Thursday, February 27, 2014

Activities To Prevent Smoking

Finding alternate activities can be an effective way to reduce the urge to smoke.

Breaking the habit of smoking can be a difficult and daunting task under any circumstances, especially when individuals have the opportunity to smoke during their free time. You can ease the temptation to smoke by filling up free time with a variety of different activities; with the support of family and friends, these options may help those trying to quit stay focused on their goal.

Find Support

Getting support from your family or friends in addition to outside sources can be an effective way to help you stay motivated. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) suggests letting your family and friends know the date you plan to quit so they can help remind you and support you as necessary. There are also smoking cessation hotlines such as 1-800-QUITNOW that provide free support to individuals, as well as government websites such as that also provide free resources and guides. Spending time around your friends who are non-smokers or joining a support group may also help reinforce your decision to quit.

Choose Alternate Activities

The NHLBI recommends trying new activities that will keep your hands occupied; these activities can be specifically geared toward your interests or hobbies. For instance, those with artistic interests may try knitting or crocheting, painting, drawing, or sculpting. Those with an interest in carpentry may try woodworking. Even purchasing a small instrument like a keyboard or clarinet can keep your hands busy while learning something new. East Carolina University (ECU)'s tip sheet on quitting smoking also suggests activities that replace the feel or sensation of a real cigarette; if you enjoy the feeling of a cigarette in your hand, try holding a pencil or pen or even a fake cigarette instead. Keeping lollipops, gum, or something else to chew on will keep your mouth occupied.

Changing Stimuli

Quitting smoking can be harder if you rely on it for certain outcomes such as reducing stress or gaining an energy boost. However, it is easy to change the stimuli that produce these outcomes from cigarettes to something healthier and less addictive. For example, ECU's tip sheet advises that individuals who smoke for an energy boost should try chewing gum, taking a quick walk or completing some short exercises such as yoga, stretching or light cardio workouts to replace the usual nicotine boost. Champaign County's tobacco cessation program suggests that individuals who smoke for reducing or reliving stress should try deep breathing techniques, relaxation or meditation and positive self-talk. Getting enough sleep can also help reduce stress.

Products and Medicines

If finding alternate activities isn't enough to stop your urge to smoke, the Champaign County Tobacco Prevention Coalition's self-directed tobacco cessation program suggests trying a multitude of smoking cessation products, available over the counter from a pharmacy or by prescription from your doctor. Those obtainable without a prescription include the nicotine patch and gum, which release small amounts of nicotine into your bloodstream. Nicotine nasal sprays and inhalers are also available with a prescription from your doctor, as well as Zyban, which is an oral medication that simulates the pleasure of nicotine in the brain and can be used a week or two before you plan to quit smoking.

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