Newswise — President Barack Obama’s recent 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.
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, says that stress is one of the reasons people give for not being able to quit smoking.
“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.”
Her advice for the president, and anyone with the same problem, and same goal, is a five-step plan.
1. Deal with your stress first! Stress by itself is bad for your health. Examine your day and identify the sources of your stress. Research stress reduction strategies and find ones that will work for you. Make physical activity that you enjoy 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 for quitting.
4. Prepare for that quit date by cutting down and each time you smoke ask yourself how much you “needed” that cigarette. Freshen your surroundings: 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, and 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 that 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.”