New England 61 Day Challenge: Quitting smoking

For many people who are trying to swear off soda, sweets and cigarettes for the New England 61 Day Challenge, the cigarettes will be the hardest of the three to either cut down on or cut out entirely.

However, that challenge is a good way to illustrate that the point of this challenge is to do whatever you can, and if that means cutting down as opposed to quitting entirely, that’s fine.

“I think less is always better,” said Dr. Kathy Mueller of the Integrative Medicine Department at Saint Francis Hospital, “there’s no good amount of smoking but if you were smoking two packs a day and you’re down to one, that’s a huge accomplishment.”

“We understand it’s not going to be easy for everyone, but just signing up I think signals your commitment to living a longer and healthy life,” said Dr. Reggie Eadie, the President and CEO of Trinity Health of New England.

If you quit when the challenge starts on November 1st, and you’re still going strong, then good for you! Dr. Mueller said the physical symptoms of addiction should have gone away in about two weeks, but she also cautioned you on getting complacent.

“Until you hit six months, it still can pretty challenging,” she said, “this is not, ‘I’ve done so well for a month or two that I can just have one.’ It’s too addictive.“

If you’re just trying to quit now for the first time, or even for the fifth time, then good for you as well! Dr. Mueller said your best chance of success is to plan for it, by putting what she calls “tools” for your quitting “toolbox.” She said the single biggest tool you can use is a way, in whatever way works for you, to reduce the immense stress that quitting can cause.

“It can be as simple as breath work. It can be journaling. It can be taking a walk,” she said, “there are lots and lots of tools that are out there.”

The doctors and experts at Trinity Health of New England also want to offer you help.

“So if someone’s going to take the challenge who is a smoker and who’s going to stop smoking cigarettes, we’ve got smoking cessation classes,” said Dr. Eadie.

“We have group classes, we have big meetings and we also have individual consultation,” said Dr. Mueller, “we use things like hypnosis, we use acupuncture, we use mind body medicine and we use meditation.”