How To Kick The Smoking Habit Naturally:
Each year over 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with lung cancer. Of course, not all lung cancer is due to cigarette smoking, but in about 90% of the cases this is known to be true. In fact, the smoking can contribute to the development of cancer anywhere in the body. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States.
Here are some other facts from the American Lung Association:
- Almost one third of deaths from coronary heart disease are attributable to smoking and secondhand smoke.
- About 20% of adult men and about 16% of adult women smoke.
- The highest percentage of people who smoke are between the ages of 21 and 34.
- About 54% of American children between the ages of 3-11 are exposed to secondhand smoke.
- On average, smokers die more than 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.
There are more than 5,000 chemical components found in cigarette smoke and hundreds of them are harmful to human health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are a few examples:
- Arsenic is used to preserve wood. Some arsenic compounds have been linked to cancer of the lung, skin, liver, and bladder.
- Benzene is used to manufacture other chemicals. It can cause cancer, particularly leukemia, in humans.
- Formaldehyde is used to make other chemicals and resins. It is also used as a preservative. Formaldehyde causes leukemia and cancer in respiratory tissues.
If these are truly the facts then why is it so darn hard to stop? Well, consider that smoking tobacco is both physically and psychologically habit forming and thus highly addictive. Tobacco smoke contains nicotine, a substance found naturally in tobacco. Once nicotine gets into the blood stream, either via inhalation, a skin patch, or gum, the substance travels quickly to the brain and can cause a feeling of temporary relaxation and stress relief. Nicotine can also elevate your mood and your heart rate. But this feeling is only temporary.
After your body rids itself of the drug, you start to crave more, just like any other strong addiction. Any addiction is hard to overcome, especially when the substance that you are addicted to is used to relieve stress and promote relaxation. But in the long run, smoking will only add to your stress by taking away your good health.
Are Electronic Cigarettes And Vaping Dangerous?
Vaping is a method a creating a vapor out of liquid, which is then inhaled. It is NOT safer than smoking and in fact may be MORE harmful as the heat needed to create the vapor can create new chemicals that are even more toxic to our bodies.
To successfully quit smoking, you may need to think through your stress-management options before you quit. Consider these tips:
- Stop and take a deep breath
Taking 5 to 10 deep breaths is a good start to stress relief. You also get the benefit of inhaling clean air into your lungs without those harmful chemicals. Many of us never learn to correctly breathe in order to properly oxygenate our bodies. Deep breathing can be very relaxing.
- Go for a walk
Physical activity can release chemicals into your body such as endorphins, which help to improve your mood and relieve stress. Walking for 30 minutes a day can be a healthy distraction, burn extra calories and help your heart. After a meal, get up immediately from the table and engage in a pleasurable activity.
- Try to relax
Stress can make your muscles tense. Relax them by stretching, deep breathing, doing yoga. Getting a massage or even closing your eyes and visualizing yourself in a peaceful place are also great ways to relax in your daily life. If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness meditation check out this article.
- Call a friend
Talking through your highs and lows with family, friends, or even a support group can give you comfort and positive reinforcement.
- Cut Back On Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase your heart rate and your anxiety. When you’re trying to manage your stress, caffeine can make you tense and keep you up at night leading to less sleep, which may cause you to want to smoke more. If coffee is your trigger, change something about the way you drink it. Change the mug you drink from or when and where you indulge. Start a new habit!
- Take Care Of Your Body
Drink lots of water, eat healthy and get enough sleep. Keep your hands and your mouth busy. Chew gum, eat a healthy snack, squeeze a stress ball or play with putty.
You owe it to yourself to take the best care of yourself possible.
- Rethink Your Social Breaks
If you smoke with friends to be social, it is important to tell them that you are trying to quit and ask them to help you stay committed. If it becomes too difficult to spend time in these places where you normally smoke, think about changing your routine and give yourself some variety.
All in all, recognizing that cigarette smoking leads to more harm than good, makes it a healthy decision to quit. So eat right, exercise, drink lots of water, sleep and by all means, KICK THE BAD HABITS…It’s never too late!
Here’s to the Best of Your Health!
Until next time,
Elizabeth Salada MD
Internal Medicine and Wellness