Ask anyone who’s trying to quit smoking about their experience and they’re likely to say it’s incredibly difficult.
Quitting smoking is hard because nicotine in cigarettes literally changes a smoker’s brain. Nicotine triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, a chemical which creates feelings of pleasure. However, as tolerance against nicotine builds, the more one smokes. This means that a smoker would have to smoke even more cigarettes to trigger the same levels of pleasure. This results in cravings and withdrawal symptoms when a smoker decides to quit.
What can you do to reduce the withdrawal pangs and get a feel-good dopamine boost while trying to quit smoking? Here are a few easy ways to increase your dopamine levels so that you can feel great as you stay smoke-free.
Studies show that aerobic exercise can increase dopamine levels in your brain, particularly if you do it on a regular basis. It’s best if you find time in your schedule to exercise consistently – whether it’s going for a brisk-walk in the park or hitting the gym to for weight training.
However, if you’re time-strapped, don’t feel pressured about having to do a full work-out. Just get your body moving! Even standing up and stretching for a few minutes, especially after spending hours at work on your laptop, can give your brain a little dopamine boost.
Try Something New
Although we may be nervous about trying out a new activity, novel experiences are actually good for you. Your brain releases dopamine when you do something new. The more foreign the experience is, the greater the dopamine release.
One common quit smoking tip is to build new routines that don’t involve smoking; so why not spend the time to try out new hobbies or activities? You may even discover a hidden talent within yourself from these adventures.
Put on Your Favourite Song
Do you feel better every time your favourite song comes on? Researchers have found that listening to your favourite music can trigger a rush of dopamine in your brain. More than that, just anticipating good music can release dopamine.
If you’re in need of a quick boost or feel the urge to smoke, throw on your earphones and cue up your favourite album. This is also a great way to distract yourself until the need for a cigarette passes. Even better, super-charge your mood by combining this with Hack 1: Get Moving and dance up a storm as the track plays.
Break Down Your Goals
Dopamine is released whenever you achieve a goal. This can be as small as replying to an email or as large as cooking a three-course meal. While more challenging goals trigger a larger dopamine rush, smaller tasks can still give you a little boost.
Hack this process by breaking a big task into smaller milestones that are easier to complete. This helps to make large projects more approachable and achievable, while also giving you a kick of dopamine every time you tick something off your to-do list.
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
The best way to regulate your dopamine levels is by having healthy lifestyle habits. Eating well, exercising regularly, getting quality sleep and learning how to cope effectively with stress are the best ways to make sure you’re always feeling good.
Another huge step in the right direction is kicking your smoking habit! Although you may not feel it immediately, the health benefits of quitting start just 20 minutes after your last cigarette.
We know it’s not easy to quit smoking and we want to support you on your quit smoking journey. Your chances of quitting increase significantly with professional support and medical aid.