According to a now legendary article from the New York Times, cigarette smoking is one of the hardest addictions to overcome–“HARDER TO KICK THAN HEROIN”, the headline read.
You shouldn’t let that scare you off, though, because the struggle to overcome nicotine addiction is one that’s well worth the pain.
Many people rely on expensive and chemical-laden nicotine replacement supplements, and while we certainly don’t want to discourage anybody from trying a method that may prove effective for them, we prefer natural alternatives to smoking cessation.
Here are fourteen of the most effective, natural ways that you can kick the habit for good! We’re not saying it’s going to be easy, but these techniques will make it a little easier…
1. Create Exciting Menus to Forget About Cold Turkey
When you decide to quit smoking, you’ll probably find that you’re also inspired to make other healthy changes in your life. One of the best things you can do is to eat more fruits and vegetables, especially if they’re organic and pesticide-free.
Changing what you eat is a simple and fun way to boost your mood and avoid some of the dramatic mood swings that can accompany nicotine withdrawal.
According to Healthline, selecting fresh organic fruits and veggies will help to stabilize your blood sugar, to prevent these fluctuations, and keep you your bright, perky self.
2. Drown Your Cravings with a Refreshing Glass of Water
Stress and aggravation often rise as the nicotine leaves your system–consequently, you need to do all that you can to stabilize your mood. One of the best ways to accomplish this, according to researchers at the University of Connecticut, is pretty darned simple: stay hydrated!
These researchers found that even slight dehydration can significantly affect your mood; coupled with nicotine cravings, that can often make for a pretty unhappy camper.
3. Feel the Burn (Without the Smoke!)
When you’re recovering from any addiction, a common pitfall is not finding a proper substitute for the chemical rush that a drug or substance once provided. That’s what makes exercise a popular choice for those breaking the shackles of nicotine addiction.
What’s more, exercising actually starts to be fun when you can breathe free and easy. It’s one of the top addiction recovery strategies, and is endorsed by countless treatment specialists (including the ones at Ascend Recovery).
4. Kick the Butts with Acupuncture Treatment
For many smokers, acupuncture provides an effective, drug-less way to rid themselves of the stress, toxins, and other negative effects brought on by an addiction to cigarettes.
According to government studies published by the National Library of Medicine, those who attempted to quit smoking using a natural method like acupuncture had a notably higher success rate than those who attempted to quit nicotine “cold turkey”.
5. Understand Exactly Why You’re Saying Goodbye to Cigs
According to the experts at SmokeFree.gov, one of the best ways to quit smoking is to experience the benefits that a tobacco-free life can offer you. Within days, you’ll start breathing better.
6. Meditation: Open Wide and Say “Om”
Meditation is one of the best natural techniques for all sorts of ailments–notably, it can melt life’s stresses away like a hot skillet melts butter. There are many different schools of meditation, you owe it to yourself to try a few to see what works.
If you’re skeptical about the benefits that meditation can provide for ex-smokers, you should check out this piece from ABC news detailing how one woman utilized meditation techniques to quit her cigarette habit for good!
7. Using Herbs to Overcome Your Addiction to a Leaf
Herbal supplements represent the beginnings of humanity’s attempts to understand medicine and the human body; amazingly, after centuries, they’re still among the most potent and effective ways to relieve the intense cravings that come about when you put out that last smelly cigarette butt.
Calming herbs like St. John’s Wort and lavender can help improve your mood and lower your body’s cortisol (stress-producing chemical) levels.
According to our friends at FlowingFree.org, catnip, ginseng, and even licorice provide many benefits to the former smoker. Check out their Flowing Free’s entire list of helpful herbs here.
8. It’s Not a Stretch to Say that Yoga Can Help You Quit Smoking
While strenuous exercise is a great way to let go of some aggression and stress, calming exercise activities such as yoga are equally beneficial when it comes to overcoming a nicotine addiction.
For more information on how to utilize yoga practices to beat even a pack-a-day addiction, you should peruse this article from the Art of Living.
9. “Fight” Your Cigarette Cravings with Tai Chi
This gentle, low-impact martial art has been proven an effective smoking cessation method by University of Miami Researchers. Some credit the discipline and mindfulness of this martial art as its secret to anti-smoking success.
10. Find Fun Ways to Reward Your Anti-Smoking Successes
You probably know yourself better than just about anybody; that means you know the things you like in life. Start brainstorming little rewards or “presents” you can give yourself to celebrate new milestones in your quest to quit smoking.
Maybe you can treat yourself to coffee for the first week, a movie for two weeks, and a big greasy pizza for your first month–we’re not here to judge!
11. Ditch that Cigarette Smell with Aromatherapy
As your sense of smell returns, you can take advantage of the sense of calm and peacefulness that aromatherapy provides. Even if you’re skeptical at first, we think you’ll be amazed at the uncanny changes in mood that a simple scent can provoke.
What’s more, your house will finally smell good–not like an old ashtray.
12. Break the Habit with a Change of Pace
One of the hardest things about quitting a cigarette addiction is that cigarettes are intrinsically tied in with many parts of your day: perhaps you have a cigarette with your morning coffee, or you take a few puffs on your lunch break.
One way to avoid the irksome nicotine cravings is to change up your routine–if you always smoke in your car, consider biking to work for a while (if you’re close enough, that is).
If you smoke when you go out to a bar, consider finding another place to go at night; it’s nearly impossible to change a bad habit without changing a few other things you do.
13. Cultivating the Right Mentality for Cessation Success
Why do most diets and attempts at “healthy living” fail so quickly? Well, for one reason, it’s because people think they’ve failed, when in reality they haven’t.
It’s time to give up the “all or nothing” mentality that accompanies most addictions–giving in and smoking a couple of cigarettes one day doesn’t mean that you somehow “failed”–it simply means that you’ve been successful 95% of the time instead of a perfect 100.
14. Write Nicotine a “Dear John” Letter
Lastly, we’d like to look at a unique recovery technique that you may have never considered.
All credit due, this is an idea we borrowed from 12-step programs and various other addiction/recovery classes:
Once you’ve decided to take a stand and reclaim your life from the grips of the tobacco plant, you should write tobacco a letter so it knows precisely how you feel about your toxic relationship.
Let tobacco “know” exactly why you’re breaking up with it. It’s not you, it’s cigarettes–they’re never going to change, and it’s time for you to move on.
A Few Crucial Takeaways to Write Your Non-Smoking Success Story
Whew! You’ve made it through all fourteen suggestions, and you’ve probbly started a mental list of the ones that appeal to you–great job!
Keep in mind that it would be nearly impossible to try every item on this list, especially at the same time. Smoking cessation has never been a “one size fits all” endeavor–different people require different strategies to succeed.
Start small, by cutting down. Start by saying no to one cigarette at a time. If you’ll forgive us for dragging out an old cliche, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
If you’re ready to start your journey away from the destructive results of tobacco use, now’s the time. Take that first step!