A Holistic Approach to Quitting Smoking

Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 10:55 AM

The week of January 20 to 26, 2019, marks National Non-Smoking Week in Canada. This week is intended to educate Canadians on the dangers of smoking, prevent people from picking up the habit, and encourage those who smoke to quit.

The goal of National Non-Smoking Week is to promote a smoke-free society in Canada. However, as many smokers who are trying to quit know, quitting is easier said than done.

While there are many routes people can take to stop smoking, such as prescription medication, support groups, and behavioural therapy, there are also holistic approaches.

The following are holistic approaches that could help you quit smoking. It is important to also consult with your health care professional to create an appropriate plan to help you quit smoking.

Self-administered Acupressure

Acupressure points associated with stress and anxiety reduction can be effective when quitting smoking. Stimulating acupoints that reduce stress and anxiety when cravings become bad can help distract you from your urge to smoke.

Acupoints can be massaged or otherwise stimulated for 30 seconds to a minute at a time, anytime the urge to smoke arises. As the urge to smoke decreases, you can also decrease the number of times you stimulate these points throughout the day.


Close-up of foot reflexology being administered

Reflexology promotes relaxation in the body and can significantly reduce irritability and anxiety associated with nicotine withdrawal.

If you are trying to quit smoking, it is recommended you receive reflexology several times a week — or whenever you have the urge to smoke — to help cope with the stress and clear the mind of urges.

The solar plexus point is associated with immediate stress control, which can be an important point when quitting smoking. Activating this point will help reduce levels of stress and improve the tolerance of stress in the body.

Since dealing with stress is one of the main challenges to quitting smoking, this point can help your body and mind adjust to a more relaxed state.

The adrenal gland point is associated with coping with long-term stress, something that can be important for successfully quitting smoking. Smokers often experience chronic stress and cope by having a cigarette. Focusing reflexology on the adrenal gland point can help provide long-term stress relief.

Physical Activity

Getting active is one of the most effective ways to fight cravings when you're trying to quit smoking.

Studies have shown that short periods of physical activity significantly reduce the urge for a cigarette, especially when it is aerobic activity. Physical activity can also help you cope with the stress that will likely arise when quitting.

Exercising also helps you by setting goals to work towards, which can be a great distraction from the challenges of quitting smoking.

Not only does exercise help you combat cravings, there are many other benefits to it that can help you quit. Aerobic exercise makes you sweat, makes your heart pump faster, and increases your breathing.

This physical response strengthens your heart and lungs and also causes an endorphin release in the brain. These endorphins — or happy chemicals — clear your mind and make you feel even better than you did while smoking a cigarette!

Try to set aside a regular time to exercise; this will help you develop a healthy habit and remain consistent about it. Set goals for what you want to achieve. Whether it is doing 100 sit-ups, running 5 kilometers, or doing 5 pull-ups, having goals will keep you motivated to keep active.

If you don't enjoy the gym, try activities that you enjoy instead, like yoga or dancing or walking the dog.

Relaxation and Meditation

For many smokers, having a cigarette is a way deal with stress. The decision to quit smoking and resist the craving can be stressful in itself. However, developing meditation and relaxation practices that don't involve smoking can be essential to quitting.

Develop a meditation practice by taking 5 to ten minutes a day to practise deep breathing while scanning your body for tension. Having a consistent meditation practice is an effective way to reduce anxiety and stress and promote mindfulness.

Practising deep breathing can also be an effective way to help you relax. If you are having a craving, take the time to breathe deeply instead of reaching for a cigarette.

Yoga is also an effective way to help develop a relaxation and meditation practice. Not only does yoga focus on the breath, but it also emphasizes the importance of meditation and taking time to do something for you.

Yoga is also a form of physical activity and could be a great distraction when cravings arise.

Deciding to quit smoking is a big step towards a happier, healthier life. If you are trying to quit smoking, don't be discouraged by the challenges that you may face in the process. Take each day as a step towards bettering yourself and your health!

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