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Unwinding at Times of Stress > Giving up Smoking - Pg. 171

172 U N W I N D I N G AT T I M E S O F S T R E S S Giving up smoking The worst way to deal with stress is to smoke: you may feel relaxed, but smoking stresses the heart by constricting blood vessels and reduces oxygen intake, and relying on an addictive crutch brings about yet more anxiety. Nicotine is a stimulant, so giving it up results in a more relaxed body. 898 Keep a diary Before quitting, keep a tobacco-use diary for one week. Make two columns and in one list the time and place of each cigarette smoked. In the other column, list triggers (social drinking, anxiety, habit). At the end of the week, try to spot patterns. Is smoking linked with particular times, places, people, and situations? Brainstorm ways to avoid these. 895 Quit worrying about health If you give up smoking you delete all those nagging worries about harming your health. It's that easy to lift a weight off your shoulders! helpline (1-800-ACS-2345), or go online to find out about support, from nicotine replacement products to local self-help groups. 897 A problem shared... Tell friends and family that you plan to quit, and ask for their support. Could they sponsor you to keep it up (donating the money to charity to boost feelings of wellbeing), and text messages of encouragement at random moments during the day? 899 Rethink your routine Change the circumstances that link cravings with relaxation. If you have a cigarette with coffee, switch to tea. 896 Enlist support People who have the support of professionals and loved ones find it easier to give up. Visit your doctor, call the American Cancer Society's 900 Deep breathing Some studies suggest it is the deep breathing used when smoking that is relaxing. Breathe without inhaling deadly poisons by breathing in to a count of four. Hold your breath for four, then exhale to a count of eight. If this is hard, reduce the count to 2,2,4. Gradually extend the count, but work to the same ratio (1:1:2). Stay motivated and maintain your resolve by rewarding yourself with delicious treats. 901 Alternate nostril breathing Many quitters find that this rebalancing breathing technique counters cravings (see No. 891).