It needs no retelling that smoking is extremely injurious to health. According to the World Health Organization, the tobacco epidemic is “one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 8 million people a year around the world. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.”
Despite knowing this, many people struggle to quit the habit, says Dr Yogesh Kumar, an alternative medicine practitioner who consults on Practo. “Nicotine found in the tobacco, when inhaled, travels quickly to the brain, releasing dopamine and other feel-good chemicals. Hence, when one tries to quit, the withdrawal symptoms kick in, which sometimes may even lead to depression and other problems until you get your next hit,” he tells indianexpress.com.
The trick, he says, lies in gradually providing the brain less and less nicotine; and this is where nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine patches, lozenges, chewing gum, inhalers, and nasal sprays come into play.
This No Smoking Day, if you have resolved to fight the urge to smoke, Dr Kumar has some simple tips for you.
Here are a few strategies to fight the unhealthy habit:
Make a list of reasons: Write down the reasons why you want to quit smoking; make the list as specific as possible. If you are concerned about passive smoking affecting your child’s health, write that down and their names to make it more personal.
Watch your money grow: The amount of money you spend on smoking could be huge, and seeing how much money you can save by not smoking can be great encouragement. It is usually not enough to tell yourself that you are saving money. So take the money you would normally spend on smoking and put it in a special account so that you can see how quickly it actually grows.
Set a date: Just wanting to quit is not enough. You need to set a plan and goal; hence a date is essential. Some people wait for important dates to make a change.
Make a list of substitutes: After quitting, you may feel the urge to smoke at times — on your way back home from work, after meals etc. So, make a list of alternative activities you could do to keep your mind and hands busy.
Have those conversations: Tell your spouse, friends, co-workers about your plans and allow them to help you when you need it.
Reach out: Have you reached out to those who have successfully quit? If not, then you must for support. You could try online forums or help and support groups for the same.
Start new activity: Take up any form of physical activity to fight those cravings and also keep yourself healthy and occupied.
Eat: Once those cravings kick, you would want to put anything inside your mouth. So make sure you have some healthy munchies on you so that you are not tempted by junk. Skip those salty and sugary snacks.
Wash and purge: A day before your quitting date, take some time to wash everything you can, including your clothes. Once you have quit you, will realise how you now notice the smell of clean things. Conversely, if you keep things unwashed, the smell of cigarettes can only spark your old cravings.
Stop smoking: Remind yourself that you are no longer a smoker. Keep going back to your list of reasons as to why you quit and repeat the above list until you are successful.