Dr. Qineng TanMore than 50 million Americans smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking kills more than 440,000 people every year in the U.S. If you are a current smoker, quitting is the biggest favor you can do for yourself. Once you plan to quit smoking, arm yourself with these four tools – be ready, get support, learn new skills and behaviors and be prepared for relapse. Be readyYou have to realize that you are fighting a strong addiction, not just a habit. In my many years of experience in helping people withdraw from addiction, I would say that the number one key to success is to be ready. So, sincerely ask yourself if you are ready to do this NOW. If so, set a quit date and stick to it. Try to avoid high stress days and holidays. You should choose a three-week period that is clear of any known deadlines or other stressors. Get supportSee your health provider for support and help. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs may help you detox, reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, headache, poor concentration, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, irritability and weight gain.Tell your coworkers, friends and family members that you are quitting smoking. Ask for their tolerance because you might be edgy or grumpy for a little while. Ask people to not smoke in front of you. Try attending Nicotine anonymous meetings. Learn new skills and behaviorsLearn a deep breathing technique. Practice it and repeat it any time you have a craving. Drink a lot of water or tea in the first week; it will help flush out the nicotine and other toxins from your body.Increase exercise. Go to a gym, sit in the steam, take a long walk or ride your bike daily. Chi-Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga are excellent for you and can increase a sense of calmness and well-being.Stay away from alcohol, sugar and coffee, as these tend to stimulate the desire for a cigarette. Avoid fatty foods and cheese. Eat many fresh vegetables, especially living greens. Eat enough protein. Change your eating habits. Try to eat small amounts of food every 2-3 hours. Eat slowly. Chew gum or suck on cinnamon sticks.Deep breathing. During deep breathing, repeat to yourself the affirmation “I am a non-smoker.” Do this several times a day. Remember that most of the urges to smoke will pass after five minutes.Avoid going to places where you will be tempted to smoke, such as bars and parties with smokers during the first few weeks of quitting. Prepare for relapseOnce you reach the third week goal without smoking, you are on your way! Be careful – nicotine is a powerful drug. From time to time, the urge to smoke may still occur and increase during the holiday season, with peer pressure and high stress levels. These kinds of urges may occur in the next 6-12 months, sometimes even 1-2 years. However, the craving intensity usually only lasts twenty seconds to five minutes. Use the same techniques (i.e. deep breathing) that you used when you were first quitting to overcome the desire.Special thanks to Dr. Maoshing Ni. Reprinted with permission from www.taoofwellness.com
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