Mind­ful to­bacco re­duc­tion

Medicine Hat News - - LIFESTYLES -

Mind­ful­ness is one of those “buzz words” right now; many peo­ple are try­ing more mind­ful­ness tech­niques in an at­tempt to re­duce stress, anx­i­ety, be bet­ter at living in the mo­ment and in­crease fo­cus. Mind­ful­ness also has its place in to­bacco re­duc­tion and can be a tool used for those who are try­ing to cut down or quit smok­ing.

One of the first things we do when we are sup­port­ing our clients through a quit at­tempt is ask them what they like about smok­ing. Most peo­ple aren’t ex­pect­ing to be asked this, but over­whelm­ingly we hear com­ments like “it re­laxes me,” or “it’s my best friend.” Many of our quit smok­ing tech­niques cen­tre around this no­tion. Once we un­der­stand what you like about to­bacco, we can work to­gether to make a plan.

The other thing to think about is when/why you’re smok­ing. What other things are you typ­i­cally do­ing dur­ing that time? We sug­gest track­ing your cig­a­rettes for a few days or a week. Use a phone app or carry around a blank piece of pa­per and track the time of every cig­a­rette, the sit­u­a­tion and your mood. While you might think you know all your smok­ing pat­terns, we find that clients of­ten have a few surprises after track­ing for a few days.

After this re­flec­tion, use the in­for­ma­tion you’ve col­lected to start mak­ing some changes, even if they are just small. Many of the tech­niques we sug­gest aim to make smok­ing less com­fort­able and less en­joy­able. This is where mind­ful­ness comes in. As a first step, sep­a­rate smok­ing from all other ac­tiv­i­ties. Take a look at your tracker. What sit­u­a­tions do you find your­self typ­i­cally us­ing to­bacco in? This might mean no more smok­ing while you put your feet up with a good re­al­ity show after work. Have your cig­a­rette and then watch your pro­gram. Same idea with drink­ing cof­fee, driv­ing, talk­ing on the phone or tex­ting. Once we sep­a­rate smok­ing from other ac­tiv­i­ties, we not only make smok­ing less en­joy­able, we cut out “mind­less smok­ing.” We are forced to con­cen­trate on what we are do­ing and then move on to the next mo­ment and the next ac­tiv­ity.

Other steps in mind­ful to­bacco re­duc­tion in­clude: chang­ing brands of cig­a­rettes, mov­ing all smok­ing to out­side your home and ve­hi­cle, and avoid­ing smok­ing in so­cial sit­u­a­tions. We also en­cour­age you to be mind­ful with re­ward­ing your­self for the great work you are do­ing for your health. Think of mean­ing­ful re­wards that you can pur­pose­fully give your­self reg­u­larly to re­in­force the good work you are do­ing.

If you are look­ing for sup­port, we can help! Visit www.al­ber­taquits.ca for more great tips and in­for­ma­tion on our group and tele­phone sup­port.

Me­gan Her­oux is an Al­berta Health Ser­vices health pro­mo­tion fa­cil­i­ta­tor and can be reached at Me­gan.Her­oux@ahs.ca

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