Everyone knows that smoking is really really bad for you! But it can be such a hard and daunting habit to kick and it might take some people a very long time and even a few attempts to quit.
I started smoking during University. It started off more as just social smoking, but soon became a daily habit.
Well obviously I was addicted to smoking (since I smoked every day), but I also really enjoyed smoking. I loved sitting and having a cup of coffee and a cigarette, a bottle of wine never tasted as good as with a few ciggies with it. When people always said they are trying to quit smoking, I thought, O no, I don’t want to quit, I liked smoking too much.
It gave me the excuse to take “smoke breaks” while studying at University, also taking breaks while working at restaurants and a break from working in front of computer all day. It gave me something to do while sitting and waiting for a friend to arrive at a coffee shop; it kept my hands busy when I was relaxing outside in the sun. It is a form of coping with fidgetiness and ultimately dealing with stress and anxiety. (Ironically studies have shown that smoking actually increases anxiety). When I have gone through stressful times in my life, smoking was something that “calmed” me down. Just to sit in silence for a few minutes and relax with a cigarette and my thoughts.
I knew I should quit smoking, and that it was really unhealthy for me, but always pushed it to the back of my head and said I’ll do it one day. One day when I turn 30, when I have kids or when I settle down. I always had an excuse to do it later.
Around September of 2016, I had just turned 30, I decide that it was time to try and quit. I had just moved to Bangkok a few months before, and was not actually living a very healthy lifestyle. I ate out a lot and had my fair share of cocktails and wine. I decide to cut down, and ended up just smoking a few cigarettes at night after work with some drinks. This was not too bad for me, and I was able to maintain this for a while.
One day I decide I would just not smoke that night, and would just not smoke again.
On the first two days I was fine, and I thought, O wow, this is not so bad, I can do this!
On day 3, I was as sick as a dog. I was throwing up, had the worst body aches and anxiety. I felt like could not leave the house and that I was going to die. I just had to suck it up, keep it together and get myself to work. I headed to the hospital after work, where he did and EKG and took X-rays. I was not dying, but he said it is “withdrawal” from the nicotine. He prescribed me some Xanex, which I was too scared to take, but carried around in my purse as “comfort”. I did take a few of them when I got really anxious over the next 2 weeks.
In the next two months, I never had a cigarette, but it was still quite a battle and I really just wanted to smoke. Eating out and going out drinking was really hard, and after 2 months, I gave up, and started smoking again. I was very disappointed in myself, but just said it was too hard right now. And I was so scared of “quitting” again, as I didn’t want to feel so sick again.
In May 2017, I started on my own health journey, to change my lifestyle and diet. During this time I was still smoking.
Around July – August, when I was transitioning to a plant based diet, and was eating very clean and mostly whole foods, I started feeling that the one thing that I am still putting in my body, that wasn’t healthy, were the cigarettes. I had also quit drinking alcohol for a few months before. Cigarettes didn’t taste as “nice” as they did before, and I slowly started to cut down, without even noticing.
One day I just decide to not smoke that night, and braced myself for the next few days. To my surprise, I never, not once, had any withdrawal symptoms, or any further cravings for cigarettes. On September 10, 2017 I quit smoking for good. And I haven’t had a cigarette since. It was so much easier this time around, and I am so grateful for this.
I do think that my overall lifestyle change made it a lot easier for me to quit.
I had become so aware of the food, water and nutrients I was putting in my body. This made me even more aware of the not so good things I put in my body.
I am so happy that I don’t smoke anymore, and that I am free of that addiction. I am grateful for all the new things I get to add in my life, like (trying to) go for long runs, experiment with cooking and actively trying to work on my anxiety in other ways. Being able to sit by myself in a coffee shop without needing a cigarette and enjoy and actually tasting some really good red wine.
I know everyone has a different journey and story, but, if you are struggling with this, try and focus on the good things you can fuel and add to your body, and maybe you will also experience the urge and need to start cutting down and eventually quit smoking. I promise you it feels a whole lot better and healthier.