Quitting Smoking: The Benefits of Mind-Body Practices
Dr. Axe | January, 2018
Worldwide, tobacco use kills 7 million people each year, of which nearly 1 million are due to second-hand smoke. Smoking is also the leading cause of preventable illness and death according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Smoking increases the risk of diabetes, some types of cancer and both heart and lung disease. (1)
Quitting smoking can be tough. Fighting this addiction requires attacking it on three fronts — physically, behaviorally and cognitively. In fact, studies show that combination therapies can double or triple the chances for being successful. And, current evidence proves that mind-body practices like yoga, meditation and guided imagery may help with quitting smoking. (2, 3)
Breaking the cycle of addiction requires a rewiring of the brain to stop both the physical and the emotional cravings. The physical withdrawal symptoms experienced in the first week or two can be severe, and many who start smoking again, do so while the symptoms are at their peak.
And, it is tough to overcome the emotional aspect and break the habit. For some people, the toughest cigarette to give up may be the first cigarette of the day. For other people, it may be the after-dinner cigarette or the craving may hit the hardest while driving. (4)
While difficult, quitting smoking is a must to reduce your risk for certain types of cancer as well as heart and lung disease. The sooner you quit, the sooner your body, and your mind, can begin to heal from the addition.
The mind-body connection has been studied for centuries by healers of all modalities. With more research dedicated to understanding how emotional, spiritual and behavioral aspects influence our health, more answers are revealing themselves. In 2008, Georgia State University researchers declared “The Mind-Body Connection: Not Just a Theory Anymore” in a paper that recognizes how stress alters the immune system and how we fight diseases. (5)
However, the mind-body connection does go beyond just stress; the mind and the body are intertwined in all we do, and the study of this powerful connection now also takes into account our thoughts, experiences and choices. Creating a balance moves us into an optimal state of healing and balance. (6)