Three years ago I wrote a post about stopping smoking. Today, I am now 3 years smoke-free!
On the 1st October 2013 I stopped smoking.
I originally just wanted to make it through the 28 days of the Stoptober challenge. I ordered the NHS Stoptober pack and it told me that if you stop smoking for 28 days, you are 5 times more likely to stop altogether.
I wanted to give it a try and I told myself it’s just 28 days. If I’m not feeling it, then I can go back to smoking. Before I knew it, I was 2 years smoke free and now I’ve just completed 3 years no smoking.
Stopping smoking was something I had wanted to do for a while. I had tried and failed many times.
I was embarrassed to admit to everyone that I was a smoker. I remember writing that post and being ashamed that you all knew now I smoke.
When I was a student, I didn’t mind people seeing me smoke, but as I got older, it started to embarrass me more and more. When people found out I smoked, they would always be so shocked because it doesn’t seem very me. I think I come across very girl next door. I don’t even know if I’ve used that phrase in the right context.
Smoking doesn’t suit me and I probably seem too goody-goody-two-shoes to smoke. That’s what I mean.
So every time someone would find out they would gasp. Sometimes I would feel like they were disappointed. I got to the point where I hated people seeing me smoke.
My history with smoking hasn’t been consistent. I started at 16 but I didn’t smoke a lot. Not even daily. When I went to university, I was smoking a lot more. You could still smoke in pubs and clubs in my first year of university so I would constantly have a drink in one hand and a cigarette in another.
The next day I would feel like I have a massive elastic band around my throat stopping me from breathing.
I stopped near the end of my first year for around a year when I decided to start looking after myself a lot more in general. Then going out with friends who smoked got me tempted. So I’d smoke when drunk. Which led to buying cigarettes before a night out. Which led to smoking them when I was sober because I had them so why not.
By the time I moved to France, I was smoking again but in denial. Then the cheap prices got me and I was back to smoking properly again.
The next few years were full of good intentions of stopping but then starting again. Living with smokers made it hard.
Then Christine and I decided to stop.
My other housemate didn’t want to. But she did stop smoking a few months later.
I used an electric cigarette which helped. For the first 2 weeks, the electric cigarette didn’t seem to do much. It didn’t hit the back of my throat like I craved.
That’s what my addiction to smoking was like. It was like having an itch in the back of your throat, an emptiness that was satisfied when you smoked.
But before long, the liquid was giving me the same feeling. That’s when I knew it would work and that’s when I knew where I went wrong before when I had tried electric cigarettes. I didn’t give myself enough time to adjust.
I was using the electric cigarette less and less. In the end, I was just carrying it with me in case.
I know I’ve spoken about stopping smoking before and wrote about the book that helped me stop smoking and lead a healthier lifestyle, but I feel it’s important to revisit the things you’re proud of achieving. Especially when you can be as hard on yourself as I can.
Benefits of stopping smoking:
Quitting smoking offers a wide range of benefits for both your immediate health and your long-term well-being. Here are some of the significant benefits of being smoke-free:
- Improved Respiratory Health: Quitting smoking leads to a noticeable improvement in your lung function. Your lung capacity increases, making it easier to breathe. Coughing and wheezing also decrease.
- Reduced Risk of Serious Illnesses: Smoking is a leading cause of several life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Quitting smoking reduces your risk of developing these conditions.
- Longer Life Expectancy: Smokers tend to have shorter life spans compared to non-smokers. Quitting smoking can add years to your life and increase your overall life expectancy.
- Improved Cardiovascular Health: Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels, leading to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Quitting smoking reduces this risk and improves overall heart health.
- Better Oral Health: Smoking is a major contributor to dental problems such as gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Quitting smoking can improve your oral health and hygiene.
- Enhanced Senses: Smoking can dull your sense of taste and smell. After quitting, many people report that their sense of taste and smell become more acute.
- Improved Skin: Smoking accelerates the aging process and can cause premature wrinkles, yellowing of the skin, and other skin issues. Quitting can lead to healthier-looking skin.
- Better Physical Fitness: Smoking impairs physical performance and endurance. After quitting, you may find it easier to engage in physical activities and improve your fitness levels.
- Improved Mental Health: Smoking and mental health issues often go hand in hand. While quitting smoking can be challenging, many people report improved mental well-being and reduced anxiety and depression after quitting.
- Financial Savings: Smoking is an expensive habit. Quitting can lead to significant cost savings over time, as you no longer need to buy cigarettes.
- Reduced Secondhand Smoke Exposure: By quitting smoking, you protect the health of those around you, including family and friends, by reducing their exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Enhanced Sense of Control: Overcoming nicotine addiction and quitting smoking can give you a sense of empowerment and control over your life and health.
- Improved Fertility: Smoking can affect fertility in both men and women. Quitting smoking can improve your chances of conceiving if you’re trying to start a family.
- Enhanced Quality of Life: Overall, quitting smoking leads to a better quality of life, with improved physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
It’s important to note that quitting smoking can be challenging, and many people may require support through counselling, medication, or support groups to successfully quit. However, the benefits of being smoke-free far outweigh the challenges, and the sooner you quit, the sooner you can start experiencing these positive changes in your health and life.
What habit or negative cycle have you managed to break?
Update: It’s now 2023 and I still don’t smoke!