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How I Quit Smoking. For Good.

How I Quit Smoking. For Good.

If you’ve struggled to kick the smoking habit, here’s something you probably didn’t know: nicotine may be more addictive than heroin. On top of that, research shows that cigarette companies have figured out how to deliver higher doses of nicotine to your body more efficiently than ever before. The amount of nicotine in the average cigarette increased 15 percent between 1999 and 2011.

Despite this bleak news, you can quit smoking. Here are the lessons I learned when I tried to quit, and how you can quit too.

My Story

I had my first cigarette when I was in second grade. That’s no typo. My buddy stole some smokes from his mom, and my two 8-year-old friends and I took a few puffs in a park near our house. I remember coughing a lot and feeling dizzy.

I started smoking regularly during high school. First it was just a smoke or two on the weekends; then it grew into a pack-a-day habit. I continued to smoke all through college. After I graduated I decided to quit.

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I started by cutting back. I got down to 4–5 cigarettes a day, but weekends killed me. I’d go out drinking and end up smoking a pack in a night.

Then I decided I’d stop smoking during the week. This wasn’t that hard for me because I lived with my parents at the time, and I didn’t smoke at their house—mainly because I told them I quit and was embarrassed to admit I failed. But again, weekends were my downfall and I’d blow through several packs.

During my next attempt, I decided to go smokeless: I started chewing tobacco. This strategy worked for a while, and I was able to go a few weeks without smoking. But after a trip to the dentist revealed the damage dipping was doing to my gums, I stopped. Back to square one.

It was around this time I met the girl who I would eventually marry. I didn’t like smoking around her because I knew it bothered her.

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By this time I had attempted to quit six times. I kept making the same mistakes. I told myself the seventh would be the last.

How I Finally Quit Smoking

For some people, the patch works. For others, a prescription pill like Chantix. For me, it was cold turkey. I picked a day about two weeks down the road and told myself, “This is the day I will quit smoking for good.”

And that’s what I did.

I quit smoking on a random day in May 2008. I haven’t had one since.

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The first week was tortuous. I had withdrawal symptoms (sweats, trouble sleeping, weight gain, etc.). But I got through it. The second week was hard too, but a little easier than the first. And each successive week got easier and easier.

Top 3 Lessons Learned

1. Don’t be afraid to fail.

Through all this, I realized something: failure was an essential part of the quitting process for me. If you’ve tried to quit and failed, you’re ahead of most people. It took me seven attempts to quit smoking. It was hard as hell, both physically and mentally. Keep trying. If you’ve tried and failed, you’re on the right path.

2. Know your reason why.

During my previous six attempts, I was trying to quit smoking for myself. When my girlfriend/future wife entered the picture, I had another compelling reason to quit. I realized that it wasn’t all about me; others were depending on me. Think about your parents, your spouse, your kids—it’s not just about you.

3. Embrace other healthy habits.

While I was attempting to quit smoking, I started eating better and working out again. Healthy habits lead to other healthy habits, so if you’re looking to quit, get in the habit of exercising and eating healthy, and quitting smoking will be much easier. And, you’ll be better prepared to control the weight gain that comes with quitting smoking.

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After I quit, I started my first online business, a health and wellness website called The Healthy Eating Guide. I’m about to launch another. Quitting smoking will lead to a chain reaction of healthier behaviors that lead to amazing changes in your life. Take it one day at a time, and experiment with different methods. Resilience always wins, and you’ll come out a much stronger person from having gone through the arduous journey of quitting smoking.

Featured photo credit: massimo ankor via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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