What is the most effective way to quit smoking?
For most tobacco users, tobacco cravings can be overpowering, but it is important not to succumb to these cravings. Although the cravings can feel intense and cause anxiety, they are temporary. With appropriate measures and a support system, with time, it is possible to permanently overcome the cravings and quit tobacco smoking or chewing.
- Nicotine replacement therapy: The options for nicotine replacement therapy include the following:
- Avoiding triggers: Situations during which one smoked or chewed tobacco, such as at parties, while drinking, or in stressful situations. Identifying trigger situations, avoiding them entirely, or coping with them by finding methods of distraction without using tobacco would help.
- Delaying and positive reinforcement: When a tobacco craving arises, delaying smoking or chewing tobacco by finding excuses or going to smoking-free areas till the craving disappears can help. Giving in to the feeling of “just one” can bring back the habit of smoking or tobacco chewing.
- Coping mechanisms: Various coping mechanisms can help overcome tobacco cravings. Chewing gum, candy, nuts, seeds, or anything chewy or crunchy can be helpful. Brushing teeth leaves a clean feeling in the mouth and can help get rid of cigarette/tobacco cravings. Distract oneself by doing other activities such as doing the dishes, watching TV, playing with pets, or talking to friends and family to overcome cravings.
- Physical activity and hobbies: Physical activity such as exercise, sports, yoga, brisk walks, and even dance can help create a distraction from tobacco cravings and reduce their intensity. If physical activity is not possible, cultivating hobbies such as writing, art, and craft or even chores can be equally helpful.
- Stress management: Stress management is essential for those who had the habit of smoking or chewing tobacco and those who develop cravings due to stress. Managing stress by practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises, yoga, visualization, massage, or listening to calming music can help.
- Diet: Drinking plenty of fluids and green tea and avoiding coffee and black tea especially during the first few days of quitting can help flush out nicotine faster. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can help improve digestion and overall health and combat tobacco cravings.
- Finding a support system: Connecting with friends and family can help stay motivated and cope. Doing activities with friends and family can help distract from cravings. One may also consider working with a professional therapist to help suppress cravings and manage stress. There are various support groups available online and offline where people can help each other quit tobacco.
- Remind oneself of the benefits: Constantly reminding oneself of the benefits of quitting tobacco by either writing them down or saying them out loud will be helpful. The benefits could be things such as getting healthier, sparing loved ones from second-hand smoking, and saving money.
- Positive reinforcement: Rewarding oneself after overcoming a craving can help stay motivated.
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