It has now been 19 months since my quit date. Before I quit smoking, I had all the quit jokes in my back pocket. You know what I’m talking about. Things like:
“Quitting smoking is easy. I should know, I’ve done it hundreds of times…”
“This is my last cigarette… until the next one.”
“I tried using the patch, but I just couldn’t keep the darn thing lit!”
All fun and games aside, there is only one question you need to ask yourself. Do you WANT to quit? This is a question within yourself. Do not answer your spouse, friends, loved ones, etc. But truly be honest with yourself. Because, if you don’t WANT to quit… guess what… you WONT!
For years, I didn’t really want to quit, but I didn’t know that until later. I mean, I wanted to quit for all the right reasons: Bad for my health; Smells terrible; Longer life; Children, etc. But, I just enjoyed it too darn much! And that’s where I got lost. I started sounding like a drug addict and abuser. So, I decided to psych myself out, and remind myself that each cigarette I smoked was killing me and is nasty.
Now that you have identified that you truly do want to quit, you’ve made the biggest step. It’s not the hardest step in this journey, but it IS the largest one. But, before you actually quit smoking, there are a few things that you should think about.
Just what IS smoking?
Long-term smoking is actually two habits. One is the nicotine addiction that your body craves. When your body starts craving the lack of nicotine, people call it “the shakes” or “nerves”. You know what I’m talking about. When you don’t get a cigarette, you get cranky, shaky, maybe scatterbrained. You can’t seem to focus on anything. This is the nicotine withdrawal kicking in.
The second habit is the psychological one. This addiction is trigger-based, and occurs at specific times. Examples would be having a cigarette after a meal, or while driving. Maybe it’s when drinking a beer or coffee. Whatever the trigger is, this is they habit that you’ve created in your mind.
So, what did I do about it?
Well, going cold turkey didn’t help me in one bit. Quitting two addictions at the same time?!? Seriously? That’s like taking away my computer AND my phone. It’s horrible. So, I needed to attack each addiction separately. To do this, I chose the patch. This meant that I was going to fight my mind-addiction first, while still feeding my body nicotine.
How do you attack the mind-meld on smoking?
Identify ALL your triggers. For me, it was:
- Drinking coffee (the stronger the coffee, the more desire to smoke)
- Full stomach (after meals)
- Times of stress
- Work breaks
There were other smaller ones, but these 4 pretty much took up the entire day. Once you have your triggers, what can you replace it with?
For me, my replacements were:
- Drink tea instead of coffee. This still gave me my hot caffeinated drink, while not triggering my need for a cigarette.
- While driving, keep something in the car with you. I used toothpicks alot to play with my teeth. I also kept dum-dum suckers with me, and a bag of almonds.
- Full stomach. This was harder. I had to do portion control. I would stop eating before I got full. Then, after the meal, I would distract myself with video-games, walking, workouts, etc.
- During times of stress, I would work out. But, I wouldn’t always be around a gym, would I? I used push-ups mostly. I would push the anger and stress out of me with pushups, where ever I was, and I would keep going until my arms gave out.
- During work breaks, I would walk. It was summer time, so I would walk around the offices, or the parking lot, or… just wherever.
Obviously, some of these may not be suitable for you. They are just examples. But, the main thing to remember, is to identify your triggers and replace them with something else. Oh, but NOTHING addicting. We are trying to fight it, remember?
You are picking up that cigarette for a reason. Maybe you are even smoking while reading this. Don’t put it down, or stop. But, be aware of your breaths. When you inhale the smoke, what is it REALLY doing for you? Calming you down? Maybe, but that’s what deep breaths of oxygen does too. So, the next time you exhale that gray, used, smelly smoke, that has been infused with who knows what kinds of chemicals nowadays, ask yourself….. is it REALLY doing anything for me?
Smoking WAS doing something for me. And I don’t care who it was that was asking. I could justify anything, to keep smoking. But, then again… that’s our legacy of the human race. We can justify anything to ourselves. The question is… are you being truthful to yourself?
So, now you are ready? What’s next?
After your list of triggers and replacements, you’ll need to set a date. Don’t do it tomorrow. Don’t do it next week. Give yourself at least 7-10 days. This will give you time to think about it. To prepare yourself. I chose May 1, because it was my birthday month. At least, I *think* it was on the first. Pretty sure it was.
Once you have your date set, then you can get your patches in hand. Don’t want patches? Ok, then maybe you can do something else. But, my experience was in the patches.
The last step, is to tell people about it. Here’s the thing…. we fail ourselves all the time. We are used to it. We’ve accepted the fact that we can’t do everything. So, if you keep it to yourself, you are giving yourself a way out. A chance that you will just fail again, and move on. BUT, telling others about it, changes things. You might feel more accountable. Failing yourself is one thing, but failing and disappointing others is entirely different.
Finally, the all encompassing aspect of this journey, is to pray and build your faith. Faith that God will give you the strength and nourishment that you need to get through this difficult time. He will listen. He will guide you. You’re reading this, right? Sounds like guidance to me! 🙂
Good luck, and God Bless!