laser therapy, yoga, and meditation to be enormously helpful on their journey to becoming smoke-free.
Try behavioral support.
Quitting smoking, like ridding yourself of any other chemical addiction, is a challenge that's made even harder when you try to do it alone. Seeking additional support from counseling, smoking cessation groups, and other similar resources can greatly improve your chances of success. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) even has a website designed to help you quit with tools like a free hotline, texting programs, and a live chat feature so you don't have to go through this difficult process alone.
As simple as it sounds, Quit says that going for a walk when you feel a craving coming on can actually reduce the desire to smoke. "Got a craving? Take a walk, do some stretches or take a bike ride," the site says. "Exercise is one of the best ways to smash cravings and ease stress and anxiety. Take up a new sport or exercise and make it something you enjoy."
Pick a quit date.
None of the methods described in this article will be useful if you don't commit to the decision that you're going to quit—or at least that you're going to give it your all in your attempt to do so. Once you've made that decision, start by picking a date when you'll begin quitting process, and stick to it!
To hold yourself accountable, in preparation for your quit date, the American Cancer Society recommends taking certain steps, including telling your friends, family, and coworkers about your quit date; deciding whether you are going go "cold turkey" or use nicotine substitutes or medications; and, if you've tried quitting before, thinking about the things that worked for you and the things that didn't. Finally, remember that quitting doesn't happen overnight—it is very much a journey. Don't let yourself get discouraged.