Whether you are a social smoker, a heavy smoker or you take an occasional drag – getting hooked to the habit is easy, but ditching the habit is far more difficult.
New Year is just around the corner and if you haven’t been able to live by your last year’s resolution of kicking the butt, the time to stop procrastinating and letting it go has come yet again. The resolutions often turn into daily or weekly resolutions to give up this unhealthy habit, but nothing seems to work.
For most smokers, giving up on cigarette smoking is a true test of their willpower. The nicotine in a cigarette is addictive and creates a high, this high keeps your brain in a fake sense of calm. For smokers, smoking is a habit and this habit becomes more prominent in times of stress or during social gatherings where others are also smoking. Sometimes, smokers also indulge during a commute, bathroom breaks, coffee breaks and other times when they need to feel calm.
Breaking the habit is extremely difficult as it causes the body to experience physical changes and cravings. More than physical it may also play mentally as a lot of people smoke cigarettes to gain that fake sense of calm as coping mechanism in situations like stress, depression, anxiety, or even boredom.
To effectively break the habit, it is important for one to address both the addiction and the routines associated with smoking. Here are a few tips to kick the butt along with the other effects of smoking.
Make a plan
It is important to create a successful quit smoking plan. Having a plan in place tackles both long-term and short –term challenges that are associated with smoking, especially having a relapse. Your plan needs to be according to your smoking habits. There are different approaches that can be applied to curb the urge to smoke. Most people tend to leave the habit gradually; however, those who are heavy smokers may prefer to go cold turkey as the temptation to smoke is less.
Smoking is an important cause for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as well as major risk factor for poor asthma outcomes. Smoking cessation is the best way to combat the development of COPD into a chronic situation. However, to see the full benefits of tobacco abstinence, you need a couple of years of total self-restraint. Giving up smoking and other tobacco products will help the lungs clear the tar that has accumulated over the years.
“It is essential to consciously maintain your heart rate, as the abstinence from smoking can take a toll on the body and increase the heart rate as the body is used to the fake calm provided by Nicotine. Hence, it is important to monitor your heart rate while exercising in order to keep your blood pressure level intact and not stress the cardiovascular system” said Saurabh Kulkarni, Strengthen and Conditioning coach, HEAL institute, Mumbai.
When you give up smoking the body goes through various different stages of nicotine withdrawal. Your body may feel frustrated, depressed, restless, or irritable and may give you headaches or also hunger pangs. Nicotine Replacement Therapy can help in curbing most of these feelings.
There are various types of Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) such as nicotine gum, lozenges, patches etc. NRT helps people who smoke or chew tobacco quit the habit. It reduces withdrawal symptoms including craving associated with quitting smoking.
“For me it has been an uphill battle to give up the cigarette. My sister bribed me into giving up smoking. She said that if I would break the habit then she would gift me a very expensive gift on my birthday, but the catch was that if I even smoked one, the offer would no longer stand. Nicotine gum came to my rescue and I haven’t smoked in 2 years, the urge is still there, but Nicotine Replacement Therapy helped curb the habit.” Moni Seth, 40.
Many smokers reach for the pack because the nicotine helps them relax. However, once you give up the habit, you need to find a new way to manage your stress. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to involve yourself in meditation activities, listen to relaxing music; or indulge in exercise.
Quitting smoking affects a person psychologically as well as physically. It is said that only 20 mins after not smoking, your blood pressure and pulse come back to normal. Your oxygen levels start to return to normal after 8 hours and 24 hours from quitting smoking, all the tar accumulated due to the nicotine inhalation then starts to dilute and in turn brings down the risk of heart diseases.
Smoking is an addictive habit and quitting it is definitely not a piece of cake, especially for those who have been psycho-physically addicted to it. However, it’s no herculean task either. If you plan to get over the indulgence, a pre-decided action plan and an extremely strong willpower is very important because there are going to be instances of temptation and those are the times remembering the side-effects of (smoking) can help divert your mind from the craving.