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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.