I quit smoking 8 days ago.
I didn’t suddenly wake up one morning and decide to quit or anything that dramatic. It just sort of happened. I came down with a cold last week, and I usually don’t smoke much when I’m sick, if at all. I mean, I just don’t feel the urge when I’m sick. I’ve been like that for years.
The one big difference this time was that instead of somehow finding myself taking the habit back up after getting better, I decided to see how long I could stay quit for. You know, take it one day at a time, no pressure. It’s harder than it sounds, because a large part of smoking, besides the addiction, is simple habit. You’re used to taking smoke breaks, or you have a routine where you’re just used to having a cigarette in your hand while doing something or the other. That’s usually what caused me to take it up again the last several times, force of habit.
You have to really go the extra mile to break habits. Not just the habit of smoking itself, but also the other habits and routines that you associate strongly with smoking. In the past, I wimped out and resumed smoking because I couldn’t handle the disruption to my comfortable routine. I always had an excuse–I needed to get work done on a critical project, I’m surrounded by smokers and temptation, or whatever. This time, I decided to grow a pair and tackle the whole problem like I was serious. Why? That shit’s expensive, for one thing. A pack of fags doesn’t cost a couple bucks anymore–I think they’re up to like seven bucks a pack right now. Second, it’s inconvenient, especially if you’re like me and you prefer to smoke outside. I had a prime window of opportunity to quit for good, so I hatched a plan.
First, I made the most of the fact that I don’t get urges when I’m sick. That’s important, because it helps reduce the power that the addiction holds over you. If you tough it out past the hump, past the part where you’d normally be climbing the walls and biting other people’s heads off because you need a nicotine fix, you’re halfway home. From there, it’s a matter of managing habits.
Second, I tried to break habits and shuffle around my routine. I avoided being around other smokers for a few days, I found something else to do at the moments where I normally would step outside for a cigarette, and I got used to not taking smoke breaks while working. Wasn’t easy, but a few other major life changes made it easier. Suddenly, it’s evening of day 8 and I realize I haven’t even thought about smoking.
How do I feel? Weird. I mean, it’s easy to think you’re a manly paragon of health when you haven’t had a proper frame of reference for what “healthy” really means for years. You kind of forget what feeling healthy is really like, and you don’t really notice the effects that smoking has on you. You think about the lung cancer, emphysema, or whatever, but you don’t notice the other effects creeping up on you. You don’t really notice that you get winded more easily. You don’t notice the lower energy levels. You might not even notice your performance in the sack gradually decreasing over the years.
The one word that comes to mind right now is “oxygenated.”
That’s how I feel. Oxygenated. It’s weird. I have more energy, I feel more alert. I don’t need anywhere nearly as much coffee to get through the day as I used to. I even feel a little bit smarter. I’m not going to comment on the sexual health aspects because you didn’t come here to read about my wang.
Suffice it to say that I feel better than I ever have, and I think I’ve really kicked it this time. It’ll always be a one-day-at-a-time sort of deal, yes, but I feel great about it.