What to Do Instead of Smoking: 3 Ideas for Employee Health
Smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products isn’t as central to American culture as it used to be. But this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t remain one of the trickiest habits to break, especially for people who have been smoking most of their lives.
Tobacco addiction is due to two main factors:
1) Nicotine is dependency-forming. A mild Central Nervous System stimulant, it causes the brain’s neurotransmitters to bounce around faster and more efficiently than they would in a non-stimulated state. This is fine at first, but as the body gets used to nicotine being in its system, it tries to readjust to normal brain function, in spite of the ongoing stimulation. Once nicotine has been absorbed as a regular player in the body’s metabolism, removing it causes the metabolism, and especially the function of the brain, to be missing one of its key players. This is where the cravings and withdrawals come into play – the body isn’t used to working without nicotine!
2) The second factor in tobacco addiction is perhaps as significant as the first. Nicotine is a short-acting drug. Unlike pharmaceutical stimulants, which can act on the body for many hours, nicotine levels in the blood peak just seconds after absorption from the lungs. The high produced, though mild, is near-instant gratification. The sensation and accompanying brain activity quickly revert to baseline in the minutes following a cigarette break. Habituated smokers will need another nicotine boost quickly. When a smoker is used to repeating this ritual dozens of times daily, the psychological addiction is often as nagging as the physiological.
These two factors combine to make tobacco dependency very difficult to break. Most people need not only to overcome the physical tie to the chemical, they need to replace the smoking ritual with some other activity. Here are some great ways to do just that. Your onsite clinic and its relevant POC tests can be at the frontline of smoking cessation in your office. For employee health and corporate health, being smokefree in 2017 is one of the best ways to do it. Hanson Medical Systems can help.
- Exercise. Smoking is often a response to unhealthy living. Exercise stimulates the brain in much the same way that smoking does (plus a lot of other benefits), but sedentary living doesn’t provide this natural boost. Instead of smoking, regular exercise can naturally produce the focus, calmness and a sense of well-being so fleetingly achieved by nicotine.
- Pharmaceutical Aid. Some smokers are in genuine need of stimulant therapy, for conditions such as ADHD. Doctors can prescribe low-dose stimulants and/or antidepressants, which can provide all day stimulation, making it much easier to focus and feel “normal,” a trait many smokers report of nicotine.
- Meditation and Breathing. Whatever else it accomplishes, meditation allows people to “customize” their moods. Through meditation, people can learn to “center” themselves and overcome negative feelings and mental difficulties, without resorting to chemical aids. Simple breathing techniques and thought exercises can be practiced throughout the day, replacing the retreat to the smoker’s portion of the parking lot with a healthier alternative.
No one says that kicking a tobacco habit is easy, but when we understand why people smoke, it’s much easier to replace the activity with something more beneficial. Hanson Medical Systems has many ways to help your workforce achieve better health, using your onsite clinic as the primary engine.