How many times have you told yourself that you’ll quit someday, as you light up and/or pour another? If that sounds familiar, getting involved in Stoptober might give you the boot up the backside you need to kick your addiction for good. Research suggests that stopping something for 28 days straight makes you 5 times more likely to quit for good, and that makes it the perfect month-long challenge. But with so many horror stories about quitting smoking it’s easy to be apprehensive and kick the quitting can down the road. Hopefully my experiences will put your mind at ease and help you make it through to the smoke free other side.
For a bit of context, I had my last cigarette during the first week of the coronavirus lockdown. I’ve tried loads of times before and always failed miserably because life is stressful and I’m weak. But there’s something about a deadly virus that sweeps the world and attacks the lungs that lights a fire under you. This is how I found quitting and the things that helped me cope when things got stressful.
Quitting Smoking Diary
Day 1 – 3
There’s on piece of quitting smoking advice that is spoken like a mantra. The 3-day hump. This idea that the first three days are going to be akin to hell on earth, but once you power through the hump it’s plain sailing to a clean air paradise where you can smell and taste things again. For me the hump was more like a speed bump. I can honestly say that the first 3 days weren’t that bad. Sure, there were cravings and at times I was moodier than a 13-year old that’s had their phone taken off them, but they came and went quickly enough. I started a repeating a little mantra in my head when these cravings would flare up. I AM NOT A SMOKER, I AM NOT A SMOKER I… you get the picture. It sounds weird, but I swear it helped me.
After gliding through ‘the hump’ without any major issues I was feeling pretty good about myself. This quitting thing’s easy… said no one ever. After day 3 the cravings took offence at my nonchalance and stepped up their game. When they hit, and there didn’t seem to be any reason to them, it was all I could focus on and it felt like all the world’s problems would be solved if I had one cigarette. I was being selfish depriving the world of that.
One minute I’d be calm and the next it would feel like my skin was crawling and I was ready to mug the chavvy kids that hang around the local shop for their packets and lighters. The cravings were most strong and frequent during these days, and honestly, it was no fun at all. Being lockdown and worried about the growing Covid 19 pandemic didn’t help matters either, but any time you quit there will be something that makes it more difficult.
If you’re struggling at this point, it’s worthwhile remembering that there is loads of help out there that will boost your chances of quitting, and most of it is free. You can access the NHS Stop Smoking Services in selected Boots pharmacies to receive support from specially trained advisors and advice on the massive selection of medicines that can help you pack in the fags. According to the NHS, people who get support from the experts are four times more likely to quit and anything that boosts your odds of success can’t hurt. Life is harder than usually right now any everyone should reach out for help if they’re struggling.
Quitting Smoking: Week 2
Week 2 is when things got interesting. Somehow it manages to be simultaneously easier and harder. The cravings got more manageable and would only last around 15 minutes; they were still strong and every time I went into a shop it was a battle of wills. While the cravings get better, my lungs stepped in to pick up the punishment slack.After years of abuse it was their turn to dish some out and before they could begin healing, they had to have a clear out. The utter filth that gets coughed up is shocking and gives you some idea of what you’ve been doing to your lungs. It’s no wonder they want to hurt you back.
While this industrial clean was going on my lungs felt raw, but there are no pain receptors in the lungs. It’s likely that this was pain in the throat as the cilia start to grow back. These are tiny hairs that help move the mucus and debris away from the lungs and they’re critical for lung health. So, naturally as smokers, we killed them all.
Once I cleared the first month things got much easier. That’s what makes challenges like Stoptober so successful; the people that complete them stay of the smokes more often. It got easier for me at a month because it’s when I started feeling the benefits. That’s right, quitting smoking isn’t just cravings and coughs, at some point you’ll start to feel better. The steady stream of gunk stopped coming, I was more energetic, and my lungs felt like they opened up. One month, that’s how quick it was to feel my body start repairing itself. You won’t suddenly stop craving that relaxing goodness but feeling better gives you a push when things get tough again.
Quitting Smoking Advice
- Breath Through Cravings – think of it as mini meditations when the cravings are kicking you butt. If you focus on your breathing, you’ll take your mind of the overwhelming need to light up.
- Seek Help – It’s easy to think you can go it alone, but the fact is if you get the FREE help that is out there you’ve got more chance of quitting.
- Busy Hands – When the cravings hit, you’ll notice your fingers get fidgety. It sounds weird but picking up a silly desk toys will help beat a craving.
- No ‘Just One’ – Just one cigarette is a myth. Just one leads to, I’ll only smoke to night and I’ll only finish this pack and the next thing you know you’re out in the rain with the other lepers all over again. You can’t have any, put them down.
- Give Yourself a Break – If you do have a slip up remember that that’s all it is, a slip up. It doesn’t have to derail everything. Obviously, it’s not ideal but don’t let it get you back to 20 a day.
- Never Forget – Remember those first two weeks and ask yourself why you’d want to put yourself through all that again. It doesn’t take much to have you back coughing up a lung and itching for a smoke.
Quitting smoking is hard. Make sure you checkout our Stoptober Motivation 2020 guide for the best products and resources that are proven to help you kick the habit for good.
Good Luck, you’ve got this.