Here’s a New Year’s Resolution that Could Save Your life.
As the train pulled into my stop this morning, I looked up to see a young man, for me that’s the 30s, staring out the window with a cigarette hanging from his lips. He was the first to step out the door.
There wasn’t a second to waste.
I remember those days, the cravings, unwrapping the new box, pounding and smacking it on the palm of my hand to release that first beauty. I was up to two packs a day when I quit.
And this is when cigarettes were a whopping $1.50 a pack.
It occurred to me that it’s December again, the month of resolutions. And quitting smoking is one of the best ones anyone can make.
It’s not easy, but I’m proof it can be done. And I’m not alone.
Want to give it a try?
Commit to Quit
Identify the reasons you continue to smoke and then identify the reasons you want to quit. Write it down if it helps. Compare lists. The reasons to stop smoking make more sense than the reasons to continue.
I quit with Smoke Enders, and every time I smoked a cigarette, I had to write down the reason. After writing down several, over 20 a day, it dawned on me that there was no good reason to smoke.
Get rid of lights, ashtrays, and anything else smoke related.
Once you decide, commit. Don’t use the word ‘try.’ You want to do it. You will do it. If you’ve done it before and failed, consider it a temporary setback because now you are going to quit.
The physical withdrawal symptoms come first. Nicotine is entirely out of your system in 72-hours, and symptoms are the worst on day two or three. Most cravings last 10–20 minutes.
Both alcohol and food are stimuli to smoke, so do what you can to keep your mouth clean throughout the day. Floss your teeth and use mints to keep your mouth fresh.
The first two weeks are the worst, so keep yourself occupied. Exercise when you can go for walks, to the gym, yoga. And yoga has the added benefit of reminding you to breathe.
Why is the breathing aspect important?
Haven’t you heard smokers say that smoking relaxes them? It’s not the nicotine or the many other chemicals in cigarettes that are relaxing; it’s the breathing. You’re breathing in and breathing out regularly.
And you can undoubtedly breathe without a cigarette in your hands. Breathe in and out slowly through your nose. Close your eyes. Do it at least five times, and you’ll feel relaxed.
If you don’t want to exercise, think of other ways to keep your hands busy: cook, clean, draw, write.
Another option is Nicotine Replacement Therapy. It decreases cravings, but at the cost of putting nicotine back in your body. Consider not considering it.
Physical v. Emotional Addiction
You might think that once you’ve overcome the physical addiction, it’s smooth sailing. But 80 percent of smoking addiction is an emotional addiction to a habit.
You’ve programmed smoking into your life as part of a routine. This makes the tobacco industry very happy.
Smoking gives you something to do and lets us procrastinate. During my college years, I remember that anytime I didn’t want to do something, I’d go outside and light up. It gave me two to three minutes at most. It’s not a lot, but it adds up.
Remember, I said two packs a day, and there are 20 per box. Or at least there used to be.
Think about it. Have a free minute? Feeling stressed? Anxious or bored? Then why not light up?
Join a Support Group
You’re not alone in your efforts to quit smoking, so there’s no need to go it alone.
According to the World Health Organization, over 1 billion people worldwide smoke, that’s 20 percent of the world’s population. And there are programs out there to help you stay the route.
Smoke Enders now works through weekly videos, daily action steps, and a closed Facebook Group. I only saw one in-person group, and it was not in the U.S. It might be worth it to give them a call and ask about beginning a chapter. Their number is: (205) 530–5801
It’s what the founder of the group joined did.
Smoke Enders is unique in that it insists you smoke while you learn how to quit. All I can say is, it worked for me.
Freedom From Smoking, a program offered by the American Lung Association, provides an in-person eight-week clinic led by a certified facilitator. Groups are small, with eight to 16 people.
Hospitals also offer smoking cessation programs. These are multidisciplinary teams of health professionals whose job is to help smokers become non-smokers. In many instances, the program is free.
In my area, two of the biggest programs are offered by the MA General Hospital and Boston Medical Center. However, most major hospitals provide some type of smoking cessation program.
The American Cancer Society has a list of resources to help you with both the physical and mental aspects of smoking. Click on the link or give them a call at 1-(800)-227–2345.
If you really want to quit, and not just want to want to quit, try hypnosis. The mind is a very powerful tool, and if you are committed, you can stop in one session. Look for a certified hypnotist from the National Guild of Hypnotists to find someone in your area.
As a final suggestion, if you need a support group and there is none in your area, start one! Get the handouts, join the Facebook group, then get together to support one another on the road to nicotine recovery.
Go for walks. Have smoke-free occasions to celebrate your freedom from tobacco.
Freeing yourself from the smoking habit isn’t easy, but it is worth it. It’s not just that you’ll live longer, it’s also the quality of life while you live it.
With the current cost of cigarettes, you’ll save $520 a year if you’re a one- pack a day smoker and $1,040 if you’re a two-pack a day smoker.
And don’t forget that smokers tend to take longer to recover from illness. That’s money and time spent going to the doctor or the ER.
Need more encouragement?
Fill a jar a quarter of the way with water and collect your cigarette butts. This is what is going on in your lungs. And finally, give it a smell.
Begin collecting information from the resources listed above and making plans. Cross the days off your calendar. You have another 20 days to prepare to quit.
This year, resolve to help yourself and save an essential life: yours.