SPOTLIGHT ON NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE: Are you ready to quit smoking?
Spring is here. A common New Year’s resolution is to quit smoking. You may have already tried or are waiting for a better time.
Since summer is just around the corner, focus on your goal now so you can enjoy breathing fresh air in a few months.
When you inhale cigarette smoke, nicotine speeds to your brain within seconds. This causes a release of dopamine, which causes happy and calm feelings. Since your body does not want this feeling to stop, you crave cigarettes when these unnatural elevations of mood drops, which can make you feel irritable. Although you know smoking is harming your health and you really want to quit, your body will continue to crave nicotine, and you will keep smoking.
Quitting a long-standing habit isn’t easy. Nicotine addiction is complex with both physical and mental symptoms of addiction. You need to prepare your mind that you are going to quit smoking and it is possible. Take steps now to plan your quit date.
Quitting Smoking Plan:
1. Record your smoking routines. How many cigarettes do you have per day and when? Do you smoke more or less on certain days? When do you smoke the most throughout the day? When you wake up, after you eat, driving in the car, etc.
2. Do you associate smoking with other habits like drinking alcohol, coffee, snacking at night, nail biting, watching TV, etc.
3. Make a list of ideas to avoid smoking triggers. Exercise, go outside and take deep breaths, avoid people who are smoking/the smell of smoke, chew gum, drink water,
4. What are your triggers to reach for a cigarette? Stress, hunger, coffee, alcohol, boredom, social gatherings, etc. Identify them and write them down.
5. How do you feel before you have a cigarette? Anxious, irritable, etc. How do you feel after smoking? Relaxed, happy, pressure in your chest, headache, etc. Pay attention to your breathing. Have you been taking small shallow breaths?
6. Make a list of things in your life that make you happy and relax. Use these ideas to help distract you from having a cigarette when you are faced with a trigger.
7. Record all the reasons you want to quit smoking. Financial, health, etc. Put it on your refrigerator and read it every day. Tell your friends and family that you are ready to quit and ask them for support.
8. Make a list of rewards to look forward to after you quit smoking for one day, one week, one month, three months, etc.
9. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you have a cigarette, don’t be discouraged. You have made a commitment, so quit again right away.
10. Ask for help. I’ve been helping my patients successfully quit smoking since 2004. There are many different treatment options available including homeopathic medicine for mental addiction, botanical medicine for physical addiction, and acupuncture for both. We will decide on a quit date together, based on your goals, determination and progress.
It will take some time, but if you truly are committed to a smoke-free life, you can do it.
Dr. Hornyak has been in private practice as a Licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine since 2006. For more information, phone the Norwich Medical Centre at 519-863-2338 or visit www.vitalforcenaturopathic.ca