- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Quitting smoking some new tricks
Having smoked my first cigarette at the age of eight, 2 and a half years later a packet of twenty would barely last me a day. Not only did this leave my lungs in less than perfect condition but it also put my willpower to the test age-13 when I needed to quit.
We all know smoking is bad for us. My generation especially has it drilled into from being in Primary school, but, I recently found out some shocking statics that made me realise how thankful I am that I did quit.
Half of all lifetime smokers will die from their habit, usually middle aged.
A 20-a-day smoker breathes up to a cupful of tar a year
After having a cigarette it takes 8 hours for the carbon monoxide levels to half in your blood
One person dies every tens seconds from smoking
Smokers are more likely to develop coronary thrombosis 10 years earlier than non-smokers, and make up 9 out of 10 heart bypass patients
Over 30% of heart attacks in the UK are caused by smoking
Smokers are more likely to become impotent, especially so for men in their 30's or 40's.
Quitting smoking is never easy and the conventional treatments didn't work for me. So, this Hub is going to be exploring a couple of the of the more quirky and unorthodox methods that rid me of my nicotine dependency.
Firstly, one thing that I am certain of, from the many times I failed attempting to quit, is that once you say you're quitting- you can never take another cigarette to your mouth- or it's all over. One puff is all it takes to take you right back to square one of addiction. Draw a line under it from the start and say to yourself “no more” and mean it.
You may be thinking to yourself that you can't do that. That you can't last a day without a cigarette. This is all about patterning you thoughts. There's a great book out there called Neurolinguistc Programming For Dummies...sounds complicated but it's just about retraining your mind to become more optimistic and positive thinking. Addiction really is a state of mind- cravings control what we do and when we do them. The worst thing for me about smoking was that I couldn't last fifteen minutes without a cigarette break. Can you imagine that in school? It drove my teachers crazy! The weak bladder excuse lasted a week.
Nicotine replacement products are still feeding the addiction and in my opinion, that is why so many smokers fail using them. Addictions, no matter what sort, be them to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, chocolate, carrots sticks or counting sheep are not healthy because that is the nature of an addiction. Replacing an addiction with what seems to be a healthier one will not suffice either because that can just lead to us getting unhealthier in other aspects of our lives. My friend used to eat chocolate every time she had a craving, needless, to say she gained a lot of weight. Cravings are easier to handle if you can work out the times when you get them the most. Things like, stress, meals, boredom or drinks in a bar are common triggers for cravings. One of the big ones for me was stress. I never knew what to do when I got a craving. All I knew was that I wanted a cigarette badly and that I shouldn't have one. I put an elastic band on my wrist and every time I consciously “caught” myself thinking about cigarettes I'd flick the band. It's like an instant distraction and if you get a craving twang yourself with it and say “I can beat this, I am strong than a chemical craving.” Cravings never last for more than 3-5 minutes so you've just got to get your mind onto another path as soon as possible.
Two things that can change the track of your mind ( and please excuse the childish mature, I was 13 at the time. But again it works),
The first is a simple game. When a craving comes along you picture the alphabet. For each letter of the alphabet you have to come up with an object, person or animal etc and imagine it smoking a cigarette. You then somehow destroy the cigarette in a funny unusual manner and continue through the alphabet.
The second is even worse I'm afraid. Bend each one of your finger and toe joints in turn and really concentrate on the movement. A bit embarrassing in public if you're staring at your hands for extended amounts of time while bending your fingers in patterns but oh well it's for your health!
For me, being without a packet of cigarettes made me incredibly anxious, thus increasing the temptation to actually have one. The only way I found to get around this was to keep a packet of cigs with me. Sounds crazy, right? Unorthodox? Yes? But it worked? I didn't feel anxious because I knew I had the cigarettes.
You're dependency upon cigarettes has probably been one of the most trusting relationships ever. When have they ever let you down? Apart from when you couldn't light one in the rain? It's intense and a secure routine. You do the same thing ever time every time you go to light up. This dependency, this drug, has infringed its way into your life, your way of thinking and even people's general image of you. Almost every aspect of your life will be affected by smoking, go on, think about it. This comes at a price. When you quit, it effects you're emotions. For some it's like been a stroppy teenager all over again but it's all part of the process. It's withdrawals and perfectly normal and for many it's not quite so extreme. Many emotions are experienced though particularly, anger, denial, complacency, and depression. Let people around you know that you are quitting and keep them up to date on what you are doing. If they smoke, get them in on it.
What you'll notice pretty quickly with no nicotine in your system, (takes 48 hours for nicotine to leave your system), is that your ability to smell and taste improves dramatically. What we want to do is take advantage of this to kick the cravings into touch. Acidic fruit juices according to a health visitor I saw when I was quitting can actually help speed up the process of the nicotine leaving your system. Cranberry juice especially but the low sugar variety. Try foods that you haven't tried in a while and you'll be surprised at how well they taste. Watch what you get as well because smoking helps you keep weight off easily and suppresses your appetite. Don't skip meals though because that'll just increase the cravings, instead spread out your daily calorie allowance throughout the day to eat little and often.
Motivate yourself as well. When you would normally go to buy a packet of cigarette actually put that money somewhere. I put the money in a money box and by the end of the month I was already amazed at how much had already accumulated. I used to spend roughly £40 (around $65) a week on cigarettes. A year that's a total of £2080 a year ($3380). That makes me cringe to even think about now. Just think it's a holiday/vacation or even a new kitchen!
I hope this helps. Quitting smoking is something I have never looked back on and the best advice one smoking I can give is this “Don't start!”