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This Is What Happens When You Quit Smoking Now

This Is What Happens When You Quit Smoking Now

It’s estimated that in the U.S. up to 25% of the population 18 years of age and older actively smoke cigarettes. Scientists have identified approximately 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, with more than 50 of them known to cause various cancers. As a matter of fact, the World Health Organization, or WHO, has stated that globally one person dies every six seconds from the use of tobacco. It is estimated that one out of every two smokers will die from tobacco-related diseases, such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart attack, stroke and other illnesses.

While the effects from smoking tobacco are cumulative, it is possible to reverse the effects of smoking. Quitting smoking now greatly reduces the chances that you will experience a smoking-related disease, and could increase your lifespan significantly. Your body will begin to heal almost immediately after your last cigarette, and will continue to repair the damage in the days, weeks, months, and years after you have quit.

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What happens after you stop smoking?

  • In the 20 minutes immediately following your last cigarette, your blood pressure and pulse rate begin to return to normal and the circulation to your extremities increases, delivering much needed, oxygen-rich blood.
  • Eight hours after your last cigarette, the carbon monoxide in your system has been 100% eliminated, replaced by the oxygen your cells need to function normally.
  • 24 hours after your last cigarette, your risk of having a heart attack begins to decrease thanks to the normalization of your heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygenation.
  • 48 hours after your last cigarette, the nerve endings that have been blunted begin to reawaken and your sense of smell and taste begin to re-emerge.
  • Between two weeks and three months after your last cigarette, your circulation continues to improve and you can now breathe easier. Your lungs now produce less phlegm and your lung function has begun to improve. Your ability to participate in physical activity is greater, as shortness of breath becomes less of an issue.
  • In one to nine months after your last cigarette, you will notice a significant decrease in your smoker’s cough. Sinus congestion lessens and fatigue and shortness of breath become virtually non-existent. The tiny, hair-like structures that line the interior of your lung cavities become active once more, and your lungs are now functioning much like they did before you began smoking.
  • One year after your last cigarette, your risk of having a heart attack is less than half of that of a regular smoker.
  • Between five and 15 years after your last cigarette, you are at no more risk of having a stroke than other non-smokers.
  • 10 years after your last cigarette, your risk of developing lung cancer drops significantly. Additionally, your risk of developing other cancers, such as that of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas, significantly decreases. Although you have not smoked a cigarette in 10 years, you still have a higher risk of developing lung cancer than someone who has never smoked, but your risks are significantly decreased than if you had continued smoking.

Why is it so difficult to quit smoking?

So, with all of the negative health impacts that are known to be associated with cigarette smoking, why would we continue to smoke?

In one word: nicotine.

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Nicotine is the active ingredient in tobacco and what addicts us to smoking in the first place. It is an organic compound known as an alkaloid and can be found in the leaves of several species of plants, although the main route of consumption is through tobacco. It can also be found in the nightshade, or Solanaceae, family of plants, including tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines (eggplant) and peppers. While nicotine by itself is not carcinogenic, it does contribute to apoptosis by inhibiting UV-induced activation of cell death, a process known to interfere with your body’s ability to destroy potentially cancerous cells.

When smokers try to cut back or quit smoking, they experience withdrawal, a rather unpleasant process whereby the brain triggers a cascade of symptoms designed to drive us to consume nicotine. For most smokers, quitting cold turkey is not an option. The withdrawal process is much too unpleasant and difficult to overcome. However using a nicotine replacement therapy while withdrawing from nicotine has shown to be a successful alternative and has helped many people quit for good.

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Have you had success quitting smoking? Care to share how in the comments?

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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