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by Dr De La Flor
Your questions answered
Dear Dr De La Flor,

I’m trying to quit smoking and I would like to hear your advice.

Cheers, Oscar

Your questions answered

Tenerife - 26.05.2011 - Dear Oscar,

First of all, congratulations! Your health is a treasure and you are a treasure for your family, so I applaud and encourage your decision.

Many smokers think that lighting up helps them relax. They’re fooling themselves. Experts say nicotine withdrawal makes people feel jittery and anxious, which smokers often confuse with feeling stressed. Lighting up makes them feel better, not because cigarettes ease stress but because it’s delivering the next dose of nicotine.

Breaking free of nicotine addiction is stressful. Stress is one of the leading reasons why people falter in their efforts to quit. Stress releases a brain chemical called epinephrine, which interferes with the ability to focus and think clearly. When you’re trying to quit smoking, that can make it hard to stay focused on the goal. I hope some of the following strategies can help you get through the tough times without being overwhelmed by stress!

Cut yourself plenty of slack. Don’t be hard on yourself while you’re quitting. Kicking the habit is tough enough. Recognise in advance that you’ll experience stress. Understand that your temper may be short and that you may feel discouraged. Focus and enjoy the fight, and not just the results. By the way, statistically speaking most smokers have to try several times before they succeed.

Tackle short-term problems in advance. If you can easily resolve any nagging short-term stresses, do it before you quit. Fix that leaky faucet. Clean up the clutter that’s preventing you from parking your car in the garage…

Set long-term worries aside for now. The first few weeks of quitting are the hardest. Focus on the here and now, congratulate yourself for the fight at the end of every single day!

Learn to recognise signs of stress. The sooner you deal with stress, the less likely it will be able to derail your efforts to quit. Focus more on your hobbies or try to be more ‘physical’ during the day so that you can naturally burn some of that extra adrenalin. Many studies show that physical activity can help ease stress and anxiety. Exercise even appears to boost brain chemicals associated with feelings of well-being.

Plan to pamper yourself. Enjoy a warm shower. Luxuriate in the bathtub. Beyond helping you let off steam, life’s simple pleasures can remind you of why you want to quit in the first place, strengthening your resolve to stick with it.

Share your goals with a friend. Before you quit, make a list of the people you can turn to for support and a friendly conversation. Turn to them when you’re beginning to feel stressed. When we admit our weaknesses we are much stronger!

It’s totally normal to be overwhelmed during the first days of quitting. The effects of nicotine withdrawal get weaker every day that you don’t smoke. Every time you resist lighting up, you’re one step closer to a smoke-free life, and your lungs are literally in a party mood. For me, you are already a success for trying to put a good fight! Best wishes from a fan of yours.

Dr. De La Flor, licensed G.P./Family Doctor, holds certificates in coaching, nutrition and medical exercise from Berkeley University and the American Council on Exercise. His medical approach is highly influenced by Positive Psychology; an empowering, encompassing way of approaching patients through the study of their strengths and virtues to enable them to thrive and lead fulfilling lives, accept the past, find happiness in the present, and hope for the future. You can reach the doctor at 00-34-697.888.666 to schedule a consultation in his surgery or in your home/business.

This article appears in the print edition 643 of Island Connections

Living & Lifestyle
Dr. De La Flor

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