It is always good to have another tool in your toolbox when you are quitting tobacco, and mindfulness may be an underused power tool. Many strategies for quitting tobacco are aimed at avoiding triggers and substituting alternative activities for smoking or using other tobacco products. Mindfulness, on the other hand, is aimed at helping tolerate cravings to overcome them.
The Theory Behind Mindfulness and Its Effects
A craving is a type of “negative affective state,” or a stressed state. It can result from stress or other triggers, such as social cues or environmental cues. The immediate goals of mindfulness when quitting tobacco are to recognize the craving for tobacco and to accept it. Lark helps coach on mindfulness through logging cravings and their strengths, as well as by offering guidance on accepting them.
Research on Mindfulness and Tobacco Cessation
A study investigated the effectiveness for quitting smoking of mindfulness compared to a traditional tobacco cessation program from the American Lung Association . Participants in the study were people who smoked at least 20 cigarettes a day. Half were signed up for a four-week mindfulness program, while the others participated in the traditional program. By the end of the program, the mindfulness group members reported smoking fewer cigarettes, and the effects lasted for months afterwards.
So how can you practice mindfulness when you quit using tobacco? It is about being aware of yourself and your craving, and about practice. The more you practice mindfulness and the more times you can delay giving into cravings, the closer you are to having fewer and weaker cravings.
An acronym to help you practice is RAIN. When you feel a craving:
- R – Recognize it and its strength.
- A – Accept it in this moment. This means thinking, “I have a craving,” and not, “I don’t want this craving,” or, “Will I be able to handle this craving?”
- I – Investigate your craving. How do your limbs, breathing, heart, and head feel?
- N – Note the experience. Is there a headache? A tight chest?
Learning about your cravings without judging them can eventually help you ride them out if you do not pressure yourself to do so. Lark can help you be mindful of cravings so you gain control.