Quit Smoking with These Behavior Swaps

Yumhee Park | Feb 5, 2015

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Do your heart a favor this month and quit smoking. You probably know that cigarette smoking does a number not just on your lungs but on your heart and almost every part of your body. It increases your chance of getting heart disease and many other health problems, it ages you, makes your clothes stink, and yellows your teeth and fingernails. However, quitting is a lot easier said than done. Whether it’s stress or social situations, every smoker has their triggers. Since February marks American Heart Month, break up with your cigarettes, and try doing these things instead of lighting one more cigarette.

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Trigger: After a meal. Try: Light exercise or brushing your teeth

Sometimes, you find yourself eating the last morsel on your plate even though you know you will be uncomfortably full, all for the satisfaction of lighting the post-meal cigarette. Instead, try some light walking to help you digest and get the blood flowing. Or, try brushing your teeth so you’ll be less tempted. Dental health is linked to heart health, so brushing and flossing will be a win-win activity.

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Trigger: Stress. Try: Deep breathing, meditating, or stretching

Maybe work is getting you down. Maybe certain relationship problems are keeping you from sleep. And maybe you think reaching for that cigarette might help alleviate that. But this is only a temporary fix. Instead, when you find yourself overwhelmed with life’s stresses, try some deep breathing and clean your mind by meditating and stretching. By calming yourself and your mind, you will be much more capable to tackle whatever it is that’s stressing you out.

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Trigger: Social situations. Try: Flaunting the new you

Perhaps you began smoking in social settings, and now it’s spiraled into a full blown addiction. Or, maybe you find yourself smoking a full pack whenever you’re out with other smokers. Instead of going with the flow of the crowd, distance yourself from groups of smokers initially until you’re confident enough to start flaunting the new you. Tell everyone that you’ve quit. Start flaunting your new non-smoker self, loud and proud!

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Trigger: Boredom. Try: Watching TV or looking up the negative effects of smoking

Do you find yourself reaching for that cigarette when you’re twiddling your thumbs? This tricky habit tends to rear its head when you’re bored and trying to find something to do. Instead, get hooked on a new television series. Or, try looking up the negative effects of smoking to make you flush that emergency pack down the toilet.

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Trigger: Depression. Try: Phoning someone

Emotional triggers can sometimes be even more powerful than the physical urges that come with a smoking addiction. Instead of trying to puff your sadness away, seek professional medical help if you suffer from clinical depression, or if you’re just having a glum day, try phoning a friend or family member or establishing another outlet to uplift your spirits. Keep in mind that smoking does nothing for your emotional state of mind, it only poisons your body.

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Trigger: In the car. Try: Keeping your car clean or chew gum

Sitting in traffic can trigger both boredom and stress and that might build up to you lighting a cigarette when you’re behind the wheel. Instead of making your car stink of smoke, keep your car clean and put in a scented air freshener to encourage you to not smoke. Also, try chewing gum to keep your breath minty instead of smoky.

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Trigger: Coffee or alcohol. Try: Avoiding these beverages

Your morning ritual might’ve been an Americano, with a side of tar. But if you’re trying to quit smoking, it’s best to quit the beverage triggers as well. Instead, try mint tea, and at the bar, try sticking to soda or light alcoholic beverages. This one might be particularly difficult since you might feel like you’re giving up more than you bargained for, but in the long run, it will help your health and keep you motivated to stay smoke-free.

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Trigger: Feeling tired. Try: Taking a quick cat nap.

We know, you have to finish your assignment before the looming deadline. We know, you’ve stayed up the past couple nights trying to finish it. But don’t fight that fatigue by succumbing to a cigarette. Instead, give your body what it really needs by taking a quick nap. Studies have shown that napping for short amounts of time can work wonders on improving your alertness. Your body will thank you.