Friday, March 1, 2013

How to Quit Smoking

Since you're reading this post, I'll automatically assume that you or someone you love smokes.  But, before you go any further in this post, I'm going to be extremely honest with you.  Unless YOU or whomever you are sending this too, TRULY wants to quit, these tips aren't going to do much for you.  The truth is quitting smoking is hard.  This is coming from a woman who has quit smoking dozens of times since high school.   I started the Stress + Fear = Smoking cycle way early and I have to say it's one of the biggest reasons why I'm such a meditation junkie now.

The stuff I have listed below will help you with cravings and crankiness, and should take the edge off some of the more nasty physical effects of quitting an addictive substance.  I won't go too much into the negative effects of smoking or how great your body does when you stop, because honestly you could google that topic to death.  What I do want to do, is give you some advice that has been seriously helpful for me when I FINALLY quit smoking for good.

But before we begin, I want you to do something for me.  Right now, go grab a paper and a pen (or marker, crayon...) and I want you to write yourself a promise that you are going to try as hard as you can to stop smoking.  Then list the serious reasons why you are done with it.  Sign it and post it somewhere you can see often.  When you start to feel like you can't handle it, read your note and feel the dedication you started with.  Let it follow you through the entire process.

Side Effects of Quitting Smoking and How to Deal with Them.

#1. General Attitude of Crankiness - While I don't have a cure for the idiot who takes too long at the coffee shop, there a few things you can do to avoid going agro.  Breathe Awareness is a form of meditation that I use often, whenever I'm feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or I feel like yelling at the extreme couponer in front of me at the grocery store. Ya, I have issues with lines.  Which brings me to my next point.  Avoid lines like the plague.  Drive through, self-checkout, cook your own meals, clean your own house.  I notice that quite often the source of my bitchiness has to do with impatience.  So if you don't want to yell at anyone, do it yourself to begin with.

If you have little kids, the best advice I can give you is to make sure that stuff is set out ahead of time.  Make meals ahead of time, set out clothes the night before.  Make it really easy for your kids to comply.  Also, don't avoid them.  They will come find you.  If little Rosie wants to show you her doll, make a big deal of it, give her hugs and kisses and whoops of approval.  She'll toddle away happy and you'll get peace for longer.  If you try and avoid her, she follow you around the house all day with random things to show you and then you'll get frustrated and yell.  All she wants is attention and love, try to remember that.

#2. Anxiety, even to the point of Palpitations - Withdrawals from any addictive substance can come out as extreme anxiety, panic attacks, even heart palpitations.  Of course if your experiencing chest pain, by all means see a DOCTOR. But if what you're feeling is nervous, obsessive, shaky energy, it's probably anxiety. When I quit smoking I would notice episodes of anxiety and palpitations around the first weeks of quitting smoking.  You can still get them later in the month, but I notice they are much milder and easier to deal with. 

Your best herbal friend at this point is going to be Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca).  Oh how I LOVE this herb for palpitations and anxiety.  It's like a big ol Mother bear hug when I take it.  I prefer to get it in capsules, because it's easier for me to take outside of the home, but you can get it as an herbal extract or drink it as a tea (beware, it's pretty bitter).  During the first few days I took a normal dosage of 2 capsules,3 times a day.  Then I would take 1-3 capsules as needed during the rest of the month.  I found one capsules was great to take the edge off, two for more serious anxiety or panic, and three if it's right before bed and my heart is doing flip flops.  Pair it with sniffing relaxing essential oils like Lavender  or Orange to cheer you up and practice Breath Awareness until you calm down.  Motherwort is not for pregnant ladies though, so if you are trying to quit smoking because you found out you are pregnant, try to stick to really gentle relaxing herbal teas like chamomile or oatstraw.

Doesn't this look amazing?! Click to get the recipe.
#3. Cravings! Crunchy, Salty, Sweet - Before you quit smoking I highly suggest going to the grocery store and stocking up on easy to make, healthy snacks.  It'll make a big difference when you've only gained 5 lbs instead 15!  No lie, when most people quit smoking, whether they over eat or not, they tend to gain some weight.  So do yourself a favor and fill the house with good things to eat.  It's much easier to not worry so much about weight gain by eating healthy foods, than to sit and feel guilty after you've had your second candy bar of the day.  Make a list of healthy stuff you LOVE, that also contains the three different cravings: crunchy, salty, sweet. My personal list consists of: strawberries, peaches, bananas, grapes, watermelon, pistachio nuts, celery and/or apples & peanut butter, veggie chips, avocados, hard boiled eggs, Sweet & Spicy Herbal Tea and of course a little dark chocolate.  You get the point.

#4. Constipation - The other great benefit of eating tons of fruits and veggies and healthy things, is it'll help you with the evil constipation that come with quitting smoking.  FACT: Smoking makes you poop. Why? The chemicals in cigarettes, mainly the nicotine, act as a stimulant to the body (which is why coffee also makes you poop). Once nicotine hits your system it increases activity in the intestines, increases saliva, and increases bronchial activity. In other words, it stimulates your entire digestive system to the point where you have to poo.  Now if you are one of those unfortunate souls to get a serious bout of constipation, I would consider going the herbal route rather than the fiber route.  What you need is something to stimulate peristalsis, the wavy contraction of your soft muscle that pushes stuff through your digestive tract, not fill it with more stuff.  There are tons of herbal laxatives out there, but the most pleasant one (physically and taste wise) that I've found is Chocolate Smooth Move tea by Traditional Medicinals.  But, if you are quitting smoking because you found out you are pregnant ( I am SO freaking proud of you!!!), steer clear of most herbal laxatives because they can cause contractions, take Yellow Dock extract instead.

#5. Depression - The downer about quitting smoking after the first week or so is that now your body isn't getting a constant stream of endorphins. Which is what your brain does in response to nicotine.  Another reason why smoking is so damn addictive.  Endorphins are hormones that give you the sense of well-being and happiness. They are naturally made in the brain when we are excited, have orgasms, eat spicy food or exercise (like a runners high).  This can leave you seriously blue.  The best way to battle it, is to make it easier for your brain to produce endorphins.  Which means...have orgasms, eat lots of dark chocolate and spicy food, exercise, get some sunshine, do things that really make you happy.

If you get to the point where you are weepy, drink some Kava Kava tea, sit down with your journal and get all of those thoughts down on paper.  When you feel better, rip that sucker out of your journal and burn it in the fireplace.  I'm willing to bet most, if not all of those negative self-thoughts you wrote down on that paper have nothing to do with reality.  It's best to get it all out, and release it into the ether.

In closing, please know that you CAN DO IT!  It's hard and it sucks I know, but it's totally worth it and totally possible to do.  I also want you to remember every time you struggle and feel like running into the backyard and lighting a cig, that the fantasy is always better than the reality.  In our minds we can visualize that cigarette and feelings of euphoria when we take that first drag.  But when you actually do cave and try to take a few puffs.  It's GROSS! You get light-headed, you stink, you may get shaky, you may get nauseas, you might get a headache.  Smoking is seriously bad for you. You wouldn't be getting all of those horrible side effects if it wasn't.  You are taking a ginormous step in improving your health.  Be proud of yourself!!!

1 comment:

  1. Hi this one is great and is really a good post. I think it will help me a lot in the related stuff and is very much useful for me. Very well written I appreciate & must say good job


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