Anyone who has ever tried to quit smoking knows two things: cigarettes are clearly bad for you and they’re a hard habit to break. In fact, six out of 10 former smokers aren’t able to successfully stop on their first try and go through multiple attempts before quitting smoking for good, according to the American Lung Association.
It’s vital to not get discouraged and to stick with it. The good news is that there are a plethora of smoking cessation options at your disposal, from nicotine replacement therapies, such as gum and the patch, to prescription drugs, such as Chantix and Zyban. But not everyone is keen on going the medication route.
If you’d rather quit without taking any prescription medications or want to do a combination of medication and natural methods to up your chances of success, here are some proven ways to help you quit smoking naturally:
1. Pop fish oil supplements. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce cigarette cravings and cut down on the number of cigarettes people smoke daily. When regular cigarette smokers were given fish oil supplements (2,710 milligrams of EPA and 2,040 milligrams DHA) on a daily basis for a month, they smoked two fewer cigarettes a day on average and reported a significant decrease in craving tobacco. What’s more, even a month after stopping the supplement, the cravings for cigarettes hadn’t come back. Bonus: Omega-3s reduce inflammation, which contributes to heart disease, cancer and wrinkles.
2. Break a sweat. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as a brisk walk or a series of squats, can make a tobacco craving disappear, according to the Mayo Clinic. Research shows that a single exercise session can change brain activity, reducing cravings for nicotine. What’s more, working out helps fight any weight gain related to smoking cessation.
3. Tap away anxiety. Like acupuncture and acupressure, tapping is a technique that utilizes the body’s energy meridian points. You can stimulate these points to reduce stress by tapping on them with your fingertips for a few minutes each day. “Smoking is closely tied to stress,” explained Jessica Ortner, author of The Tapping Solution for Weight Loss & Body Confidence. “We reach for a cigarette because we are searching for relief from our stress. When we target the stress, we lessen the craving for a cigarette.” For a tutorial on tapping, check out this video demonstration.
4. Try alternative methods. Although the research is hit or miss when it comes to whether hypnosis and acupuncture can actually help you stop smoking, anecdotally these methods have helped people who are motivated to quit. One study did find that acupuncture dampened the desire to smoke. Plus, there’s no harm in trying these methods.
5. Keep your mouth busy. Rather than reaching for a cigarette when you’re feeling stressed, pop a piece of sugarless gum to satisfy those oral cravings. Or have a low-fat crunchy snack, such as unbuttered popcorn or sliced carrots and celery, to keep your mouth occupied and cigarette-free.
Even This Cigarette Company Banned Smoking
Electronic Cigarettes: Don’t Hold Your Breath