Can Mind-Body Practices Help to Quit Smoking?

Can Mind-Body Practices Help to Quit Smoking?

Tobacco is said to kill 7 million people every year on a global level. Nearly one million of them are said to be second-hand smoke. Smoking is also said to be a leading cause of several preventable illnesses and death, as per the World Health Organization (WHO).

Smoking also increases the likelihood of acquiring different diseases such as diabetes, and cancers of both the lungs and heart.

Quitting smoking is not an easy job. Fighting this extremely strong and well-grown addiction. You have to attack three fronts including behavioral, physical, and cognitive. In fact, different studies have indicated that combination therapies can actually double or even triple the chances of successfully quitting smoking.

Mind-body practices to quit smoking

Moreover, current evidence has also proven that different mind-body practices such as meditation, yoga, and guided imagery can also help in quitting.

Breaking the cycle of addiction and requires rewiring the brain in order to stop both emotional and physical cravings. The physical withdrawal signs experienced during the first week can prove to be severe. Most of the people who start smoking again after quitting start doing it when most of their symptoms are at the peak.

It is really hard to control and manage the emotional aspect while breaking the habit of smoking. For some people, the most difficult cigarette to give up is usually the first one of the day. For others, it is usually the after-dinner cigarette. Sometimes, the craving may hit you while you are driving.

While it is extremely tough to give up on smoking, the process is totally worth it as it greatly reduces the risk of acquiring certain dangerous diseases including cancers. The sooner you quit it, the sooner your mind and the body can start healing from the addiction.

What Are Mind-Body Practices?

The mind-body connection has been under investigations for decades by the healers belonging to different modalities. More answers have begun to reveal themselves with the more amount of research being performed to understand the spiritual, emotional, and behavioral aspects of the human health.

In the year 2008, the researchers belonging to the Georgia State University discussed how stress can alter the immune system of your body and how the humans tend to find diseases.

Mind-body practices to quit smoking

However, the connection between mind and body goes far beyond stress. These systems are intertwined with one another in everything you do and the study researching about them takes into consideration all the choices, thoughts and experiences that you have had. The creation of a balance moves you into a state of balance and healing.

So what do these mind-body practices actually refer to? These are a diverse group of procedures and techniques which work in order to connect the body and the mind together and improve wellness in terms of physical and psychological health. Some of these techniques include:

  • Meditation
  • Reiki
  • Yoga
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture

In order to achieve this particular state, the mind-body practices encouraging an optimal balance of physical and mental wellness can be used. Visualization exercises, yoga, meditation, hypnotherapy, tai chi, and biofeedback all utilize the concept of mind-body connection.

All of these activities have been used for centuries and are gaining the attention of the masses as more evidence is emerging regarding their effectiveness in fighting diseases.

An increasing number of scientific studies are being performed regarding the efficacy of mind-body practices for fighting all types of diseases, including acute, chronic, and the terminal disorders. These practices can manage epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, IBS, hypertension, cancer, heart diseases, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and addictions including smoking.

These mind-body practices are now being encouraged by most of the cancer centers after recognizing the fact that uncontrolled stress negatively impacts the human systems and delays healing.

Mind-body practices to quit smoking

All the leading hospitals have developed special departments which are devoted to these alternative and integrative therapies to manage stress, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and several other conditions.

For those who are trying to fight addiction- be it an addiction to alcohol, food, tobacco, or any kind of drug- it is important to create harmony between the mind and the body.

In addition to the physical symptoms of a withdrawal, the behavioral and the emotional symptoms can also prove to be overwhelming and are as important to control as other symptoms, while overcoming the habit of smoking.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

During the first few hours and weeks after having the last cigarette, your body enters the phase of healing. Some of the early symptoms of this phase will make you extremely uncomfortable, however, they will get better with time.

The following timeline tells you about the changes you would go through during your journey to quit smoking with mind-body practices.

1 Hour:  circulation improves with a drop in blood pressure and heart rate.

12 Hours: the oxygen levels increase as the carbon monoxide due to smoking is expelled from the body.

24 Hours: the risk of acquiring a heart attack lessens and the stamina for exercising increases.

48 Hours:  the sense of taste and smell gradually returns as the healing of nerves begin.

72 Hours:  nicotine levels slowly begin to deplete and your physical cravings touch their peak.

30 Days:  the athletic endurance improves indicating that your lungs are healing.

9 Months: Lungs are healed and the small hair present in them, the cilia, are recovered.

1 Year:  a 50 percent reduction occurs in your risk of developing coronary heart disease.

5 Years:  the blood vessels expand, reducing the risk of stroke.

10 Years:  the chances of a fatality caused by lung cancer are reduced by 50 percent. The risk of acquiring cancer of the throat, mouth, or the pancreas is also reduced.

15 Years:  the possibility of suffering from coronary heart disease becomes equal to that of a person who does not smoke.

20 Years: The possibility of death due to cancer or lung disease reduces the level of a non-smoker.

Additionally, you will also observe the following changes in your body as you quit smoking via mind-body practices:

  • Breathing improves
  • The skin glows
  • The hair becomes shinier and stronger
  • The nails reacquire their natural color
  • Teeth lose their yellow hue and become whiter
  • The immune system is strengthened

Alternative Ways of Quitting Smoking

In addition to mind-body practices, there are several other ways to quit smoking. These include:

  • Nicotine gums
  • E-cigarettes
  • Nicotine patch
  • Varenicline

These over-the-counter (OTC) drug such as nicotine and varenicline have helped a lot of people to quit smoking for sure. However, each of these products mentioned above comes with its own set of benefits and risk.

Some of these therapies have also been considered as controversial as they simply continue to full the need without paying any attention to the behavioral as well as the psychological aspects of nicotine addiction.

Some others also view these therapies as a way of transferring the dependence on nicotine from cigarette to some other vehicle.

Mind-body practices to quit smoking

Are there Any Precautions?

The mind-body practices are extremely safe for most of the people. Tai chi, yoga, and aerobic exercises, however, need to be practiced with caution, especially if you have not exercised for a while.

If you have other underlying concerns about your exercise and diet schedule, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional and seek guidance.

Nancy Walker

Nancy holds a Medicine degree and a Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

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