Stoptober: Take up the challenge to stop smoking for 28 days
In October NHS Smokefree is supporting Stoptober, a campaign to encourage people to stop smoking for 28 days. Those who manage to stop smoking for this period are more likely to give up for good. Lauren Dickinson, 26, from London shares her experiences of taking part in a 28-day programme over the summer to kick the habit.
Stopping smoking has been something I have been meaning to get round to for ages. If you smoke, you might well know the drill well. January 1st not only marks the start of a new year but for the past decade it has also signaled the start of a ‘new me’. No cigarettes, eat salads, hit the gym. I usually manage to get through a couple of weeks before I am back smoking and my life is back to normal. So clichéd, it is almost a joke.
Stopping smoking has not come easily to me in the past. I have smoked since I was 16 years old and despite my several January attempts to stop I have never succeeded in sticking to it. I recently started noticing how much money I was spending though and was really shocked. At least £25 per week down the drain, with nothing really to show for it apart from a strange double life spent huddled outside the pub with some of my mates whilst the rest are inside on the best seats.
The problem for me is that a lot of my friends smoke and even when I tried to resist, the temptation was always there. I found myself reverting back to my old ways with no escape from social smoking. Having tried countless times before to stop smoking, I needed an extra push. So when I was invited to take part in a new 28-day stop smoking programme at the end of this rather miserable summer, I thought that a break to my usual routine of trying to stop and failing in January would be something to take seriously.
It has definitely not been easy quitting. I have found my mood was atrocious at times in the first week and when it came to being out with mates after work – that was when my will power was really tested. Being on the inside of the pub looking out at my friends smoking really pushed me, and to begin with I just had to avoid these situations. Going to the cinema or straight back home, instead of the usual Friday night drinks, was the only way for me to start with.
Part of my motivation for stopping smoking was wanting to finally have a go at completing some simple yet long-held goals. I have wanted to train for a half-marathon but always found running at the gym really difficult because I was short of breath and noticeably unfit. However, after just a couple of weeks of not smoking I have been able to run for much longer, my lungs feel free from toxins and I have definitely noticed that my skin is now less grey and a bit tighter. I hadn’t fully appreciated the impact cigarettes were having on me physically and aesthetically.
And so onto the other thing that has really pleased me about stopping smoking for over a month – I am genuinely not spending as much cash. I have always found myself short of money at the end of the month and stopping smoking has definitely been less stressful on my purse strings. I really took this part seriously, feeling better is all well and good but saving some money will really make me happier.
At first I avoided having loose change in my pocket, it was always the coinage that I would use to buy cigarettes so I needed to remove the temptation. I have been collecting it in a jar in my bedroom and have saved over £100 since I stopped smoking. Now that I have managed to go five weeks without smoking, I am not so anti-shrapnel but am quite enjoying seeing it pile up in my makeshift piggy bank!
Looking back over my 28 days of not smoking, it was always going to be an uphill struggle to begin with but every time I felt like smoking I just thought about my end goal: getting fit and saving money.
I think I have got this far because of the support I had behind me. It sounds cheesy but friends and family really gave me the strength to push on and battle my ciggie demons. My advice to anyone looking to stop smoking is make sure those closest to you are behind you. Letting them down when they are helping you quit does keep you focused.
I liked the way I could set myself a four-week goal and it was a bonus to feel the benefits of better lungs and a bit more cash so soon. It’s obviously not easy stopping smoking but I have proved to myself that I can do it. If you are having a go at Stoptober I really hope it goes well. Good Luck!
Tagged in: cigarette, quit smoking, smoking, Stoptober
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