Today, almost 44 million adults in the United States (19 percent) smoke cigarettes.
One in five deaths per year is caused by cigarette smoking, adding up to over 440,000 deaths annually.
It’s no wonder cigarette smoking is now one of the leading causes of mortality in the country.
If you are a smoker, the best thing you can do is to quit immediately. According to research, no matter what your age, quitting can be highly beneficial.
For example, if you stop smoking before age 40, your risk of dying can be reduced by up to 90 percent.
Quitting before age 30 has more positive results, as 97 percent of the excess mortality vanishes.
Being Healthy Is the First Step to Quitting
Quitting may seem next to impossible to you now, but studies found that two-thirds to three-quarters of ex-smokers were able to stop unaided, which is why going cold turkey may be the best way to get rid of this vice.
However, it is extremely important for you to get healthy first, as it can make quitting much, much easier and can help you adjust to a cigarette-free lifestyle.
Follow these basic steps to become healthy:
1. Eat a nutritious, wholesome diet.
Focus on getting your nutrients from raw organic foods, while avoiding processed foods and junk foods that are loaded with empty calories, additives, and high amounts of sugar.
Due to the increased oxidative stress from cigarette smoke, smokers may require more vitamin C than non-smokers. According to the USDA’s Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), smokers should consume almost 39 percent more vitamin C than non-smokers.
The best sources of vitamin C are fresh, raw vegetables and fruits. However, if you feel as if you’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables to get the recommended amount of vitamin C, you could also have vitamin C administered intravenously (IV) or take an oral vitamin C supplement.
2. Follow a well-rounded exercise regimen.
People who engage in regular strength training are can double their success rate of quitting smoking compared to those who don’t exercise.
Related: 4 Benefits Of Interval Training
However, you shouldn’t solely focus on strength training. Incorporate other exercises as well, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), core strengthening exercises, stretching, and aerobics.
3. Look for a healthy emotional outlet.
Smokers often grab a cigarette in times of stress. For this reason, if you want to stop smoking, you must manage your stress and clear out emotional blockages from your system.
Some of the best techniques include exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques, yoga, and the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
EFT is a psychological acupressure-like (but non-invasive) tool that focuses on tapping specific meridians with your fingertips while voicing positive affirmations.
Related: 7 Benefits Of Positive Thinking
Quitting can be quite difficult at first, but you’ll be surprised at how it will greatly improve your health. In fact, you’ll even notice some of the benefits right away:
- Within 20 minutes after quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate drop
- Twelve hours after quitting, your carbon monoxide blood levels will drop to normal
- Three months after quitting, you’ll have increased lung function
- Nine months after quitting, your shortness of breath and coughing decrease
- Within a year after quitting, your heart disease risk drops
- Within five years after quitting, related cancer risks are cut in half
6 Additional Strategies to Help You Banish Cigarette Cravings
The first few hours, days, or weeks of quitting smoking can be the most difficult, as you will be struggle with severe withdrawal symptoms. TIME recommends these effective strategies to help you cope with nicotine cravings:
1. Chew on carrots.
A healthy snack can help you overcome nicotine cravings. Opt for fresh veggies like celery, radishes, and bell pepper slices.
It releases natural feel-good endorphins that can help ease your stress and anxiety.
Related: 10 Ways You Can Reduce Stress
3. Take a shower.
This will give you a sense of calm. Feeling fresh and clean may also make you think twice about lighting up a cigarette.
4. “Snap” away your cravings.
Wear a rubber band around your wrist, and if you feel as if you’re giving in to a craving, snap it. The sting will distract and remind you why you’re quitting.
5. Listen to music.
Your favorite relaxing tunes will help you mellow out. You can also try listening and dancing to upbeat songs to keep your energy level up and banish cravings.
6. Spend time with people who care about you.
Surrounding yourself with friends and family members who support your choice to stop smoking can help distract you from cravings and keep you focused on your goal.
Related: The Benefits Of Friendship
It can be tough, but as long as you stay focused on your goal, you will successfully get over this challenge and eventually achieve optimal health. With these tips, you can stop smoking…starting today.
Photo by chaserdr