People tend to overlook the power of simple relaxation techniques when quitting smoking.
You’ve probably read all of the quit smoking literature and tried everything. Nicotine patches, gum, going straight cold turkey. And yet, nothing may have worked.
We know the struggle.
We put together a list of some helpful relaxation techniques that can help you when you take on the monumental task of quitting smoking. We think these techniques can provide solid support and improve your life in many ways.
WHAT IT IS
Before you raise your eyebrows and declare meditation as something that is too “Woo-woo,” suspend your judgments and understand there is a tremendous amount of science supporting the benefits of meditation and its potential to aid in fighting addictions.
You don’t have to be a monk, wear robes, or live in a monastery to experience the wonderful benefits of meditational relaxation techniques.
To put it simply, meditation is paying attention to the present moment and noticing what is happening without reacting or judging it.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor at The University of Massachusetts medical school and author of some of the most popular works on meditation, defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
WHY IT CAN HELP YOU QUIT
Multiple studies have shown that stress can act as a catalyst for relapse of many different types of addictions. Along with this, other studies discovered that meditation is one of the best relaxation techniques for dealing with stress.
By reducing stress, you’ll be less likely to experience cravings that come as a result of using smoking to reduce stress. This can ease the struggles and pains that many people feel as they’re quitting.
Often, those trying to quit associate cigarettes as a stress reducer. They feel that they’re reducing stress everytime they smoke. What they’re feeling may be a nicotine withdrawal symptom. In between each cigarette, the body craves nicotine. When someone smokes after a nicotine withdrawal feeling that they mistake for stress, they assume cigarettes act as a stress reducer, even though they don’t.
Meditation also works because it helps you to notice when and why you’re craving a cigarette. When you’re more mindful of your inner state and your emotions, you can more easily recognize when cravings are occurring.
If you start to notice that your cravings always occur after you eat, right after you get off work, or whenever you’re feeling tired, you can better be prepared for when the cravings will occur and simply notice them rather than reacting to them.
Meditation trains you to notice your feelings and emotions and not react. Each time you feel a craving, you’ll be more likely to feel rather than reach for a cigarette.
HOW TO DO IT
The simplest way to meditate is to find somewhere you can sit quietly. Set a small timer for anywhere from 5-20 minutes, although it is better to start off with a short time. Sit quietly, and notice the feelings going in on your body, the sensation of breathing in and out. Pay attention to your breath and try to quiet your mind.
When you notice your mind wandering, as it inevitably will, simply go back to paying attention to your breath and your body. There are many great resources available online to help you learn to meditate. We’ve listed some below.
RESOURCES AND HELPFUL LINKS
10% Happier – A great app with guided meditation and information about meditating. Worth checking out the introduction video even if you’re not considering meditation. Dan Harris was an anchor on ABC. After having a panic attack on national TV, he dove into the world of meditation and mindfulness and created the 10% Happier App.
Headspace – Another great app for guided meditations. Try their Take 10 course if you’re skeptical. In just 10 minutes a day for 10 days, you’ll get a crash course in meditation that will likely leave you feeling better and more at peace.
An Introduction To Meditation – If you’re a fan of monks in robes, this may be the perfect course for you. This is a free online course taught by a Buddhist monk that highlights many of the benefits of meditation and some of the many types of meditations you can try out. You won’t be asked to believe anything, or drink any Kool-Aid. You’ll just be asked to open your mind to the present moment.
There are thousands of free videos you can watch on Youtube as well to get you started with meditation and similar relaxation techniques.
WHAT IT IS
Whether you write down your feelings and emotions in a small booklet or post them on an online forum, there are many different types of journaling that can aid in your quitting journey.
Journaling entails writing down what you’re feeling at various points throughout the day. Many people that quit write down and record when they smoke a cigarette, when they crave a cigarette, and what was going on at the time.
There are many online forums where people that are attempting to quit gather. Some quitters like to use the forum as a place to post about their cravings and the emotions associated with them.
If you think journaling sounds like some feel-good, self-help, nonsense, you should take a look at some of the science behind it. Multiple studies have confirmed that online communities can aid in quitting smoking, and it’s used in many forms of relaxation techniques.
WHY IT CAN HELP YOU QUIT SMOKING
Journaling can help by giving you insight into when and why your cravings occur as well as showing you when you typically smoke. It is much easier to manage a craving if you know the craving is coming.
When you know your particular cravings, and when they occur, you can create plans of action to face them and succeed. Rather than always being surprised when cravings arise, journaling and then reviewing the patterns you notice can provide you with key insights into how your addiction to smoking gets triggered.
The benefit of using an online forum can be getting immediate feedback and connection from another human being. Many people on these forums will have experienced these same emotions, and connecting with them will let you know you’re not alone. This can ease the difficult process that is quitting smoking and help you remember other people have gone through this before and succeeded.
RESOURCES AND HELPFUL LINKS
Ex-Community – After taking a look at this community, it seems to be one of the most supportive and encouraging smoking cessation forum on the Internet. Every day a new thread is created where visitors and community members can make a new commitment to quit smoking. After making a commitment, other users will reach out offering supportive comments.
Quitting Smoking Journal – A physical journal designed to help you quit smoking. Designed to be used everyday for 16 weeks, this journal can be a real help to get you going with journaling and getting some of the benefits
Moleskine Journal – A classic, high-quality journal. A simple design that you’ll love to write in. Use this to record your thoughts, cravings, emotions, and ideas. If you use it everyday, you can get a new clarity about the addiction you may have missed before.
Aussie Vapers Forum – An Australian forum where many people share their stories of quitting smoking and how vaping has changed their lives. Can be a great spot to vent, get advice on quitting, and receive support and connection. Even if you don’t live in Australia, you can still use the forum and connect with others.
3. AUTOGENIC TRAINING
WHAT IT IS
Autogenic training is another set of powerful relaxation techniques that you can use to reduce stress, aid yourself in relaxing, improve overall well being, and quit smoking. Discovered in 1932 by Johannes Heinrich Schultz, autogenic training is a technique used by NASA astronauts, world-class athletes, and others seeking stress relief or peak performance.
It can be used to help in overcoming addictions, changing unwanted behaviors, improving creativity and performance, and relieving stress. Considering many people smoke when they are stressed, autogenic training can be the perfect supplement while you’re trying to quit smoking.
HOW TO DO IT
Autogenic training is a series of self-guided directives that encourage those undergoing the training to self-induce a sensation of warmth and heaviness within their body. It is simple to do, can be done anywhere, and requires no equipment or complicated maneuvers.
It works by repeating a series of directives that are intended to calm and relax the person saying them. An example session would look like the following:
1. My arms are heavy. My left arm is heavy. My right arm is heavy. Both of my arms are heavy.
2. My legs are heavy. My left leg is heavy. My right leg is heavy. Both of my legs are heavy.
3. My arms are warm. My left arm is warm. My right arm is warm. Both of my arms are warm.
4. My legs are warm. My left leg is warm. My right leg is warm. Both of my legs are warm.
Each of the above phrases would be repeated 8-10 times. The total time to go through this routine should be around 5-10 minutes. Give it a try for 21 days and see if you don’t feel more relaxed.
WHY IT CAN HELP YOU QUIT
By training your body to get into deep states of relaxation, autogenic training is a useful tool that can be used to help ease cravings and stress. Although it does take time to become proficient in, autogenic training can provide many benefits to the dedicated individual who takes the time to master it.
In an analysis of more than 70 different studies that looked at autogenic training, researchers discovered the technique could be beneficial for a wide variety of ailments including hypertension, migraines, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, insomnia, and other sleep-related issues. It helps with many of the common symptoms that occur as a result of nicotine withdrawal.
By using autogenic training, you’ll experience a greater sense of calm. Because you can use it anywhere and at any time, the techniques can reduce the feelings of unease that occur when you feel a craving.
After you get more experienced with autogenic training, it can be possible to change various types of unwanted behavior using the technique.
Give it a shot and be patient with it. Mastering the technique can take some people months, but the benefits and the science of the potential changes you can experience are enormous.
RESOURCES AND HOW TO DO IT
University of Central Florida MP3 Autogenic Training – A great free recording that will give you a taste of how to use autogenic training.
A More In Depth Guide To Autogenic Training – A simple training sequence that can be used to learn autogenics. The entire training takes around 3 months to complete. It also features a portion at the end for how to use autogenics training to change unwanted behavior, like smoking, anxiety, and lack of confidence.
We hope you will give these a chance and try out some of these relaxation techniques.
Did these relaxation techniques help with cravings? Did they improve your life in other ways? Share your experience on our Facebook page!