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Proven Strategies to Quit Smoking

When You're Ready to Get Serious

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10 Ways to Reduce Stress While You Quit Smoking


3. Set long-term worries aside for now.

The first few weeks of quitting are the hardest. During that period, don’t burden yourself unnecessarily by worrying about long-term problems. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll worry about them later, after you’ve made it through the first few weeks. Focus on the here and now.

4. Learn to recognize signs of stress.

The sooner you deal with stress, the less likely it will be to derail your efforts to quit. Signs of stress include a feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to cope, anxiety, restlessness, headaches, sleeplessness, depression, agitation, and anger. As soon as you feel yourself under stress, act fast.

5. Do things you enjoy doing.

One of the simplest ways to ease stress is to distract yourself with activities that give you pleasure. Listen to a favorite recording. Watch a comedy movie. Take the dog out for a run. Play with your kids. Enjoy a warm shower. Luxuriate in the bathtub. Beyond helping you let off steam, life’s simple pleasures can remind you of why you want to quit in the first place, strengthening your resolve to stick with it.

6. Get moving.

Many studies show that physical activity can help ease stress and anxiety. Exercise even appears to boost brain chemicals associated with feelings of well-being. “Antidepressants help only about half of people with mild to moderate depression. Physical activity, on the other hand, eases depression in about 80% of people,” says Rabin. Almost any kind of activity helps. But doing something you really enjoy, such as swimming or walking in a beautiful area, may be especially helpful for easing stress.

7. Practice relaxation.

Stress reduction techniques also help many smokers quit. These include yoga, progressive relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and various forms of meditation. Mindfulness meditation, which encourages focusing on the here and now, has also been shown to help smokers kick the habit. No one technique works for everyone, so it’s worth trying out a few in advance. If possible, get comfortable with a few stress-reduction techniques before your quit date.

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What's helping you quit smoking?