I quit smoking when I was doing my volunteer work in China. At that time I was 26, meaning I was a smoker for 11 years.
Before leaving Portugal, I used to smoke a whole pack of cigarettes per day, but in China I was only smoking approximately three. Why? As a teacher I thought I should give the example, so I didn´t smoke in front of my students. But this wasn´t the first time I tried quitting. It was the third and, fortunately, the last.
I wanted to put an end to the ‘cigarette dictatorship’. I was tired of being dependent, always worried if the number of cigarettes I had at home or in my purse was enough. Oh, and the smell! The smell in my clothes, hair…Please, no! And the taste of foods: how I missed it! Of course there was also the money part, but cigarettes were so cheap in China that it didn´t make much difference back then. All these reasons were still not enough for me to quit, so what happened?
Unfortunately we tend to be more reactive than proactive and I was no exception. One day I did a reflexology session. According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine practice of reflexology, there are reflex points in our feet that represent the different organs in our body, so by applying pressure on the points we are balancing them (after coming back to Portugal I did a course about it). Well, one point was hurting me a lot, so I asked the girl which point was it and she told me: the heart. I instantly thought smoking was the reason behind it. An alarm sounded in my head: “I have to do something before I get in serious trouble.”
I didn´t quit right away. No. I started thinking about it, mentalizing myself and truly realized that there was no point to continue smoking. Besides, I was lucky because I didn´t have any friends in China who smoked. So this was just about me and my will.
I also believe that you have what it takes to quit smoking, but you need to truly want this change in your life. Of course you know smoking is bad for you, but as a smoker this seems only theory. But it is not. You just need to listen to your body (e.g., persistent cough, throat irritation, difficulty breathing after a short exercise). If you want to successfully quit smoking these are my top tips for you:
1.You need to be sure you want to quit
2. Start to reduce the amount of cigarettes you smoke per day (the idea is that you are only smoking 1-3 cigarettes/day before quitting)
3. Apply the cigarette-money into something that makes you happy
4. Avoid being with people who smoke and smoking environments as it will be easier to have a relapse
5. Limit your coffee and alcohol intake because they are smoking triggers
6. If you are worried about gaining weight, let me tell you something: I didn´t gain any. The trick is that you can´t replace cigarettes for food, especially the wrong kind such as sweets
7. This is why it is so important that you find something to occupy your mind, so you are not always thinking about smoking. In my case, I started focusing on my health and well-being and how I could improve them. Maybe you could try meditation and/or exercise
8. At the end of the meal substitute your cigarette for a tisane. I know it is not the same, of course, but you are so used to holding something in your hand that a tisane cup might do the trick!