Healthy Living

17 Ways To Quit Smoking In Honor Of The Great American Smokeout

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11/17/2016 01:00pm ET

It’s time to show smoking the door.

The habit, which can cause cancer, stroke and heart disease (not to mention it’s expensive), may not be easy to kick but it’s essential. Once you do, your health drastically begins to improve. Just in the first 24 hours without cigarettes, your chance for heart attack decreases.

In honor of the Great American Smokeout, an awareness day designed to help smokers push the habit to the curb, we rounded up a few science-backed methods that may help you quit. Check them out below:

1. Practice mindfulness meditation.

Research suggests that the practice could help smokers cut back on the habit — even when they’re not trying to.

2. Quit on a Monday.

In a 2013 Google search study, researchers found that smokers looked up how to quit more often at the beginning of the week than as the week progressed. The most searches, with phrases like “help quit smoking,” took place on a Monday.

3. Learn to associate smoking with a nasty smell.

Cigarettes are much less appealing when your brain links them to a foul scent (rotten fish, perhaps?), according to a 2014 study. The study also suggests that the behavioral change in the brain can begin to occur when you’re sleeping.

4. Hit the gym.

Your urge for a nicotine decreases with exercise due to the release of serotonin and dopamine in your brain.

5. Watch these ads from former smokers.

The ad campaign, which featured tips from former smokers, resulted in nearly 100,000 smokers to quit, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

6. Take up yoga or try relaxation techniques.

Since many smokers use cigarettes as a way to relieve stress, the Mayo Clinic suggests finding other calming activities that have the same effect. Yoga (which is also a great form of exercise) or relaxing practices like guided imagery can all help keep anxieties at bay.

7. Use your text messages.

A study published in the journal The Lancet found that smokers who used a cessation program called “txt2stop” were twice as likely to quit after six months than those who tried to quit on their own. The program sent encouraging messages to those who are trying to kick the habit.

8. Eat some produce.

According to research from the University at Buffalo, snacking on fruits and veggies can help lead smokers to a tobacco-free lifestyle.

9. Lift weights.

Running on the treadmill isn’t the only way to get that beneficial exercise in. Research shows that smokers who engaged in a 12-week weightlifting program along with cessation treatment were twice as likely to quit than those who didn’t pick up the dumbbells, Shape magazine reported.

10. Try Nicotine Replacement Therapy.

The therapy, which could just about double your chance of quitting, offers several ways to deliver nicotine to your system in order to reduce withdrawals. Nicotine patches, chewing gum and inhalers are all part of NRT.

11. Consider your pets.

Next time you go to purchase a pack, think of your furry friends. As Ed Sayres, former president of the ASPCA, points out in a HuffPost contributors post, you’re jeopardizing your pets’ lives just as much as your own. Research shows that smoking around cats can increase the likelihood they’ll get feline lymphoma cancer, and dogs are more at risk for nasal and lung cancer when living with a smoker, Sayres wrote.

12. Try counseling.

Group, individual and even phone counseling can increase the likelihood that you’ll quit by at least 11 percent, according to U.S. Public Health Service’s Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update.

13. Go cold turkey.

According to Everyday Health, as many as nine out of 10 smokers have kicked the habit by cutting it out of their lives altogether. The withdrawal symptoms will be more prevalent, but they may last for a shorter period of time, Health.com reported in 2008.

14. Take up a new hobby.

Engaging in exciting activities activates the same reward part of the brain that nicotine ignites, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE. Additionally, participants in the study who were engaged in self-expanding activities were less likely to respond to smoking cues.

15. Give hypnosis a go.

While there isn’t super strong evidence for the efficacy of hypnosis on smokers, the conclusive research that has been conducted on the method has been positive, The Fix reported in 2012. For more on the alternative hypnosis methods you can use to quit the habit, click here.

16. Write down why you want to quit.

The CDC recommends thinking over why you want to kick the habit as part of their step-by-step cessation plan. Is it for your health? For your family? Because it’s expensive? Whatever your motivation, jot it down. Research shows writing notes (as opposed to typing) helps us remember them better, which may help reinforce the important reasons why you want to quit.

17. Don’t stop thinking about cigarettes entirely.

Banishing the vice from your mind may work right away, but it won’t for long. According to research published by the University of St. George’s London, completely erasing thoughts of cigarettes can make users smoke more than usual once they stop suppressing them.

Arm yourself with a method (or two, or many!) and kiss smoking goodbye for good.

A previous version of this article appeared in November 2014.

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