Cigarettes are loaded with carcinogens, tar and carbon monoxide. Smoking reduces your red blood cell count by creating carboxyhemoglobin, thus reducing your circulation. It also decreases your lung capacity, reduces your fitness and makes it harder to perform physical tasks.
You know you have to quit, but actually quitting is hard. This is because smoking is incredibly addictive, due to the presence of the chemical, nicotine. This makes you physically dependent on the cigarettes and can lead to genuinely unpleasant symptoms if you cut them out.
There is also the psychological addiction: Smoking is often associated with breaks, leisure time, socialising and drinking alcohol. Those are all activities that have generally positive associations for our brains, so we may find ourselves reaching for the tobacco in those situations more than any others.
So How Do You Quit?
Quitting cigarettes for good is easier said than done. Most people will find themselves relapsing before 3 days, and some after a month. This is partly due to the prevalence of smoking, and the idea that “Just one won’t hurt”. Unfortunately, even if you think you’ve kicked the addiction, it will always be there, lurking.
Quitting cigarettes takes a whole lot of mental resolve, support and commitment. It can’t be done in a day, so to speak. Some people choose to elect a buddy who’s there to make sure you don’t slip. This has to be someone with a lot of patience to handle your smoking-withdrawal rage!
The thing underpinning smoking is routine. To effectively quit smoking, you have to rewire your routine. This means making different choices that aren’t smoking-related, and taking your breaks in another way.
Having a smoke is, for lots of people, associated with being outside. Try building other positive associations with the outdoors that don’t involve cigarettes. Exercise can be a great obsession for getting those sweet endorphin rushes!
The thing is though, no matter what you do, you need to stay away from the smokes if you’re trying to quit. Will power alone may not be enough, and if you fall into that category, see a doctor. There is medication you can go on if you’ve tried everything else to switch off your nicotine addiction.