You eat organic almost exclusively and try to steer clear of anything made of plastic (especially The 4 Most Dangerous Types Of Plastic). But there’s just one unhealthy habit you can’t shake: smoking.
You may even tell yourself that the “natural” tobacco you use isn’t as bad for you, but even without the additives found in common cigarette brands, tobacco smoke contains a panoply of dangerous chemicals such as carbon monoxide and dozens of other known carcinogens.
Related: Is Incense Polluting Your Air?
Not to mention the toll smoking takes on the environment and your wallet. If you’re ready to give up cigarettess for good, these natural approaches can help reduce withdrawal symptoms, lessen the urge to smoke, and will make you feel stronger and healthier while you leave that bad habit in the dust. Click through the slideshow to discover totally natural, organic ways to get you smoke-free.
The practice is widely proven to decrease anxiety and stress, and it has been found to strengthen the area of the brain associated with willpower (in fact, there are many surprings benefits when you put Your Body On Meditation. A study at Yale University found mindfulness meditation was far more effective at helping adult smokers stay off cigarettes than a popular smoking-cessation program. Another study showed that mindfulness may change smokers’ response to cravings, making them easier to control.
What’s more, meditation is one of the best ways to get deeply in touch with yourself, and that means accessing the underlying urges to smoke as well as the “voice in your head” that will try to talk you into another cigarette.
Yoga supports the effort to quit smoking in myriad ways, including regulating the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Research has also found that women who do vinyasa yoga at least twice a week have better rates at staying smoke-free than people who don’t.
Try ujjayi breathing. This deep and heating breathing technique is a powerful reminder of how much we need healthy lungs! It also stimulates pulmonary stretch receptors in a way similar to smoking, strengthens lung capacity, and helps to steady the mind.
Studies have indicated that acupuncture may help reduce cravings for addictive substances, including tobacco, and it helps relieve myriad symptoms of withdrawal including stress, irritability, and gastrointestinal issues. By increasing the release of serotonin (one of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters), it may also help you over the hard moments just after quitting.
A big, colorful garden-fresh salad and a burning cigarette: Gross, right? Any plan to quit should include consuming an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, which research correlates to fewer cigarettes smoked (you can even eat Garden Salads For Breakfast (Yup!)). Plus, they have the added benefit of helping to replenish the vitamins and minerals you lose by lighting up.
Meanwhile researchers at Duke University found that fruit and vegetables are among the foods that make cigarettes taste especially bad. (Dairy products and water are others). On the flip side, red meat, coffee, and alcohol make people savor smoking more, so you may want to cut back on these for awhile.
Drinking water may help counteract the craving smoke, especially in the first days of quitting. And drinking water is one of the best things you can do to support your body to remove the toxic build up from smoking, keep your digestion running smoothly, and begin to rehydrate after the drying effects of cigarette smoke.
Former female smokers who take up vigorous physical activity have a better chance of staying off cigarettes, according to researchers at Brown University. Makes sense. You need strong lung capacity and energy to run a 10-minute mile or play a game of tennis. But exercise has another important effect: Done regularly it’s been found to impact mood and outlook as much as antidepressants.
There are plenty of uses for herbal remedies in the forms of supplements, tinctures, and tea to help manage many of the side-effects of quitting tobacco (also, herbs are a powerful addition to any Woman’s Medicine Kit). If the nicotine withdrawal is giving you insomnia, try valerian root or chamomile. If it’s making you irritable or anxious, look to kava kava, St. John’s Wort, lemon balm, and lavender. Got you in a mental fog? Tulsi (holy basil) can help. For a healthier energy boost, try ginseng and ashwagandha.
The martial art of tai chi may help smokers quit and stay off cigarettes, according to researchers at the University of Miami. In a study, participants who did tai chi three times a week, and no other cessation interventions, remained smoke-free three months later. The practice, which comprises continuous slow, meditative movement, is known to reduce stress, increase circulation, and promote feelings of calm and wellbeing.
Beyond nicotine addiction (nicotine ranks No. 3 in addictive substances behind heroin and crack cocaine), smoking is largely a vice of habit. In fact, it’s the psychological and emotional patterns that are bound to trip your efforts to quit, far more than the physical craving. You simply can’t do all the same things you’ve done as a smoker without expecting to want a cigarette. So be prepared to mix things up for a while, avoid old haunts or people that remind you of smoking, and try out new activities and routines. Steer clear of your strongest smoking triggers, such as drinking alcohol. It won’t be forever—just until you’ve moved safely beyond the desire to smoke under any circumstance.
Knitting may be an effective (and rewarding!) way to deal with the stress that often leads people to smoke. Research and bounds of anecdotal evidence (as discussed in this New York Times Health article reveals that people who learn to and knit through trying times (such as quitting smoking) have lowered stress levels. Knitting also occupies people’s hands—and programs like Knit To Quit give you a social support network that can also help ward off unwanted behaviors.
Understanding exactly what’s happening in your body for every hour you don’t smoke can be powerful motivation. For example, within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, blood pressure and heart rate return to healthy levels. After 12 hours, toxic carbon monoxide levels leave the body as the lungs and blood regain movement of oxygen rather than smoke. Within 15 days of quitting, your sense of taste and smell improve and your chances of developing respiratory infections drop as the cilia get back in action clearing toxic build up in the lungs.