I was 12 when I had my first cigarette. We were a bunch of school-going girls, awkwardly entering our teenage years and exploring new things in life. The forbidden nature of smoking made it all the more attractive to our rebellious natures. One cigarette was furtively passed around between four girls, each quickly inhaling and exhaling short puffs, trying desperately not to cough. Proud of this milestone crossed off the adolescent charts, we felt rather grown up.
Over the years, I’ve heard similar stories from other smokers about why they smoke. The most common answer, of course is, “Because I like it!” As someone who’s struggled not to smoke for several years and stopped successfully (with some occasional relapses), I look quite jealously at those who have never tried that fateful first cigarette and never been tempted to. Frankly, once you are hooked, it’s next to impossible to let go. Here are some tried and true “out of the box” methods to stop smoking, by yours truly.
Use Your Bad Health to Your Benefit
One easy way to stop is, of course, by falling sick. At times like these, it’s pretty much impossible to continue your habit, however much you may want to. By sick, I mean a cold, the flu or a cough, and you don’t have to snog the first germ-infested partner you can find. Chances are, if you are a smoker, your immune system has been damaged enough that you are more susceptible to germs than most. So, when you have an inbuilt bodily function that makes you feel sick when you smoke instead of giving you the instant gratification of nicotine entering you lungs, take the opportunity to stop. Certainly don’t smoke when you are sick – only the most masochistic smoker would do that. And when you do get better, remember how sick you felt whenever you want to smoke. With some practice, you will automatically associate smoking with falling sick.
Go Running/Trekking in High Altitudes
So flying to Ladakh may seem a bit extreme as a way to stop smoking, but trust me, you need to take some deep breaths when walking in thin air. The altitude in the mountains means that you just don’t get as much air in your lungs as you usually do. As a smoker, your lung capacity is much less than it is for others, so when you begin to hyperventilate at high altitudes or wheezily breathe, it gives you a great idea of how you will feel twenty years later if you continue to smoke. The same holds true if you push yourself to run a marathon or do any other strenuous activity. After a point, you need to be at your peak fitness levels. Smoking just destroys your physical capacity for excellence.
Don’t Empty out Your Ashtray…Ever
This is a great way to motivate yourself to stop smoking – and that’s exactly what you have to do all the time when you are quitting. It’s a constant battle between your addiction, your need to have just one drag and your will power. So, if you’re not one to listen to tapes and brainwash yourself, then get an open ashtray and just watch the cigarettes pile up. The sight and smell of an ashtray first thing in the morning is psychologically enough to motivate some people to quit. And you can even get a wonderful lung shaped ashtray for additional motivation. When you stop smoking, then you can throw your ashtray, with all your dead stubs, away!
There are a number of cigarette replacers readily available in the market. These work by giving you some nicotine in a manner where you are not breathing it with tar and other harmful chemicals in cigarettes. These can help you to break the habit of smoking, but you still have to battle the physical addiction to nicotine. Here’s a lowdown on the different items that can help you to stop smoking.
Nicotine Chewing Gums
These foul tasting chewing gums are so revolting to taste – it’s like chewing a minty ashtray – that it’s certainly incentive to lessen your intake. Using these is a good way to slowly wean yourself off smoking if you can’t go cold turkey. The gums come in different doses depending on how heavily you smoke. Once you replace smoking with a nicotine chewing gum, you can try to replace that with a normal, whitening gum to reverse years of damage to your stained teeth!
The patch helps to curb cravings by slowly introducing nicotine to your blood stream over a long period of time. Like nicotine chewing gum, it comes in different doses so you can slowly reduce the amount of nicotine your body needs before getting jittery. These are also popular for business travellers on long flights when they can’t smoke. A patch can double your chances of quitting!
E-cigarettes are meant to reduce the harmful effects of smoking, rather than help you stop altogether. They release steam or vapour that one inhales with added flavour and nicotine. It helps to simulate the experience of smoking, but the electronic cigarette is pretty expensive to use if you are not planning to quit altogether.
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