Exercising After Quitting Smoking
Continue to fill in your diary. Now, here's a fun little exercise. Find three non-smokers today and ask them why they don't smoke. Then tell them you are stopping and notice their reaction.
Today we are going to discover more activities you can do and more plans you can devise to replace the habit of smoking. This is one of the keys – and don't just assume that you will find the habit easy to replace, because some people do and some people don't – the great thing is that you know how to deal with it, and you know that the nicotine is leaving your system. A craving is the nicotine trying to get hold of you again, but you will not let it because you know the cigarettes no longer control you. Now you are in control of your life. You may begin to find that your desire to smoke decreases. Maybe you forget to procrastinate.
From today onwards, even as you continue to smoke, begin to confuse the habit. If you smoke inside your home, you could choose to not light up inside and go outside for a smoke. If you normally hold a cigarette in your right hand hold it in your left. If you normally smoke at a morning tea break, change the routine and smoke somewhere else or skip a cigarette and notice what effect that has on you.
Skipping one cigarette won't kill you, and you could practise a replacement exercise instead. If you have a favourite place where you smoke, change it and start to break down the connections. If, when you smoke in public places, you ignore the looks or the holding of the breath of non-smokers as they rush past you in an attempt to not let the poison enter their bodies, instead take notice and feel disgusted too. If you normally smoke with a cup of coffee, maybe try a herbal or green tea or a fresh vegetable juice or orange juice instead, and wait ten minutes to light up. If you normally drive and light up as soon as you get in the car, have a smoke before you get in and drive without smoking. Do as many things differently as you can to wear down the old habits.
Today, when you fill in your smoking diary, continue to include the replacement alternatives you will use to overcome the cravings easily and effortlessly. You are mentally reprogramming yourself to replace the old habits with new habits. By writing them down rather than just thinking about them, you are strengthening your resolve. Let's face it, even if a craving does hit, it will only last for a few minutes and if you fill that time with drinking water, running on the spot or taking ten deep breaths, the time will pass quickly.
Here is a list of possible alternatives and strategies if and when you get any cravings. Check off the ones that will work for you and include any extras you can think of. Bring it on! Let a craving dare rear its ugly head! You will crush it!
Habit replacement strategies
Tick the strategies that you can imagine yourself using.
- Change your thinking.
- Breathing exercises.
- Repeat affirmations.
- Visualise a happy place.
- Drink water (maybe use a straw and take sips).
- Chi kung exercises like the dan tien breathing exercise.
- Yoga exercises.
- Drink juice (no added sugar).
- Walk across the room.
- Weed the garden.
- Eat an apple.
- Chew gum.
- Clean your teeth.
- Eat orange slices.
- Drink herbal tea.
- Drink green tea.
- Play with a stress ball.
- Run on the spot.
- Eat a carrot or celery stick.
- Eat a cinnamon stick.
- Eat a slice of cucumber.
- Chew on ginger.
- Phone a friend.
Ten-count breathing exercise
With this yoga-style deep-breathing exercise, you breathe in for a count of ten and breathe out for ten. When you breathe, draw the breath in through your nose and let your abdomen expand as you inhale and at the same time relax your chest and shoulders. Towards the end of the breath, you could let your chest expand and even raise your shoulders up to get that last little bit of air in and completely fill your lungs with fresh air. As you exhale, slowly squeeze all the stale air out of your lungs.
Take a couple of minutes and have a practice run now: breathe in slowly while counting to ten. You will find that you need to breathe very slowly if you are going to reach ten before you reach your limit. If you take a quick, deep breathe in, you will be lucky to count to five. Inhale very slowly and evenly through your nose: by the time you reach ten, your lungs will be completely filled with fresh air. If you believe you are going too fast while slowly counting to ten, hold your breath for a few counts until you reach ten.
When exhaling, count to ten as you very slowly breathe out. If you only reach six, seven or eight, again hold your breath until ten is reached and very slowly expel all the air through your nose or mouth. Repeat the cycle.
With practice, you will easily be able to inhale for the count of ten and exhale for the count of ten. If you time yourself, you will find that the process takes less than three minutes, so to get through three minutes of cravings you may only need to take three or four slow deep breaths.
Basically, what you are doing in this deep-breathing exercise is distracting yourself while taking deep breaths similar to your old habit, except this time you are only filling your lungs, and in turn your body, with fresh oxygen (and chi), not toxic chemical smoke.
Other replacement strategies could include eating sunflower or pumpkin seeds or a few raisins or sultanas. If you need to have something in your hand, get a pen or pencil and do some doodling so that you are doing something else with your mind and your fingers. As mentioned above, you could also play with a piece of plasticine or a stress ball.
If you drink a glass of water, try sipping it through a straw – by doing this, you are imitating the habit, but you are doing something healthy. You can also do the same thing with juices, like apple, orange or watermelon. If you have never had watermelon, rockmelon and honeydew melon juice combined, try it – it is the nectar of the gods, absolutely delicious. By using a straw, you are putting something in the shape of a cigarette into your mouth, and in a short period of time you will gradually or very quickly forget about cigarettes, and smoking will become a distant memory. You will soon begin to wonder, 'Why did I ever smoke in the first place?'
Having spent so many years doing damage to your body, it is time to start looking after yourself. It is time to start being responsible regarding your health and reverse the unhealthy path you have been on. The great thing is that the damage you have done to your body can be reversed. The moment you stop smoking, your body will start to repair and heal itself.
You may like to consider taking a multi-B vitamin and vitamin C if you don't already do so. One of the most common deficiendes worldwide is B9, and lack of it means a tendency towards depression, as does a lack of B3. Vitamin B6 makes serotonin, which you need for good sleep. Cigarettes, caffeine and alcohol all interfere with serotonin production – the happy hormone. They also disrupt the amino acid tryptophan, which is required for the production of serotonin.
The most important thing you can do is change your thinking, your attitude and your focus. Rather than focusing on what you can't have and what you don't want, instead focus on what you do want – all the alternatives.
Rather than thinking, 'Oh, I am so stressed, I need a cigarette to relax', consider your alternatives – deep-breathing exercises, stretching to reduce tension, taking a warm bath, going for a walk in the park, squeezing a stress ball, or practising chi kung or yoga. There are great chi kung exercises, aimed at relaxation and rejuvenation, which are suitable for any age. I promise that if you practise these simple exercises, you will feel calmer, more tranquil and relaxed. To find out more, you can check out Exercising After Quitting Smoking.