Now that it’s New Year’s resolution time, I thought I would share how I quit smoking. Yes, it took eight years for me but I did it cold turkey, no smoking aids. It’s been a month and a half since I stopped so I don’t think I’ll jinx it. If anyone is thinking about quitting smoking, I hope these lessons help!
I started smoking in college, but honestly I don’t even remember why I started. My dad smoked, probably died from smoking, but my mother never did. At about 11 years old, she and a group of people were in the middle of a war zone – the Korean War. A couple of people in the group were “jonesing” for cigarettes so they crossed the line – they never came back. This story leads me to Lesson One – cigarettes are super addicting, so quitting is super hard. It’s probably one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done. So if it takes awhile, it takes awhile. I really tried to remember that every time I wanted to beat myself up when I started up again.
Lesson Two – cutting down makes quitting easier.
It only makes sense. In the end I smoked one cigarette every other day. The amount of nicotine in my body and therefore the amount of nicotine my body craved was so much less than if I still smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. This is the order I cut down to get to one cigarette every other day. 1) Quit smoking inside – I started living with Tom and we couldn’t smoke inside with Zach coming over every other weekend. 2) Quit bringing cigarettes to work – I didn’t like the smell of smoke on my work clothes and I didn’t enjoy hanging out with the other smokers. 3) Quit smoking after breakfast – I didn’t like the smell of smoke in my hair at work. 4) Quit smoking every day, to every other day – I wanted to test to see if my body could live without cigarettes for a day. 5) Quit smoking – it was more painful to smoke every other day because I suffered from withdrawal symptoms on the days I didn’t smoke so if I quit I would just have to suffer once, not over and over again.
Lesson Three – figure out why I was still smoking and deal with it. For me, smoking was a great stress reliever. I’d get mad at something, then I’d smoke. I’d be upset about something, then I’d smoke. What I realized was that for the most part I was getting mad and/or upset at things I couldn’t control. I had to deal with that problem, instead of smoking. So I did and I still do every day. And I’m not smoking.
Final Lesson – I had to really want to quit. It took me eight years because I enjoyed smoking. I cut down so I was content with the progress I made. The doctors told my dad that he had to quit because of his high blood pressure. I remember he tried to cut down once, but in the end, he just didn’t want to quit, then he died. My mom used to visit this guy in a nursing home who smoked through a hole in his throat. He didn’t want to quit either, then he died too. I bet neither of them regretted smoking despite their health issues, because I bet they found it enjoyable. Well, I finally found it not so enjoyable. I actually just felt like crap. The twenty something years I smoked finally got to me and I didn’t want to feel like that anymore – that’s when I really wanted to quit. Now I feel so much better!
I learned a lot about myself from quitting smoking, not just physically but mentally as well. I’m still not the healthiest person on the planet but quitting smoking helps. I hope it can help other people as well. Happy New Year!