Tuesday, February 19, 2008

6 Hacks to Quit Smoking Once and For All

I Quit
Originally uploaded by adrianadesigner
If you’re a smoker, how many times have you tried to kick the nasty habit of smoking only to succumb to the supposed ‘pleasures’ or ‘enjoyment’ of nicotine running through your veins? Probably more than 3 times would be a conservative estimate. I’m sure all current and ex-smokers can relate through their struggles of kicking the habit.

As an ex-smoker myself, I have tried to kick the habit for a total of 6 times. At my heaviest period of smoking after starting at the ripe age of 19 until 24, I was going through a pack every two days. Needless to say, I didn’t feel that great after feeding my lungs with cancer sticks. It was that 6th time, I decided to try something drastically different.

Being sick of the disappointment of crawling back to cigarettes as my outlet for releasing stress., whenever I felt stress coming on, I’d immediately reach for my pack of cigarettes and if I didn’t have any on me, my eyes would automatically scan for any smokers in my vicinity in order to buy a smoke off of them. I found this behaviour to be extremely problematic and disturbing, and sought after ‘extreme’ measures to address this problem. I desperately wanted to reclaim my health and fitness back.

Here are the 6 Hacks of Effectively Kicking the Smoking Habit:

1. Undertake Hypnosis sessions - Yup, you read it right. Hypnosis. While hypnosis to many sounds hokey, creepy or is brushed off as an illegitimate science, bare with me for a moment. I decided to take hypnosis sessions. As I’m a highly experimental person and I use myself as a guinea pig for anything self-improvement related. Only after determining the safety risks are nil would I recommend it to anyone else. I knew of an acquaintance of mine, Luke Chao who is a Certified Hypnotherapist and runs The Morpheus Clinic, which happened to be steps away from my school.

Apparently his claim to fame was that he successfully performed hypnotherapy on a relatively well known Porn Actress named Sydnee Steele to kick her habit of smoking. Her testimonial is still on his website. Without going into too much detail, I determined it was a safe environment and most importantly it worked after 3 sessions for me. If you can afford the upfront costs (about $80 per session for students) it will save you your health a whole lot of money as the temptations of smoking are drastically reduced. Most importantly, however, you have to WANT to quit smoking and make a commitment to yourself. If you genuinely enjoy smoking, then you’ll be hard pressed kick the habit.

2. Gradually ease into it - For the heavier smokers out there, this here's technique that helped me drastically cut down my consumption - I simply refused to buy packs of cigarettes as I know having full access wouldn't be a constructive way of kicking the habit.

Take your time and don't beat yourself up if you cave in. Expect it, as it will happen and know that it won't happen another time as it may well be a bit of a struggle to quit smoking on hypnosis or willpower alone.

Perhaps taking resorting to nicotine alternatives such as Nicorette gum or the nicotine patch will help curb your cravings so you can wean yourself off of smoking altogether. Be sure to see if these methods poses any health risks to you before deciding to choose this as an option.

For any of this to work, you need to set a timeline for yourself, let’s say quit smoking within 3 months. You need all of your progress to be clear, specific and most importantly measurable. I had the help of my old blog at the time to keep track of my progress.

If, however, you do succumb to the urge, you can buy a cigarette off someone for a dollar, and keep track of how much you’re spending through your buying ONE cigarette at a time. The amount that you spend will astound and appall you.

3. Avoid social smoking situations
- what I mean by this is that if you started smoking as a social activity, like myself, you might want to avoid these situations altogether. When your friends/colleagues invite you to join them for a smoke, politely say "No, I'm quitting smoking, I'm sure you understand where I'm coming from". No harm no foul. You didn't insult your friends/peer group and you saved yourself from falling into a situation where you're more susceptible to caving in due to peer pressure.

4. Join a quit smoking program - they’re FREE and they’re there to help and support your journey to kicking the habit and most likely they’ll have contests and prizes as an added incentive to join and follow through.

Throughout all of the province of Ontario (Canada), post-secondary institutions have what is called the “Leave the Pack Behind Program” (LTPB) which is launched at the beginning of each semester. They do regular checkups with breathalyzers that measure the amount of carbon monoxide in your breath and can detect minute traces of it to determine whether you’ve smoked or not.

I had joined this program and a won $200 tuition credit for my school, a ton of prizes and had a party for all winters just for following through on that commitment to my health. How freakin’ cool is that??

5. Get Accountability Buddies - If you don’t have a quit smoking program in your area, have Accountability Buddies. Make sure that they are super supportive of you, give you constructive feedback, will grill you if you don’t follow through and most importantly WANT you to kick the habit.

I had my friend Frank Whitestone support me through the LTPB Program, where he would check up on me regularly to see how I was doing. Having Accountability Buddies was actually one of the requirements to join, but having Accountability Buddies works equally well if you don’t have access to a similar program, where the only prize you get is your health back.. but you can't put a price on that.

6. Leverage through exercise – you can gain more leverage for your crusade towards destroying the habit of smoking by exercising regularly and working towards a specific outcome. While it certainly isn’t easy when you’re coughing and wheezing after running around for a few minutes, exercising can very well be be the final nail in the coffin to your quitting smoking.

It was my decision to train for a marathon that effectively nullified any thoughts of smoking. I took massive action and cut out anything and everything that was a detriment to my training as nothing would come between my focus and vision of crossing the finish line, healthy and smoke free. While training for a marathon may not tickle everyone’s fancy, taking up something that forces you work your lungs be it a sport or an activity – anything physical that gets your heart pumping and your lungs expanding should seal the deal in your quest to quit smoking.

As I mentioned in point 1, you have to WANT to quit smoking and give it everything you’ve got. Think about all the pain in the future you’ll have to endure when you’re suffering from lung cancer awaiting treatments in your hospital bed. If you imagine potential reality vividly as if it were REAL, I can guarantee it will scare the living daylights out of you and you’ll look at cigarettes in a different light.

Keep in mind, however, that the process to quit smoking will vary from person to person, whether you decide to take massive action to kick the habit like I did or combine any of the approaches I described above, you’ll be on your way to a much healthier future for yourself!

So to recap, the ways that you can effectively squash the habit are to:

  • Hypnosis
  • Ease yourself into it and measure your progress
  • Avoid social smoking situations
  • Quit smoking programs
  • Have accountability buddies
  • Exercise!

Let me know in the comments section of your experiences with quitting smoking. If you’re a non-smoker, share your experiences of your friends who smoke and how dealt with the situation and how you can a part of their support network!

If you learned anything or liked this article, please Digg it. I appreciate your readership :)

No comments: