Currently, approximately 17.3 million Filipinos over the age of 15 are tobacco users. Around half the males in the country light up regularly, while women are less likely to pick up the habit, with only 9% of female adults admitting to being regular smokers.
Since there is overwhelming evidence that smoking is bad for your health and It even endangers the health of the people around you it’s always a good idea to kick the habit, but it’s never easy.
If you’re seriously considering quitting smoking then stop waiting and give the following tips a try.
Why is it so hard to quit smoking?
If you’ve ever tried to quit and failed, you’re in good company. Over 70% of regular smokers say they want to quit, and 40% of smokers make the attempt (or at least the verbal commitment) to quit annually, but only a small portion accomplish it.
It’s estimated that some smokers may make multiple attempts at quitting, and the average person attempts to quit smoking 30 times in their lifetime.
That’s a pretty high number, but not everyone has the same success rate. Some have an easier time turning away from cigarettes, while others need a few more tries to finally ditch them.
Why are cigarettes so addictive? It’s not just a matter of willpower or motivation, but a case of honest-to-goodness substance dependence. People become hooked on nicotine, a regulated but completely legal substance found in the tobacco in cigars and cigarettes.
Highly addictive and quick-acting, nicotine is easily metabolized and has mood-elevating properties, relieving stress and making you feel more relaxed. It’s only temporary, though. Nicotine also leaves the body relatively quickly, making you crave another hit after as little as 30 minutes later.
Why quit, anyway?
You may be asking, “If it’s so hard, why do people make such an effort to eliminate smoking from their lives anyway?”
The best answer is because smoking may be slowly killing you. There’s no denying statistics and facts – that the risk of developing oral cancers are almost zero for non-smokers; that smoking is a primary factor in the development of emphysema, lung, and throat cancer; and that it has been linked to countless other conditions including blood and cervical cancers, infertility, erectile dysfunction, heart disease, bad skin and teeth, and bronchitis.
In the Philippines alone, it is estimated that there are 10 smoking-related deaths every hour.
Quitting has several benefits, and that’s on top of extending your lifespan. It’s better for your appearance, for one, with your skin and teeth most noticeably benefiting from your winning the battle against the cancer sticks.
You also experience the world differently – your sense of smell and taste are greatly improved, your cardiovascular health recovers in leaps and bounds, and your vision improves. If you’ve been having some trouble in the bedroom, that could potentially be improved as well.
Besides, soon, we may be experiencing the dawn of a smoke-free Philippines. Isn’t it better to get a head start and make the attempt now instead of be forced to do so a little further down the road?
What can you do to make the process easier?
If you’re looking to quit, whether this is your first or fortieth attempt, there is help to be had. There are simple steps to take to make it easier, and make the transition from smoker to smoke-free much less painless.
1. Plan your journey
If you know your goal, you can navigate towards it better. A plan keeps you focused, allowing you to use your energy more efficiently.
It helps to have your plan displayed somewhere you can see it easily throughout the day. There aren’t any hard and fast rules to this, but seeing things in black and white make it seem more real and more doable.
List down everything you feel would be helpful, such as smoking helplines, your doctor or therapist’s number, activities you want to start once you are breathing better, anything. Keep a journal if you must, something to refer back to when things get hard.
2. Let everyone know what you’re trying to do
Let everyone close to you know you’re trying to quit, especially those you used to hang out with during smoking breaks.
Doing so will ensure that someone will call you out when you fall off the wagon, and help you keep your promise to yourself.
Beware of the people who will seek to sabotage your goals by inviting you for a smoke or trivializing your efforts. You may want to steer clear of these people in the first couple of months when you’re still building up your willpower reserves and fighting off the cravings.
3. Find your trigger
Knowing what makes you smoke or why you need it in the first place makes it a lot easier to beat the habit. Do you smoke when you’re stressed? Then plan to have something pleasurable to do after a potentially stressful activity or day.
Find other ways to deal with stress, such as calling a friend and talking it out, exercising, or using meditation or stress balls. You can even have a sweet treat or a drink, but be careful- those have the potential to become an addiction themselves. If you know that you have a personality that may be vulnerable to addiction, steer clear. You may end up replacing one habit with another.
4. Find a reason
It’s well and good to do this simply because you are doing it for your health, but sadly, avoiding getting sick may prove to be too weak of a motivation to break your cycle. Instead, focus on the positive. For example, focus on the final, positive goal.
Picture how great you will feel when you’re smoke-free, or how you can hold your children without exposing them to toxins, or how amazing it would be to enter that marathon you’ve alway wanted run.
A lot of people find it much easier to quit when they have children. Doing it for the sake of family and loved ones makes the sacrifice easier to bear and ultimately benefits the family as a whole.
Pregnant mothers and their partners, in particular, are strongly encouraged to stop smoking because of the potentially terrible consequences for the fetus.
5. Rethink your social breaks
Keeping yourself from temptation is key. If your breaks at work always involve going out for a smoke, you may want to find other ways to bond with your smoking buddies instead.
6. Avoid places and activities that you usually associate with smoking
If you usually smoke while drinking, you’re going to have to give the latter up with the former until you’re sure you can handle the temptation. Statistics show that up to 50% of smokers attempting to kick the habit relapse while drinking alcohol, which is no surprise, considering that alcohol’s prime directive is to lower your inhibitions, impair your judgement, and knock your impulse control down a few notches.
That means no hanging out at bars with friends, no after-dinner drinks on dates (consider walking them home instead, or coffee), and no wine-tasting events.
7. Keep busy
There’s something to the old saying about idle hands and idle minds. If you can find yourself more immersed in work, that’s great, but maybe finding a hobby that makes you happy and allows you to have a bit of fun will help keep your mind off your craving better.
Try to keep active as much as you can. This may be a great time to take up a fitness activity, especially since your lungs will be recovering.
8. Seek professional help
Sometimes you need a little extra assistance, and there is no shame in going to a trained professional. If anything, it greatly increases your chance of success. Visit your hospital of choice to check out if their wellness initiatives include a smoking cessation program and sign up for safe, clinically regulated ways to quit smoking once and for all.
9. Be optimistic
This may be last on our list of tips, but we want to strongly impress that this is one of the most important things you can do when trying to quit. Expect that you will succeed, and you most likely will.
If things go south and you fall of the wagon, cling to your optimism. Sure, you may have tripped up, but you're not licked yet. You can keep trying for as many times as it takes until you finally reach your goal.
Trying to eliminate smoking from your list of activities this holiday season? You’re not alone. We found a few easy tips to help you get smoke-free.
It’s not going to be easy- 70% of smokers try to quit annually, but only a much smaller percentage manage to actually kick the habit. How come? Nicotine, a main chemical component present in cigarettes, is heavily addictive, and weaning yourself off it can be a battle.
You can do a lot of things to make the transition easier and bolster your willpower. Start with a plan, always keep your mind on what you’re doing it for, and don’t be too proud to ask for help when you need it. These and a couple more tips will ensure that you’re breathing easier in no time.
Lastly, if you want to keep your mind off of smoking treat yourself to something healthy from one of the thousands of health & wellness businesses in MyZenda.