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Smoking Cessation Health Center

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How I Quit Smoking With Stress Reduction and Martial Arts

Many relaxation techniques may help you stop smoking.

Why Stress-Reduction Techniques May Help You Stop Smoking continued...

Part of the difficulty when you quit smoking is simply that you don't feel very good at first. "You can't think well, your thoughts are fuzzy, you're grumpy and out of sorts," says Thune. "You're just not feeling well. So anything that provides pleasure and is calming and focusing, that helps you pull your thoughts together, is going to be a plus."

Also, deep breathing and relaxation techniques are commonly used to help new smokers quit. If you're used to inhaling deeply on a cigarette, you may forget to continue that deep breathing and increase your tension levels. Since deep and controlled breathing are key components of things like yoga, meditation and martial arts, they can help with relaxation and relieving the stress that comes from quitting.

Tips for Stress-Reduction Activities While You Stop Smoking

The American Cancer Society's Quitline counselors and other smoking-cessation experts recommend a variety of techniques to help you quit smoking.

  • Deep breathing. Breathe in deeply, letting your stomach expand until your lungs are filled. Pause a minute. Then exhale fully. Pause a minute. Then take another deep breath in, hold a minute, then exhale. Continue with your eyes closed until you feel calm.
  • Guided imagery. "Imagine yourself in the situation that causes you the most difficulty, and picture all the strategies you're going to use to address the situation without smoking," says Trina Ita, the counseling supervisor for the American Cancer Society's Quitline. "We call it a mental rehearsal."
  • T'ai chi. This mind-body exercise combines deep breathing with postures that flow from one to the next through a series of slow, continuous movements. Researchers at the University of Miami are now studying its effectiveness as part of a smoking-cessation program.

There are other relaxation techniques, including yoga and meditation. The trick is to find a relaxation technique that you enjoy, and that fits into your life.

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Reviewed on January 23, 2009

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