Day 10

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I hope all you Stoptoberians are doing well, I managed to make it through the weekend without smoking one cigarette although I came very close to falling off the wagon more than once. I still find I get pretty touchy at times, most especially in the morning. I’ve also found that I’ll get unexpected bouts of tiredness during the day, often interwoven with an overall loss of concentration and motivation.  To help get by I’m still focusing on my self-congratulatory and (hopefully) wealthier future self, although right now he does seem a long way off.

I finally managed to have a chat with Matt, our in-house pharmacist yesterday, which was, for me, very fulfilling and insightful. I fully expected to walk away from our meeting with my head full of appropriate nicotine replacement therapies, quitting plans and the like. Instead I was imparted with some very useful, sagely wisdoms which I’ve already taken on board and find are a great help.

At the core of the whole Stoptober ethos is something almost Zen-like and pure in it’s simplicity. Before we can embark on our journey to quit we must, and this is most crucial of all, want to quit. Matt mentioned the notion of ‘thinkers’, fence-sitting smokers if you will, who toy with the idea of quitting. Often for this group of smokers engaging in total abstinence is a set up for failure. I think it’s fairly safe to say that generally smokers enjoy smoking, despite being fully aware of the health risks. Thinkers might do better to engage in reducing their cigarette intake, or delay approaching the whole quitting game until they can honestly say to themselves that they are ready to do so. I feel I need to digress here to say that despite going against the whole Stoptober message, cutting down on smoking is still a good thing.

So we’ve soul searched and we’ve optimistically confirmed within ourselves that we’re ready to quit, what now? Well, I suggest here embracing a second truth, that quitting smoking is a massively life changing event. In removing such a previously ever-present activity from our lives we not only have to deal with the withdrawal. Smoking inhibits the bodies ability to use food efficiently, quitting smokers therefore may well notice their weight going up despite apparently eating the same amount. Not smoking will also afford you more time, it’s important to now have a new focus to fill this time. In this sense our journey to quitting is more about a change to our life style as it is to our health.

Matt suggested a good approach here is to make two lists. The first is a list of the reasons why you want to quit, this should be fairly straightforward for all of us. The second list should contain all the reasons why you smoke. With your second, exhaustive list, set out to identify the triggers that send you reaching for the fags and clearly outline what you’re going to do instead.

Applying this methodology to my own life I instantly face the void left by the loss of the workaday fag break. In many ways smokers exclusively enjoy this last workplace ‘freedom’,  a legitimate reason to walk out of the building. In the past when I’ve been on the quitting-train, work, after the pub, has been the most likely place where I’ve crashed out and gone back to smoking. Particularly stressful work loads, pompous ego-fuelled office politics and self-rewarding for a job well done, all act as triggers.

I’ve taken on board the idea that quitting smoking is about a total life change and in the interest of bettering myself, if I’m confronted by a smoking trigger I deliberately take 5 minutes or so to read something. I have books with me and the internet at my disposal. Having read something I’ve not only avoided the urge to smoke but have also got the brain cells going.

If my willpower is pushed to it’s absolute limit then I have smoking alternatives to hand. I’d like to spend more time on the subject of nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) and so will do another diary post next week on this.

Other than NRT, the recommendations from Matt were to try hypnotherapy or just plain old willpower. It’s very affirming to hear the latter from a pharmacy professional. Whenever I’ve given up in the past it’s always been under my own steam. I believe that the person in charge of you is you, I’ve never got on with people who can’t admit responsibility for their own actions. In short, it’s you that’s been stupid enough to go and get hooked on cigarettes and it’s you only that can stop it.

So fellow Stoptoberians, be strong, be resolute,  be truthful to yourself, keep yourself focused and active, exercise your strength of will and above all DO NOT SMOKE!

Good luck, keep it up, I sincerely hope that next time I post about Stoptober that neither you or I will have smoked again.

Steve

Express Chemist

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