As a kid, I considered smoking cigarettes cool, something that only adults could do. My whole family smoked, so I thought it was something normal, and not bad for my health. Maybe that’s why I started when I was thirteen. I wanted to feel grown-up.
And I smoked for sixteen years.
Then, two and a half years ago I was experiencing one of the lowest points in my life, so I started to smoke more. I remember my anxiety woke me up in the middle of the night. My reaction was to light a cigarette to feel calmer and find peace.
Did smoking solve any of my problems or give me some relief? Obviously, not. Over time, it even exacerbated my anxiety.
However, during that period, I started to feel particularly aware of how harmful smoking could be for my body. Maybe because I started to have heart palpitations. Or because I saw a different person when I looked in the mirror. Or maybe, as stupid as it may sound, because I saw my first wrinkles.
Whatever the reason, what I know for sure is that I started to realize how bad it was affecting my mind and body. But, I couldn’t even think of quitting, it seemed impossible for me. Anytime I felt worried or nervous, I smoked to find peace. And anytime I was happy, I needed tobacco to celebrate. There was always a good excuse to smoke.
After that difficult period of my life — and after a break-up that ended it — I started to slowly feel better. One day, I decided to try at least to reduce the number of cigarettes I was smoking daily. So I reduced from an average of fifteen daily cigarettes to just one.
For a few days, I kept smoking one cigarette, and I didn’t feel the need to smoke more. Then, I tried to reduce from one cigarette per day to one every other day.
After a week, on my birthday, I realized I had a packet with nine cigarettes left. So I thought: “When I run out of cigarettes, I won’t buy another packet. This is the last packet of my life.”
And I kept the promise. That was the last packet of my life. And not buying another packet was the best birthday present I could give to myself. After sixteen years, I quitted smoking. It still seems impossible to me, as my addiction was strong, and I was convinced I would have never been able to quit.
So seeing I was capable of stopping was also a powerful boost to my self-esteem.
It’s been two years and two months already. And I haven’t even touched a cigarette since the day I quit.
What I can tell you for sure is that, if I was able to do it, you can too. You can try the same method I used, and if it doesn’t work the first time, it’s ok. Just try it again and again. Also, don’t try to quit during tough times. Take advantage of good times instead. It’s better to quit when you feel mentally and emotionally stronger, as it’s easier to overcome the nicotine cravings.
I have to admit that during the first few weeks, it was hard to resist the urge to smoke. Fortunately, two things helped me a lot.
Choosing a healthy habit
I replaced my addiction with a healthy and pleasant habit. The cigarette I was most addicted to was the one I smoked at night, before going to bed. So I replaced it with a healthy daily ritual.
Every night, I started to drink a relaxing herbal tea while reading a good book. And it became my new healthy night routine. Now, for me there’s nothing better than getting cozy with a warm cup of tea and something great to read. Especially in the winter.
Keeping track of the smoke-free days
The second thing that helped me was to keep track of the smoke-free days. During the first months, I had a calendar on my wall, where I put a big mark over the days I didn’t smoke.
Something as simple as that made me feel good about myself every night and made it easier for me to be persistent. It was a way of patting myself on the back.
Quitting is definitely possible, even for people who started in their teens and have smoked for decades. If you are a smoker, I know how you feel. I know it’s hard, but I also know you can quit if you want to. As all ex-smokers, I’m living proof that quitting smoking is possible. As Jim Rohn said:
Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.
What to keep in mind after you quit
Your body and mind are your most valuable assets.
Remember that consistently loving and taking care of yourself gives you the fuel you need to be at your best every day. This means not only eating super healthy unprocessed foods, drinking water, and working out — which is essential — but also keeping your health in check and making it your number one priority.
Build healthy habits such as taking long walks, meditating in the morning and at night, practicing yoga, trying the HIIT training and avoiding taking the bus when you can walk to places. Spend time with your loved ones, travel when you can, enjoy some good music to relax.
Another thing you can do is talking to your dermatologist and try to see if there are some healthy skin treatments for you, in case your skin is damaged or aged faster after the years you have been smoking.
I tried laser therapy, radiofrequency and peelings. All these treatments work wonders - if performed by a professional with experience.
Wellness is the first step to real success. If you don’t take care of yourself, who else will? When you treat yourself as your first priority you can become unstoppable and achieve virtually anything you want.
Practice self-care, be your number one priority.
Love yourself every single day.