21 Apr You Can Quit Smoking
We’re coming up on our fourth week of lockdown. For those who strategically stocked up on what is now considered to be contraband, your initial 21-day provisions might be thinning out. Rather than lamenting your situation, why not use this as an opportunity to kick a bad habit?
Countless studies and medical professionals confirm that smoking cigarettes compromise your immune system. With the novel Coronavirus making its rounds, the best thing you can do for your body is to ensure your immunity is working at its best.
Covid-19 has also been said to be a respiratory infection that has the potential to damage your lungs long term. Smokers are already susceptible to lung cancer, because the nicotine, tobacco and tar in each cigarette goes straight to your lungs. A deadly virus attacking already weak lungs is like a disaster waiting to happen.
This isn’t mentioned as a cheap scare tactic, but rather an earnest conversation to say that you have the power to heal your body. Basically, if you’re considering quitting, never has there been a better time.
HOW TO DO IT:
Not only is quitting a matter of fighting a nicotine addiction, but the act itself has also become ingrained in your muscle memory. You’re going to have to find healthy alternatives, coping mechanisms if you will, to help you through the transition. The upside is, if you stick to your commitment to quit, in a few months, the smell of cigarette smoke will repulse you and you’ll never want to smoke one again.
WEAN YOURSELF OFF
Every smoker has tried to quit at least once. As a former smoker myself, going ‘cold turkey’ never really lasted long. I’d do well for a few weeks, but then something would stress me out and all I’d crave was a nicotine kick.
What worked for me was slowing down to an eventual stop. If you smoke a pack a day, challenge yourself to survive on 10, then go down to three. Eventually, you might get to one a day with your morning coffee or a celebratory cig at the end of the day.
AVOID YOUR TRIGGERS
We all have a friend who’s a social smoker, they don’t own cigarettes because they don’t really smoke unless they’ve had a drink or two. You might even get to this stage in your quitting process; your inhibitions begin to slip as you become more inebriated, so you think ‘what difference is one silly smoke gonna make?’
Skip this stage altogether by decreasing your alcohol consumption, or if you’re really serious about breaking the habit take all socialising from a bar environment to a restaurant one – or avoid it all together.
And you make sure to not have cigarettes lying anywhere then you’ll probably be able to get through a glass of wine without a smoke.
Stressful situations used to be a point of contention for me. I’d work myself up, just so I could calm myself down with a cigarette. Now I manage my time diligently, I only commit to work that I know I will be able to deliver, I’ve let friendships that were filled with drama oxidize. It’s important that you create an environment that supports and supplements what you are hoping to achieve.
Nicotine withdrawal comes with headaches, fatigue, nausea and a crappy mood. Instead of lashing out at your loved ones when something bugs you, plug in your headphones and meditate for a few minutes. There are a number of calming guided meditation podcasts on the net that are incredibly effective.
When you’re craving a smoke, go wash the dishes instead or brush your teeth. You can easily trick your brain by the promise of a smoke ‘after I’ve done the laundry’ or ‘when I get through this assignment’. Once you’ve completed that task, set another one to placate your craving, and after you’ve completed it, set another, and another, and another. By the end of the day you’ll notice you’ve filled your time with productive activities. Your success might motivate you to stay the course.
Exercise was a personal saviour. My goal was to replace smoking with fitness and running with a tight chest (smoking as an asthmatic really isn’t a good idea) made me miserable. Sacrificing cigarettes became easier when I considered that I’d run faster, for longer, and more comfortably. Completing a marathon might not be your alternative of choice; reading might be or drawing. Whatever it might be, find something you enjoy that you can spend time investing in. As you improve in your distraction of choice, you’ll begin to view smoking as a hindrance to your personal project.
Telephonic counseling is available through The National Council against Smoking on 011 720 3145. Useful information like advice on managing withdrawal symptoms can be sent to you daily.
CANSA runs an online programme which offers support to smokers hoping to kick their habit. Go to Ekickbutt.org.za.
QuitNow! was voted one of the best apps to help smokers quit in 2019. It helps keep individuals track their days smoke-free – you’ll also get an idea of the time and money you’ve saved since quitting. Other functions on the app include supportive chat rooms.
Download your own habit tracker. Faithful to Nature has designed a downloadable pdf that will enable you to track your habits in a physical way, allowing you to visually see your progress as time goes by.