Tommorow, the American Cancer Society will sponsor the 38th Great American Smokeout. This is a nationwide effort to create more awareness about the dangers of smoking, to encourage smokers to set aside their smoking habit for at least 24-hours and to offer help and resources to others who are ready to break the habit.
The Coast Guard believes healthy lifestyles, for our personnel and their families, directly contributes to mission readiness and operational success. If you’re ready to break the habit, set yourself up for success with these helpful hints:
Pick a good (not perfect) day to quit. Remember that the addicted brain can come up with countless reasons to delay quitting. Be smart. Don’t try to quit in the middle of a very stressful event.
Understand that quitting is not a one-size-fits-all treatment. Symptoms vary among smokers and reasons to quit vary as well. Write down your real reason for quitting, such as for my kids, career or health.
Consider self-help books, online tools, audio and video educational materials. The American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society have numerous materials. Your employer or health plan may offer a tobacco cessation program. Your employee assistance program can also help. Your local hospital will likely have a wellness department with these materials available.
Change your daily routines. We are creatures of habit. The addicted brain takes cues from your surroundings. If you get up and have coffee and a cigarette in the same chair every morning, you will need to have your coffee somewhere else because the addicted brain will wonder what happened to the cigarette and craving will be triggered.
Get exercise. Instead of smoking after a meal take a walk with a friend or family member. This will help your sleeping as well.
Take care of yourself. Drink lots of water, eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep. If sleep problems persist after quitting, see your doctor.
Find support. Pick a team of family members and friends who care and tell them when you feel bad or are craving. Talking about your feelings lessens their power over you.
Invest in quitting. Paint the room where you smoke, clean the carpet or detail your car to get the smell of smoke out. This investment of money and time will reinforce your resolve to follow through. Some quitters put the money they save in a glass jar or fish bowl in plain view. A 2-pack-a-day smoker can save $240 in one month.
Remember to express your feelings. Quitting is a very emotional experience for most smokers. Feelings of fear, sadness, anger and grief are common. Many smokers experience significant grief and sense of loss when they quit. Cigarettes have been a reliable friend and ex-smokers frequently mourn the loss of pleasure brought on by smoking and the camaraderie they enjoyed with other smokers. Make a list of people you can talk to or do something with when you are hurting.
By Drew Edwards, MS; Mark S. Gold, MD
© 1999-2010 University of Florida McKnight Brain Institute
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breaking the habit not only contributes to long term health but can have an immediate impact on your wellbeing. Did you know …
• Within 20 minutes of quitting: Your heart rate drops to a healthier rate.
• Twelve hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal, allowing more oxygen to nourish your body.
• Two weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
• One to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce the risk of infection.
• One year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a current smoker.
• Five to 15 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker.
*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CGSUPRT is available to help you break the habit. Visit the CGSUPRT website or contact your regional health promotion manager for resources on smoking cessation.