Happy New Year! While I never really make New Year’s Resolutions, this year I have vowed to eliminate clutter in my life. By doing so I hope to get more room in the brain for the creative process. In addition to looking forward, I tend to look back – to briefly assess any accomplishments.
This year, my major accomplishment has been to remain a non-smoker. Quitting the habit was something I’d wanted to do for many years. With the exception of quitting for the pregnancy and nursing of my first born, I had been a regular smoker for nearly 25 years with a habit of 1/2 to 1 pack a day depending. How did I do it – and while married to a smoker?
I began by feeling bogged down by the addiction. Yes, you have to tell yourself you hate it and do so over and over again. After you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve had enough of the addiction, go to your doctor for help. My doctor gave me a prescription to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. And while I received this prescription in September of 07, I didn’t start the program because I was taking another medication for a different problem. I waited until I had finished those meds before filling the prescription. Being able to focus on taking only one medication was helpful for me.
What were the meds like? For me, I felt extremely angry all the time. I felt like yelling all the time – and I was yelling alot more than usual. I don’t know for sure if it was the meds or the fact that I was angry for denying myself something my body wanted. Thankfully, it went away after I stopped taking them 2 months later. In addition to taking the meds, to keep from smoking I used a few other tricks.
1) Change your routine. This is really important because it’s a distraction. If you can switch the order in which you do things, it really helps.
2) Identify your triggers. Once you identify your triggers, stay away from them as much as possible. Bars, parties and alchohol were off limits for a while. I still had to drive though so I would distract myself with the radio – singing – lots of singing. Some people hold things like a pen or pencil.
3) Take deep breaths. A friend once told me that smoking was the body’s way of telling you it wants you to breathe. When I felt like smoking I would take a few deep breaths – I think getting the oxygen to the brain probably helped.
4) Prepare yourself mentally – you will be taunted by cigarettes for a long time. I’d drive by the gas station and see ads for cigarettes – ouch. I’d go to a movie and they would be either smoking on the screen or I’d have to walk thru cigarette smoke to get to my car. Eventually, the smell of cigarette smoke became disgusting and that helped but until then you need to find a way to deal with the temptation.
5) Tell yourself and others that you don’t smoke anymore. This was probably the key to my being able to quit. Whenever I was tempted to “light up”, I’d tell myself “I’m a non-smoker now.” The power of the spoken word (or thought).
What has been the most challenging? I used to associate the creative process with smoking. Meaning, when I’d get stumped about a design or needed inspiration, I’d go have a smoke. I won’t belittle that process because I realize for some, the opportunity to break with a smoke yields results. But I will say that by recognizing the smoke break as JUST A BREAK, I was able to eventually get past it.
Even tho I quit over 1 year ago, I still take it 1 day at a time. Sometimes I still say it – “I’m a non-smoker now.” It’s important to accept that you’re human and the possibility of faltering is there and that if it happens, it’s ok.
Have a Happy and Healthy 2009!