I have now been smoke free for almost two years. I was a chain smoker. At least every thirty minutes I would get the urge to have a cigarette. Yet, after just two months the worst part was over. I began to live without having to permanently think about cigarettes or be at the mercy of my addiction. However, unfortunately, a “smoking career” is not something which you ever fully overcome. That is something which you should, or rather, must be aware of. Relapses can occur even after many years. A smoke free life means constantly working on freeing oneself from one’s addiction, acquiring constructive habits and going through life with mindfulness while being convinced of the benefits of a smoke free life.
In the following I will reveal the effort and attitude which allowed me to successfully quit smoking. I had previously tried dozens of times to quit and had taken countless notes on my reasons for doing so. It would be a source of delight for me if readers of this blog manage to find their own personal reasons for being smoke free in the course of reading this article. It is worth it; in my opinion a life without tobacco is a happier life.
Dealing with relapses when attempting to quit smoking
I began with a classic smoking cessation book from Allen Carr, in which repetition plays a large role. After reading this book it became clear to me that in no time one single cigarette can lead you back into the nicotine trap. After quitting smoking it is extremely important to avoid all nicotine products for at least three weeks. The name of the game is to avoid stress as well as social occassions with friends and acquaintances who smoke. Depending on one’s willpower, it is also advisable to forgo the beloved coffee breaks where cigarettes traditionally played an important role.
In my case I finally managed to make it through a whole month smoke free after having previously tried around ten times. In order to achieve this it is key to stay motivated. It is helpful to know that many others have tried and failed over and over again before finally being successful.
For me personally a book on smoking cessation offered me the greatest aid in establishing the resolute will to quit smoking. If the first book you come across on the topic does not bring you the success you desire, then try out one of the many other available ones. It is likely that in one of these you will find the tip which speaks to you or provides the necessary attitude for leading a smoke free life.
It is highly recommendable to take part in a support group. The more time you invest in your attempt to quit smoking, the more reason you will have, and the more motivated you will be, to not smoke anymore. It is important to be aware of the fact that there are many wonderful alternative ways to spend one’s time than smoking. I currently prefer to spend my time writing. And so after having written an article, a chapter of a book or an e-mail, I take the time to reflect on how much more valuable these activities are than smoking.
A short list of cigarette alternatives:
- an exciting chapter of an audiobook
- a short walk in the fresh air, ideally accompanied by a pleasant conversation with a friend
- a few pages of an interesting book which should constantly be by your side
- practice conscious breathing or possibly integrate a mini meditation into your day
- take ten minutes every day to define your goals or at least rethink your current ones
- actively take the time to search for alternatives to cigarettes – often 5 minutes will be enough
The issues explored in the coming paragraphs should contribute to the development of a fundamental attitude towards smoking. As with any objective it is crucial to know why you wish to achieve this.
It is not essential to mention that smoking harms one’s health. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile illuminating this fact with the help of concrete examples. From a financial perspective it is worth thinking about the things which you could afford if you were to give up smoking. Personally, during my almost two years of being smoke free I have been able to save several thousand francs. Additionally, society’s attitude towards smoking is becoming less and less accepting. As a smoker it is not very pleasant to be received in a manner which is less than friendly. The reduced physical capabilities of smokers become more and more noticeable as one gets older and can become a burden.
The following considerations may offer aid to those attempting to quit smoking for good:
- increased risk of cancer and heart attack. After just two years of being smoke free this risk is lowered
- oxygen consumption of the lungs is improved after just a few months -physical activities, exercise and hikes become easier
- one’s financial situation is improved
- as family members or colleagues smokers are bad role models. Is that desired?
- you gain time and every relationship which you have is improved
- you smell better – smokers can often be recognised from their bad breath and yellow teeth – the risk of gum disease and premature loss of teeth is reduced
- a less vulnerable immune system due to the fact that the mucous membranes are no longer being subject to a constant onslaught
- as a result of the improved sense of smell and more awakened taste buds, meals taste better
- having improved circulation has many advantages such as the fact that cognitive faculties are enhanced. When combined with exercise one feels cognitively more agile and fresh.
Is it really all that difficult to give up smoking?
If you really want to do it and have established your reasons for doing so, the next step is to survive the first two months. Afterwards, while it will remain a challenge, it will no longer appear impossible. After three days nearly all of the nicotine leaves the system and after a month one can no longer sense many of the effects of smoking.
For me, the most important guiding principles which allowed me to overcome my hurdles and become a non-smoker were and remain:
Use as many helpful resources as you can!!
- Write, take part in courses, read books, find your “why?”
- Nicotine patches (for me, nicotine patches were a great help in weaning myself off cigarettes) – in the first few months chewing gum and tablets prescribed by your doctor are recommendable, or even desperately needed.
The last book which I read on the topic was “Smoke free in 30 Days”. It talks of a permanent way to stay smoke free. I have listed this book in this blog under the section entitled “Books/Habits” (there is also an audiobook version which can be found on Audible).
Quitting smoking is a process. It is the positive result of much willpower and self-belief. Being smoke free can lead to a life which is more fulfilled, active and healthy. Unfortunately, a relapse can never truly be ruled out, even after years. Thus, overcoming an addiction means continually working on yourself.