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Here's How I Stopped Smoking
I started smoking when I was 11 and quit when I was 31. I tried to quit many times before but the longest I ever went was 3 months or so and then something would upset me or I would have a couple drinks and start right back up again. The same old story many smokers face. I smoked for so long that it was a part of me and I couldn't imagine what I would do if I didn't smoke.
Finally I succeeded and it has now been almost 5 years (as of 11/09) and I barely think about it. The one thing I learned is that there is no one way to stop smoking. Smoking is such a tough addiction to beat and each person has their own way. My way is described below. I hope it helps you.
The first thing I have to say to any smoker is, bottom line, you have to want it. You can't quit for other people because then your heart isn't fully in it. You are more apt to slip if your heart's not there. Learn the facts about smoking and you'll want to quit. I did.
Rolling my own was a big step.
The first step I took to stop smoking was I began rolling my own cigarettes. I refused to buy premade cigarettes. I feel this first step was one of the key steps for a variety of reasons. The first reason was fresh tobacco doesn't have as many chemicals and addictive additives that store bought cigarettes have. I started seeing all the money I was saving and liked it! And I began dreading having to roll cigarettes so I would make my cigarettes last which made me smoke less.
Know what you put in to your lungs.
I knew smoking was bad for you, but I didn't know how bad.
As a smoker, I tuned out all the negative information about smoking. I didn't want to hear about all the crap I was putting in to my body because, well put simply, I didn't want to feel uncomfortable about something I enjoyed so much and that was a part of me. I decided to find out as much information as I could about smoking and its effect on my health.
When I started researching, I was amazed at all the bad things I could find about smoking. The two best websites I found were thetruth.com and whyquit.com. (See my Top 5 Websites to Quit Smoking) The information hit home and I was shocked at how willingly I poisoned my body. When I quit smoking, I spent time on these two sites everyday to reinforce why this "friend, the cigarette" needed to leave my life and never come back.
The reasons in stone.
Before I quit smoking, I created a list. I wrote all the positives that being smoke free would offer me:
More time with Mark & Summer (I wasted so much time squeezing that smoke in before eating, showering, driving, movie, sleeping, everything)
Dad & Bear (my brother) - Both were big smokers & had quit already.
I think the list was longer than that, but it's been 5 years. I saved it and when I find it, I will put it on here for you to see. Mark put the list on the fridge and would tell me to read it whenever he thought I needed too. Sometimes it helped, others it didn't. So I would try something new. Change it if it isn't working, but don't smoke.
I'm not the only one going through this.
The cravings were unbearable and the mind games were cruel. All I could think about was smoking. Everything in my life had been around smoking. After I ate, I smoked, on the drive to work I smoked, at breaks I smoked, talking on the phone I smoked, and the list went on and on. I couldn't imagine living my life without smoking. And the worst part is I felt so alone. No one could understand what I was going through.
During day 3 of my quit one of my friends told me about quitnet.com and I was rescued. On quitnet.com you can read other peoples journals and read how they struggled, what it felt like to them, and how it was consuming. And I also read stories of success, follow up stories of people who had been a year without smoking, two years, five years and more! This site provided me a place to let me guard down.
Straws, pencils, and carrot sticks!
One of the hardest things about quitting smoking was what to do with my hands. So when I wasn't working, reading, or doing needle point, I held a straw to chew on or a pencil to flick in my hands. If all else failed, I would eat a carrot stick to occupy my mouth until a craving passed.
The Rain Comes In and Washes It Away.
The one place I didn't smoke was in the shower. So I took a lot of showers. They help soothe and release those craves.
Breathe, just breathe… and walk a little.
Some cravings just wouldn't quit. None of my tricks would work so I would have to go outside and just suck in the biggest breath of air I could manage. As I got better at mastering my cravings, I would add in a walk around the block with my deep breath. Anything to keep my mind off smoking.
Then there came a time when I had to say,
OKAY I'M SICK OF THIS!
And I would reason with myself. Who is going to win this Chris? You've got it in the bag! This is the moment when we decide who you are going to be. And it changed my life guys. You can do this...
Once I hit 3 months of smoke free status, I didn't rely on my above tricks very much. I found ways to fill the void until now I forget sometimes that I even smoked.
As I said, it's been a long time since I stopped smoking. It was a miracle that I stopped at all. It's hard. One of the hardest things I have ever done, but now I feel like I am on top of the world! That one accomplishment makes me hold my head high with pride! And you can do it too! You just need to find the right thing that works for you. It's not about getting through it without struggle or complete hell. It's about getting through it and coming out the other side a non smoker. It separates the weak from the strong. Do it!
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