On a gloomy afternoon in the summer between 9th and 10th grade, I smoked my first cigarette. My hands were shaking with anticipation as I placed the filter between my lips. I was alone, so it took a while, but I finally struck a match to light the Carlton I swiped from a friend’s mom. My lungs burned, but I felt exhilarated by the nicotine, and the badassery of it all.
Cut to 10 years and countless bouts of bronchitis later, I had so much trouble breathing, I decided to drop the habit once and for all. I didn’t need convincing—the health risks, financial toll, and environmental factors were reasons enough. And yet, it took some work for me to adjust to a life without yosi breaks. Thankfully, with determination and a little help, I’ve been smoke-free for over five years. And since then, I have more energy, I pay lower health insurance premiums, and I’m no longer guilty of littering (sorry for my rude younger self, Mother Nature).
If you need motivation to finally dump those good-for-nothing cigarettes, here’s where you can start:
Physical activity reduces nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Additional rewards include better stamina, feel-good endorphins, and immediate lowered risk for heart attacks, cancer, and stroke.
You’re constantly on your phone anyway, so you might as well make it your biggest cheerleader. Apps like Smoke Free help stave off temptation by reminding you how much money you’ve saved, and describing the ways in which your body is regenerating. If you need something more tailored, Livestrong’s MyQuit Coach allows you to choose your method of quitting, whether it’s cold turkey or a step-down approach.
Smoke Free. Available for free in iOS and Android. For more information, visit their website.
Livestrong’s MyQuit Coach. Available for free in iOS and Android. For more information, visit their website.
Celebs like Matt Damon and Drew Barrymore have ditched their long-term relationships with cigarettes through hypnosis. Matt sat through three “mind-altering” sessions when he found out that smoking reduces fertility. His reaction to hypnotherapy: “It’s amazing, I didn’t even want cigarettes anymore.” Locally, the Manila Clinical Hypnotherapy might be worth the shot.
A patch, gum, and/or e-cigarettes can give you that nicotine buzz sans the harmful tobacco smoke. If you want a no-fuss approach, the patch may work for you. If you need to keep your mouth busy, chewing gum could also be helpful. And if you want to simulate the act of smoking, e-cigs would be a good choice. Of course, these are “smoking cessation aids,” meaning they’re meant to gently usher you into a nicotine-free life—not replace your addiction to cigarettes with a new addiction. Your best bet is to combine this approach with another.
Fruits and veggies
Some smokers fear gaining weight after quitting, and so they’ll go on a restrictive diet. But stress from hunger could cause you to light up. Instead of lessening your food intake, eat more fruits and vegetables. They’re packed with nutrients that boost your health, and, according to a Duke University study, they make cigarettes taste awful. Bonus tip: the same study states that coffee, meat, and alcohol make cigarettes taste better—so you might want to avoid those while quitting.
Friends with benefits
Do it with a buddy. Research shows that people who quit smoking within a community are far more likely to succeed than those who do it solo. Plus, you’ll probably end up being better friends for sticking by each other through the very real struggle.
There are a few FDA-approved prescriptions that are geared towards cigarette-free living. Varenicline (sold as Champix in the Philippines) inhibits the pleasure a smoker gets from nicotine, while Bupropion reduces withdrawal symptoms. As with all medication, please consult with your doctor first. A few of the most common side effects of both meds include anxiety, shaking, or trouble sleeping. Immediate consultation is needed if any of these side effects occur after consumption.
If you tend to smoke during moments of tension, it’s time to manage stress in a healthier way. The London School of Medicine and Dentistry found that smoking actually increases stress levels. So instead of exacerbating the situation: get a massage, drink soothing tea, listen to calm music, or simply avoid negative people and situations—the point is to encourage and enjoy yourself. After all, quitting smoking doesn’t have to be completely miserable.
Art by Dorothy Guya