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5 Out-of-the-Box Methods to Quit Smoking for Good

5 Out-of-the-Box Methods to Quit Smoking for Good

An estimated 50 million Americans smoke cigarettes (by some counts more), and every year without fail, giving up that vice is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, it’s not just a casual habit for most smokers – it’s a physical addiction that can be hard to quit cold turkey because the body craves it.

There are, of course, plenty of tried and true methods to cut back or quit smoking. Nicotine patches have been on the scene for close to 20 years now, while the newly popular e-cigarettes may help heavy smokers give up tobacco. Then there’s the cold turkey method, which many people claim is the only good way to quit an addiction completely.

But those methods don’t work for everyone, and it can be frustrating to hear the same old advice over and over again while you’re still struggling to quit smoking. If you’ve already tried quitting through conventional methods and haven’t found anything that’s worked, consider trying these out-of-the-box approaches. (Don’t say you weren’t warned.)

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Hypnosis

Aside from weight loss, smoking cessation is the most common reason people seek the help of a hypnotist. The idea is that smokers are guided into a relaxed, receptive state, and the hypnotist instructs them to focus on their motivation for quitting smoking or to picture themselves as non-smokers.

Smokers can also be taught to practice a self-hypnosis technique several times a week at home in order to stay on the right track.

Acupuncture

The ancient Chinese technique of acupuncture has been used to treat everything from back pain to insomnia, and now there’s some evidence that it may be able to help people quit smoking, too. According to a Reuters review of 14 international studies, participants who tried acupuncture were more than three times as likely to still be smoke-free six months to a year later.

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Acupuncturists insert needles at points believed to influence the organs engaged when smoking with the goal of decreasing participants’ desire to smoke. Acupuncture has proven to be a good stress-reliever, so this might be a particularly good approach for anyone who smokes when they’re stressed.

Have a Go-To Activity for Cravings

Here’s a method you don’t hear about every day: to quit smoking, a man in Omaha drew a picture of a cigarette every time he had a craving. He’s drawn hundreds of cigarettes, but he hasn’t smoked one in over six months and has been drawing them less since the cravings have diminished.

If sketching isn’t your thing, you might try another activity to keep your hands busy so you can’t hold a cigarette. Some people have had success holding onto a pen or a coin, or by chewing gum or using a toothpick. When you first quit smoking, you might also try to keep yourself busy by going to public places that don’t allow smoking when you experience a craving.

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Exercising

In the spirit of keeping busy to stave off the cravings, consider starting a regular exercise routine. If you’ve been a heavy smoker for a while now, taking up exercise may be tough, but start with shorter routines and work your way up. If you manage to stay cigarette-free and keep exercising, you’ll quickly be able to see your fitness improving, and you can use this as motivation.

Scare Yourself with Aging Software

We all know that smoking increases your risk of lung cancer and can wreak havoc on your skin, but it can be hard to get motivated to quit when you don’t see any immediate negative consequences of your bad habit. But now thanks to visualization software, you can scare yourself straight by projecting what you will look like in a few years if you continue to smoke heavily.

According to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day will develop the wrinkles of a non-smoker 1.4 times older than them – meaning a 20-year-old smoker would look 28, a 30-year-old would look 42, and a 40-year-old would look 56. If you just need the right motivation to quit smoking, seeing yourself get old before your time on a computer screen may just do the trick.

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Keep in mind that you can pair any of these out-of-the-box methods with conventional methods, like attending a support group, using a nicotine patch, or working with a behavioral therapist. Everyone is different, so go with the approaches that you think will be most helpful for you – and if something’s not working, don’t be afraid to try a new method.

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

The Neural Knitwork Project

In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

The knitting and neural connection

The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

More mental health benefits from knitting

Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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“People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

The dopamine effect on our happiness

Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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