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  • Writer's pictureMarianne Cooper-vd Veen

Quit Smoking Or Die Trying

Quit smoking or die trying

Whatever your reason(s) may be that you are reading this article, I'd like to give you a heads up in advance. Every step you take is a step, so this one counts too! ;-) Maybe you want to quit smoking yourself, maybe you know someone who you would like to see living a smoke-free life. Maybe you've tried several things already, maybe you even succeeded for a while. Maybe a loved one is in that position and you don't know what to do. Well let me tell you this. I don't have all the answers because everyone is different. What worked for me might work for you but there's a chance it won't. So I'm not going to talk you into anything and I don't have the illusion that this article will make you quit. But I do have hopes that this is the feather that breaks the camels back for at least one person. I'm just going to give you something to think about and the rest is up to you.

I've smoked cigarettes for about 18 years myself, so I know how goooooood it can be to have a cigarette and how hard it is to quit. I definitely don't love my non-smoking family members and friends more than the smokers around me. In fact, up to this day I can still enjoy the smell of a burning cigarette. I always joked around that I smoked to keep the economy going, since the country I'm in (The Netherlands) would go bankrupt if we all would quit smoking. This is because of the major amount of taxes the government collects for every sold pack of cigarettes. Quitting seems so easy when you look at advertisements but in real life it's not as easy as it may seem. I've tried nicotine patches but they gave me heart palpitations, nicotine tablets but they gave me instant sores in my mouth and I tried an e-smoker but that didn't do the trick for me either. I've read two books, Allen Carr's famous “Easy way to stop smoking” and “Nederland stopt met roken” (the Netherlands quits smoking) by Pauline Dekker and Wanda de Kanter, who are both pulmonologists (lung doctors). I must say both books are good reads and bring your mind closer to that point of no return (lol). That's the whole thing. Getting your mind set on quitting. Everything you try brings you closer to your goal. Even if you fail, it's about getting back at it. Don't feel bad about yourself. Changing a habit doesn't happen over night especially when you've had the habit for years. Every cigarette you don't smoke is one less than you would have had.

So what did work for me? Well, it was more about a complete shift in my life than 'just' quitting a habit. I had been in therapy because of some childhood traumas and was using anti depressants. Not only was I working on processing my past, I was also taking a closer look at my life, what makes me happy, and what is good for me. This was not something that happened over night. We are talking about an ongoing process and the baseline of it all was being able to see that I had to learn to love myself enough that I only wanted the best for me. I started to exercise and eat healthier. At the time, I saw smoking as something to treat myself with when I was happy, something to literally blow off steam with when I was upset, or something to kill time. Need I say more? There's always a good reason to smoke when you're a smoker. Then I went on a trip with my husband to the USA to visit family. He's not really a cigarette smoker but because I smoked he joined me every now and then. We saw it as a moment of spending time together, a break from whatever we were doing. Anyway. I went back to the Netherlands before my husband because of work and study reasons. I already had a slight cold but after 16 hours in an airplane I developed a throat, ear, and sinus infection. On top of the jet lag you can imagine it wasn't that pleasant (at all). With that being said, I believe the combination of doing the 'internal work' and working on my life, reading the books, all the other attempts to quit smoking, the anti depressants I was on at the time, the fact that my husband was not home (which broke our habit), and the fact that I was sick made it all a perfect setting to quit. Besides all that I was having trouble with some people in my life and I did not want to give them the 'satisfaction' of me going back to smoking. So “Thanks guys! Props for that.”

Anyway... because I'm me and you're you the chance that you'll be in the exact same circumstances is very small. Everyone has their own reasons. Whether it's about health, finances, beauty, or maybe even social pressure, take your pick there's plenty to choose from ;-) If that is still hard for you, here are some thoughts and tips for you to consider!

  • Have you ever opened up your kitchen sink cabinet and thought 'hey, what if I put a little ammonia from my household cleaner, arsenic acid from the rat poison, benzene of the rubber cement, butane of my lighter fluid, cadmium of my battery acid and toluene of the paint all together, set it on fire and then inhale it really deep?' No? OK. Well you're doing it on a daily basis since all these ingredients and so much more are in your cigarette. Of course all are glossed over by things that taste good, like sugar, honey, vanilla, chocolate, liquorice and mint. Yumm!! So the fact that you say smoking is good is not so weird at all. Because the factories do everything they can to mess with your brain. The trick is played on you on a daily basis and it's about time to get mad about it.

  • Are you the type of person that doesn't like to be told what to do? And especially not by the government? No? OK. Well you're doing it daily, since that little stick tells you that you need it and the government is happy to receive your taxes on them. Yaay!You're the most obedient person ever :-P

  • Nowadays our government is trying to change things around. It started with a smoke ban in restaurants, bars, and also offices. The price of cigarettes go up tremendously every year. And now, in my city Groningen, a new policy has started which forbids people to smoke in front of hospital entrances and playgrounds. The first responses to it were tons of angry people, saying the government is telling them where to smoke and that it's ridiculous they are interfering in their lives this much. I'd like to refer back to the previous bullet points. You're being played by the government and cigarette factories as a rule. So in my opinion the fact that they're trying to reverse it actually shows how big their responsibility is. The government, who in my opinion is partly responsible for your addiction, is actually trying to get you off of it instead of encouraging you. Revenue losses versus your health, which they didn't give a damn about before. Times change, eyes are opening and the time we actually should believe it's only our fault that we're addicted is over. The media and our peers made it seem cool but the factories and government kept you hooked. That's how I see it.

  • When you're sick you're probably most likely to think about your deeds and understand that these cigarettes don't add anything to your health, let alone to your recovery. Your body is working hard to get better and the cigarettes are working hard to break down all the efforts by destroying the vitamins and minerals you have in your system. There's literally no part in a cigarette that adds any value to your health. But once you feel better, you don't feel the instant necessity to quit anymore. If you're lucky and have a strong immune system you might not even notice any consequences of your smoking until you're much older. There will always be small warning signs, it's up to you if you listen to it or not.

  • It sounds obvious but it really helps when you get moving and eat (more) fruits and veggies!!

  • The physical part of detoxing can be hard, but I believe that the mental part is much harder. After one day the carbon monoxide is out of your body. After two days the nicotine is gone. But then the real challenge starts. How are you going to deal with your emotions? Smoking is connected to all of your feelings. Happy? Let's celebrate with a cigarette! Sad? Let's comfort myself with a cigarette. Frustrated? Bored? Seeking for something to reward yourself with? Remind yourself that nothing in this world can be so good or bad that you deserve to inhale toxins. Nothing! So, figure out what it is that you need for each emotion you may have, and what will help you distract you from the urge to light up a cigarette. Is it a walk around the block? Talk to a friend? A hot shower? A lollipop? Some mindfulness or yoga? Or a piece of chocolate? New shoes? Brush your teeth? Listen to music? Anything... I mean anything is better than to smoke another cigarette. So make sure you have a plan that fits you. Remind yourself it is the habit trying to pull you back but you're stronger than that! I also used an app on my phone that calculated how many cigarettes I had not smoked and how much money I had saved by not smoking them. It also showed when the carbon monoxide and nicotine were out of my system. On top of that, when my body started 'cleaning up' my system, and more. It helped to read the progress that I was making, besides noticing it myself.

  • It helped me to feel as fresh as possible. I cleaned the whole house, threw away everything that had to do with smoking, took steam baths (all you need is a bowl of hot water and a towel to put over your head) to clear my sinuses, I drank tea with lemon and honey to clean my inner system, I got myself some nice body lotion and cremes, well-groomed nails, a new hairdo and clothes, sauna baths, you name it and I did it. And it felt good!

  • I tried to pick a date, or told myself “Today I can have 10, tomorrow 9, the day after tomorrow 8 and so on until I quit.” That didn't work. When you are convinced it's not for you anymore, there's no better moment than NOW. No thoughts, prayers or goodbyes. That thing that you saw as a friend wasn't a friend at all. So what do we do with toxic people who treat us badly? Exactly. We put them out with the trash.

  • Know your triggers and avoid them for a while. So if that means no coffee, no alcohol or not meeting up with certain people for a while, do it.

  • Don't get mad if someone around you tries to quit and doesn't succeed (at first). It's an ongoing process. Waking up emotions like anger or sadness makes people want to smoke even more. For the smoker it might even be a good idea to not tell anyone yet until you're absolutely sure you're not smoking anymore. Peer pressure can feel like support but it can also put so much pressure on you that you're doomed to fail. Pick what fits you!

  • I am not familiar with acupuncture, hypnosis or medicines like Champix but some people do benefit from it so it might be worth looking into. Last but not least: give yourself a break!! You are a winner when you quit, and you are about to be one if you failed but are trying again.

If you haven't smoked while reading this article, good for you!! If you did, don't worry. Your time to quit is coming! You got this.


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