Five Tips to Help a Stressed-Out President – or Anyone Else – Quit Smoking

No Smoking

Use these 5 steps to stop now.

President Barack Obama’s 2010 physical examination revealed that he is in generally good health -– and that he is still trying to quit smoking. His doctor’s advice: keep up his "smoking cessation efforts"; in other words, he should keep trying to kick the habit.

Stress is one of the reasons people give for not being able to quit smoking, says Susan Rausch, health educator at the Pat Walker Health Center and co-chair of the University of Arkansas’ FRESH campaign to promote the Tobacco Free Campus policy.

"Obviously, President Obama has a very stressful job," she says. "But University of Arkansas students facing mid-term exams know something about stress, too. There are ways to deal with stress and quit smoking, too."

Another source of stress is the awareness that most people do not smoke, that smokers are looked at as peculiar or even stupid, and that your life will be more pleasant -- and probably a lot longer -- by not smoking.

The President, and anyone with the same problem and same goal, should consider this five-step plan:

1. Deal with your stress first! Stress is bad for your health, whether you smoke or not. Examine your day and identify the sources of your stress. Research stress reduction strategies and find ways that will work for you. Make enjoyable physical activity a part of each day.

2. Ask yourself why you want to quit smoking. The key to success is personal choice: It has to be for you. Envision yourself as a non-smoker. Think of quitting as a gift you give yourself, not something that you are taking away.

3. Set a date to quit.

4. Prepare for your quit date by cutting down. Each time you smoke, ask yourself how much you "needed" that cigarette. You can also improve freshen your surroundings for your new life: clean your home, car, clothes – even your teeth. The spring season is a prime time for this.

5. On your quit date, plan to be somewhere smoking is not allowed. Reward yourself each day you don’t smoke.

Rausch says it’s also important to remember that relapse is not failure. "Most smokers try several times before they achieve freedom. Each attempt teaches you something about the type of smoker you are and the role of tobacco in your life. The better you understand yourself, the more likely you will succeed. The important thing is to keep trying. That's true for a student, a professor, a staff worker – or even the President of the United States."


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