True Confessions of an Ex-Smoker
Okay, I’ll come clean. I once smoked.
This surprises people, as I don’t look like a smoker, whatever that means.
Smoking is serious and quitting is very difficult. I quit for good 20 years ago. I told myself that all I had to do was get through that day.
I smoked no small amount and I am not proud of it. Smoking promotes dishonesty. Smokers don’t really tell you how much they smoke.
Smoking is a serious addiction. I still say that I am one cigarette away from being a pack-and-a-half-a-day smoker. While the first puff may be nauseating, soon I’d be craving another one even if I didn’t really want it.
My mom died of lung cancer at the young age of 63. Smoking kills and it doesn’t do it nicely. Smoking puts stress on your heart, affects your blood pressure and if you are pregnant it has been associated with a higher incidence of miscarriage and low birth weight.
One day I woke up and realized smoking controlled me and it was time to be honest with myself.
I had to be ready and no one could push me to quit. I didn’t just have to quit smoking, though. I had to relinquish an entire set of events that over the years had become connected to smoking. This was the hard work. Smoking signaled relaxation. It was wonderful with a cup of coffee, a conversation, a meal or a phone call. I needed to learn how to laugh, cry, drink a beverage and drive a car without a cigarette.
I continued to tell myself that I was not quitting forever – just for that day. Each morning I told myself the same thing. I joined a gym. I went to places where smoking was prohibited. I gave myself rewards along the way. I quit cold turkey.
Quitting smoking is not easy. Here are some guidelines for when you are
Stop Smoking Tips
1. Plan your quitting date. Prepare mentally. Imagine yourself as a non-smoker and see the advantages.
2. Look at your personal triggers for smoking. Which cigarettes do you enjoy and which are simply habit? When do you smoke – morning, evening, after a meal? Where do you smoke – work, party, phone or outdoors? Why do you smoke – angry, bored, stressed, excited? Do you smoke alone or do you smoke socially? Smoking may have felt like a friend. Not smoking may feel sad and there will be associated losses. Look at why you smoked so you can find substitutions. For example, if smoking signaled relaxation, a nice cup of herbal tea or relaxation exercises could do the same.
3. Write down your reasons for quitting. What will be hard and how will you deal with it? Track your progress in a daily journal.
4. Recognize that you might initially feel worse when you first quit smoking. You may cough more, have headaches, feel teary, irritable, preoccupied, have an increased appetite and have difficulty sleeping. These are normal and should disappear in the first week.
5. Look at realistic substitutes for smoking. Physical activity, mints, water, tooth brushing, and keeping busy all help. Have healthy, low-fat snacks close by and consider joining a gym.
6. Put some money away each day that would have gone into cigarettes. Think of what you’d really like to buy and reward yourself. Be kind to yourself. It’s an important gift when you are quitting.
7. Warn others that you might be irritable. There will be some very difficult moments. Get your team of friends, family and co-workers and seek psychological support even before quitting to help you through the actual physical and psychological addiction. Go for walks and practice positive self talk to get you through the moment. Avoid people and situations that you associate with smoking until you can handle them without a cigarette.
8. Talk to your physician about the nicotine patch and other products that can be used as an adjunct to behavioral treatments to physiologically reduce the nicotine craving and make quitting easier.
9. Most people quit several times before they finally quit for good. You can learn from your mistakes. You just may not yet have found ways that help you succeed.
Source: Batya L. Ludman (licensed clinical psychologist), The Jerusalem Post
— Each debilitating deadly ingredient in each horrendous cancer stick is a thousand more reasons not to inhale it. ~Leslie Bainbridge
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