How to beat smoking, other bad habits with better self-control

A new study says mindful meditation may help increase self-control for smokers, but experts also emphasize the importance of integrating techniques such as goal setting and accountability.

Story highlights

  • Mindful meditation may influence smokers' self-control, even among those who are not intending to quit
  • Goal setting, planning and public accountability are expert tools for strengthening self-control
  • Go digital for additional support in tracking progress and keeping goals top of mind

(CNN)Ready to kick your bad habit once and for all?

Even if you're not completely committed yet, there's a technique that may unconsciously help, whether you're intending to quit smoking, binge eating, gambling or another addictive behavior -- and even if you don't think you're ready.
A review of addiction research, published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, suggests mindful meditation strengthens self-control in smokers, even among those smokers who haven't set an intention to quit.
    This form of mental training, which originates from Buddhist meditation, focuses on becoming self-aware of one's experience. According to the review, the technique can improve areas in the brain related to self-control, which modulate stress and emotions and may be helpful in coping with addiction symptoms.
    In a featured study, Texas Tech University and University of Oregon researchers split up a group of 60 undergraduates (27 smokers and 33 non-smokers) who came into the program only expecting to learn meditation and relaxation techniques. Half received relaxation training and half took