Don’t Let Tobacco Break Your Heart!
Year after year, the leading cause of death in the United States is cardiovascular disease, killing about 630,000 Americans annually. Tobacco use plays a shocking role in that statistic – one in three heart disease deaths are directly caused by smoking! While many are aware of the impact tobacco has on our lungs, the connection between smoking and heart disease is less acknowledged.
That’s why the WHO has partnered with the World Heart Federation, highlighting the link between tobacco and cardiovascular disease. Armed with this knowledge, what can you do about it? If you or someone you love are trying to quit with no luck, try or suggest these simple, minimal-effort tips to get back on track.
1. Change your activities.
Many people have moments of the day they associate with having a cigarette. Instead of giving up those moments, try changing your activities. During a smoke break at work, replace your cigarette with a short walk or a phone call to a close friend. Having someone on call who you know can help distract you during a craving can be a huge help.
2. Medicate and Meditate.
When you feel the urge to smoke, inhale deeply and hold your breath for ten seconds. Breathing can help bring a sense of calm and awareness to your craving. You might also try out a mindfulness app to see how building new habits of breathing and meditation can compliment your efforts to quit. Adding prescription-only medicines such as Zyban and Chantix to your regimen can double your chances of quitting. These medications relieve symptoms of nicotine withdrawal by targeting receptors in the brain and blocking cravings. Using one of these medications in combination with mind calming techniques can greatly increase your odds of success!
3. Try cinnamon sticks.
Ex-smokers often miss the ritual of holding and inhaling a cigarette. Do the same with a cinnamon stick to satisfy the psychological aspect of your craving while also keeping your hands and mouth busy. Unlike cigarettes, cinnamon sticks will actually make your breath fresher.
4. Drink a glass of water.
With a busy schedule, it’s easy to become dehydrated without realizing it. Even subtle dehydration can make you anxious and trigger tobacco cravings. Stepping away from your desk to get a glass of water is a way to distract yourself from the urge while re-hydrating your body.
5. Trace the triggers.
Identifying what your triggers are can help you prevent and manage cravings. Try downloading a smoking cessation app such as SmokeFree or QuitGuide. Both apps allow you to track cravings, giving you a clearer understanding of what may be causing your urge to smoke. Plus, the simple act of using the app gives you something to do in place of smoking.
If changes to your lifestyle are not quite enough, don’t give up! Help from a physician might be the extra push you need to help break the addiction alongside your current efforts. PlushCare doctors are available by phone to recommend a treatment plan for smoking cessation and can prescribe any medication to help manage your symptoms if necessary.