If you are reading this post right now, then you know that smoking is bad for you. You know you should quit. You likely have loved ones that want you to quit. You know you are endangering your health and the health of others around you. You know you need to quit.
But it’s so hard isn’t it? It’s easy to overlook the cold hard facts about smoking. We’re bombarded with facts everywhere – from television and radio advertisements to guerilla marketing in the streets, to the advice of family or friends. You just can’t get away from people telling you that smoking is bad.
Maybe that’s a good thing. Smoking is one of the biggest causes of preventable disease and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking results in “more than 480,000 premature deaths and over $300 billion in direct health care expenditures and productivity losses each year.”
The Stats on Smoking
Right now, nearly 20 million women in the United States smoke cigarettes. Did you know that a female smoker’s risk of disease and death is actually greater than a man’s risk?
The CDC states that between 1964 and 2014, “a woman’s risk of dying from smoking has MORE THAN tripled.” If that’s not scary enough, consider these additional facts from the CDC:
- 200,000 women die every year from smoking-related disease
- Women smokers over the age of 35 have a slightly higher risk of death from heart disease than men who smoke
- Female smokers are more likely to die from COPD than male smokers
Long story short, smoking is bad and it’s even worse for women, it seems.
The good news is that smoking among U.S. adults has decreased by over 5 million people in the last 9 years. This means there are less people smoking and more people quitting. If they can do it, you can too.
That’s what I’m here to share with you today. So let’s start the only way I know how; with the natural approach. When people first started asking me for advice on how to quit smoking once and for all, I had to find out, what are some natural ways to quit smoking?
Conventional Smoking Cessation Aids
Back in the early 90s, the popular go-to for many smokers was Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, NRTs such as the nicotine patch or nicotine gum were the “first pharmacological treatments approved by the FDA for smoking cessation.”
You can imagine the popularity of these treatments when they first came on the market. Later, medications like Chantix and Zyban were also developed.
These treatment options have helped thousands of people quit smoking and can be discussed with your physician if you feel they might be a good fit for you. Keep in mind, the side effects can be severe and plentiful with these treatments so please weigh all your options before committing.
However, the side effects of continuing to smoke are likely much worse. At least the medication treatments are short-term and will stop you from a long-term addiction.
Natural Ways to Quit Smoking
I’m going to guess that if you landed here on the Health Ambition site, you’re looking for a natural way to quit smoking. Lucky for you there is tons of advice out there on how to successfully accomplish this. As always, I’m here to tell you about it!
Preparation is Key
While most people think that quitting starts from the moment you finish that last cigarette, that is far from the truth. To have the best chance of success, you should go through a thorough preparation period to get your body, and more importantly your mind, ready for what is to follow.
Some people quit cold turkey without a prior thought and handle it just fine. Others need planning, assistance and time.
5 Ways to Prepare Yourself to Quit Smoking
1. Discover Your “Why”
I think the most important thing a smoker can do as they start their journey is to figure out why they are doing it. How do you figure that out? It comes down to asking yourself some simple, yet extremely meaningful and helpful questions:
- WHY are you quitting?
- WHY is quitting important to you?
- WHY is this time going to be different?
- WHY are you ready to make this change?
Answering these simple questions will get your mind in the right space. It will remind you why you have decided to do this, who you are doing it for and why you are going to succeed.
Maybe you are quitting for health reasons or because you don’t want to set a bad example for your children. Maybe you are quitting because you had a loved one die from a smoking-related illness or maybe you are just sick and tired of being dependent on nicotine.
No matter what your reason is, take time to get intimate with it. Hang out with it, get to know if for a while and then be ready to pull that “why” out of your pocket every time you need to tell yourself or someone else why you aren’t having a cigarette.
Luckily your answers to those “why” questions will be there to help you in the dark and difficult times in your journey.
2. Track Your Current Habit
Something you can do, even before you have your last cigarette, is monitor your current behaviors. Tracking your smoking habit is a great way to see when, where and how your smoking habits occur. I know for lots of my friends, they often mindlessly smoked due to boredom, anxiety or social situations.
Identifying the things you might be doing mindlessly can be helpful. Try it out by asking these questions and then tracking yourself for a week or two.
- What time of the day are you smoking?
- What triggers the need to smoke?
- Are you smoking out of habit, for social reasons, boredom, etc.?
- How often are you smoking?
- Where are you smoking?
- With whom are you smoking?
Pinning down all of these points can be very eye-opening. Sure you might know that drinking alcohol causes you to smoke more, but who are you with when that happens? Where are you when that happens? Getting intimate with your habit’s surroundings can really help you when you actually quit.
3. Tell Friends and Family about Your Decision
There is nothing like good old accountability to keep you on task. Publicly acknowledging that you are trying to kick a habit is a great way to do this. Tell your friends and family, or even post on social media. This step can be a great way to hold yourself accountable to your goals. You are going to be much more motivated throughout the process and eager to not let others down.
You can even go so far as to create your own smoke-free accountability group. Accountability groups are successful because you can have a group of like-minded individuals, eager to accomplish the same goal. The camaraderie you develop with each other can pull you all up in a positive direction.
4. Fill your Smoke-Free Tool Box
In this day and age there are plenty of tools available on your computer, your smartphone or even in your town or city that can help you quit. Check out the following tools you can plan to have on hand before you start.
- Smoking apps on your phone that help you quit
- Nicotine Anonymous 12-step Recovery Program
- Toll-free hotlines through the CDC
- Cold-Turkey Quitters Support Group
5. Learn to Manage Your Triggers and Cravings
Knowing triggers in advance can help you learn to deal with them. Triggers can come in different forms such as emotions, habits or social situations. If you know certain emotions like anxiety, stress or loneliness cause you to reach for a cigarette, start brainstorming new ways to ease those troublesome feelings.
Perhaps triggers come when you are in the midst of daily habits like drinking a coffee on the way to work, or while drinking alcohol or talking on the phone. If you can identify these situations ahead of time, you can be more aware of subconsciously reaching for a smoke.
Lastly there can be social triggers like certain social events, bars and or even hanging in a group of smokers. You might have to plan to avoid these places initially, especially if you know it will be too hard to stay strong. Slowly reintroduce yourself once your cravings are under control.
After you prepare to quit, then comes the time when you just have to do it. You will eventually smoke your last cigarette. The cravings will kick in. The feeling that you won’t succeed will be in the forefront of your mind. The thought that maybe you don’t want to succeed will also be there.
Instead try these 4 things in order to stay occupied without resorting to medicated relief or alternate addictions.
4 Things to Do Once You’ve Quit
1. Stay Busy
Idle hands are the devil’s playground. The most important thing you can do, especially in the early days is stay busy. Now is a great time to pick up a new hobby, try a new sport, scout out a new park or theater or even try a new form of transportation, like a bicycle, to get to work.
Speaking of biking, exercise is an amazing way to spend your time now that you aren’t smoking. Not only will you get out some pent-up frustration but you’ll also brighten your mood, increase your strength and stamina and help out your overall health and well-being.
3. Avoid Smoke-Filled Events, People and Restaurants
A great thing to keep in mind during this time is smoke-free establishments. You probably don’t want to stay busy by checking out a new smoke-filled bar down the street.
Plan your smoke-free playtime in places where smoking is not allowed; places like a movie theater, the library, a bookstore, museum, art gallery or even a local gym or pool.
4. Don’t Take One Single Puff
At some point in time you will likely be so overcome with the urge to smoke that you’ll think, I just need one puff. Don’t do it. I beg you. That one puff could send you into a downward spiral.
For me, I had the occasional cigarette here and there in my younger days but I never developed an addition or urge past that. My dad however, smoked most of his life and after quitting 5 years ago has told me that if he had even 1 cigarette, he’d be at the store buying a carton a minute later.
We are all different, you know yourself and what you can handle. Just be smart about it and always go back to your “why.”
Even with all this preparation and these great tactics in place, without the aid of medication or NRTs, quitting cold turkey can still be extremely difficult. The good news is there are tons of other natural helpers out there waiting for you.
5 Natural Ways to Quit Smoking
When it comes to quitting you have to try what works best for you. Aside from giving it the good old college try you can also solicit assistance from some natural tactics said to help with quitting your smoking habit.
The Quit Smoking Community discusses the 5 best ways to quit smoking naturally, they include:
- Grape Juice
Water helps flush toxins out of your body and gives you that extra boost your body so desperately needs as it rids itself from years of nicotine abuse.
Ginger is a great aid for an upset stomach. When quitting, people often complain of an upset stomach. Ginger is a great way to help with that symptom.
Grape juice has acids that naturally detoxify your body and along with water can help clean your body of toxins more quickly.
Ginseng is said to help control cravings, along with many other benefits:
If you are looking for some more spiritual assistance with quitting, give these two options a try.
1. Meditation and Mantras
I talk time and time again, in many of my blog posts, about the importance, significance and benefits of meditation. You’d be remiss to ignore all the benefits meditation has to offer.
Mantras are something I don’t discuss quite as often but they are something I totally use in everyday life. Finding a mantra that you connect with, learning it and then repeating it daily or during triggers or cravings can really help move you through the tough parts of quitting cigarettes.
2. Smoking Cessation Retreat
Want to take a more relaxing and Zen approach to quitting? Try out a Smoking Cessation Retreat. You can have your choice between an outdoorsy fitness-based retreat or a more spiritual, soul-searching retreat. Either way you’ll be surrounded by plenty of like-minded people trying to kick their smoking habit just like you.
It’s a great way to make lifelong friends, gain new insight, receive counseling and help with behavior modification. If you aren’t up for a week-long retreat you can always check to see if a smoking cessation day clinic is available in your area.
While trying to quit smoking might be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do, it is certainly not impossible. By preparing beforehand, discovering your why and using all the tools in your smoke-free toolbox, you’ll be well on your way to being nicotine-free.
Remember that preparation, acknowledgement of your current surroundings, and getting in touch with why you are doing this, will be the ultimate tools to success.
So what do you think? Are you ready to kick your habit for good and experience a life of health and freedom from addiction? I hope so. We are all ready, willing and waiting to help you on your journey.
If you are in the process of quitting or thinking about quitting, please comment below so we can hear your struggles and your story.