The first cigarette I’ve ever had was in the sixth grade. I was eleven years old. It was shortly after I lost both my parents and I wanted to try things that could potentially make me forget the childhood trauma of loss and grief.
My brother was a chain smoker and so was his wife – stealing a stick from their pack wasn’t so hard. I’d wait for them to fall asleep every night and I’d smoke on the balcony of our condo unit, flicking the ash towards the highway. It eventually became a regular thing. I would stop smoking for a few summer breaks, but all throughout high school and college, I became addicted to cigarettes.
Many of us, at one point in our lives, will want to quit it, no matter how hard it will be. And a study shows it could take 30 or more attempts before any success. The numbers can be daunting, but there’s nothing wrong with trying.
Choosing to drop the habit is always the first step. Just remember that your decision has to be more powerful than your will to light up a stick again. Think about the reason you want to quit – whether it’s your health or the health of others – and use that to motivate you even further.
Drop it like a hot potato
I stopped smoking the cold turkey way. I’m part of 90% of the population who tried quit smoking without external support, including medicine, therapy or professional aid. Although it worked for me, I cannot guarantee it will be the same for you. But it’s worth the try.
Call a hotline
Not many people in the Philippines know this, but we now have a hotline for those who want to quit smoking. Launched in June, the Department of Health (DOH) partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide mobile-centered support services called Quitline for Filipino smokers.
You can call 165364 or text STOPSMOKE to (29290)165364. The service offers support and guidance in all things smoking and quitting.
We usually associate smoking with other bad habits, such as drinking or binge-eating. Whatever triggers you to smoke, avoid those, too.
SmokeFree.gov says exercise can reduce your urge to smoke as well as alleviate withdrawal symptoms after quitting. Start running in your neighborhood, join a class or swim on your free days.
A new study shows the wonderful effects of meditation on the body. One of them is cutting down smoking habits by around 60%. If you don’t know how to meditate, download mindfulness apps like Headspace, Stop, Breath & Think, and Calm. Spend a few minutes daily just being at peace with your thoughts and feelings. Eventually, you’ll stop seeing smoking as a necessity.
Ask for support from your loved ones
There’s nothing more heart-warming than your family and good friends walking you through the tough journey. Tell them everything you plan to do and ask them to help you stick to your promises.
There was a time when I couldn’t get through a day without smoking at least three cigarettes. Today, it’s a different story. Although I’d still succumb to the habit occasionally, it’s no longer an addiction. I could live without them, and I’m glad I did.