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The other day I was sitting with a cup of coffee and a blueberry scone and my thoughts turned to this question: "What am I doing to protect my quit?" "Am I protecting my quit?" Like most ex-smokers with long quits will oftentimes say, I rarely think about smoking and when I do, it's a fleeting thought, a gentle reminder of my why I can never allow myself to smoke. But I asked myself, how am I protecting my quit? I pragmatically thought about this as if my life depended on it. As I went over the ways I protect my quit there was one specific mindset that blew everything else out-of-the-water; a concept for which all other means to stay quit fall under. I am a nicotine addict. Accepting that I was an addict early in my quit was the deciding factor if I was indeed going to not ever take another puff. Once you treat this as a drug addiction and accept it, the ways in which you stay quit are rank and file. In less than two minutes my brain was resounding with an unrelenting YES, I am protecting my quit. I think I'll ask myself this from time-to-time just to make sure I'm not getting complacent and keep my ego in check with reality. :) Are you protecting your quit?
I don't really want to call them cravings, because they're nothing like the first week at all. At almost a month in, they're more like thoughts, along the lines of "I could REALLY go for a piece of chocolate cake right now." But if you don't have chocolate cake on hand, it's not a big deal. You forget about it quickly and move on. And since that day recently where I caught myself not thinking about smoking, I have longer and longer stretches of time where I don't think about it at all. But, out of the blue, these nagging thoughts of wanting a smoke pop into my brain. Had a pretty strong one last night at a point where it was probably about the most ridiculous thing I could have done. One of my current projects involves creating a series of digital illustrations. That means a lot of time spent hunched over a tablet doing detail work and going back and forth between the main monitors and the tablet monitor. Basically that equals tired eyes and stiff muscles for me, especially since I can easily spend 8 - 12 or more hours on one of these. When I smoked, because I needed to feed my nicotine addiction, I would get up every hour for a "smoke and stretch" and get away from the computer, stretch out my stiff muscles before I got back to it. Last night, I worked for about 6 hours without getting up or really changing position. I usually work from home, sometimes out in the field, depending on the type of project I'm on, so my hours can be weird. I'm prone to eye migraines (a zig-zag of flashing/strobing lights that appears in your field of vision and lasts about 1/2 hour before going away, can lead to actual migraine or a feeling of being disoriented after), and they come on, for me, from stress and tension. Sometimes I'll go for years without having one, sometimes I'll have 3 in a row and then they stop. They're a little disconcerting. So, last night, as I'm working, I start to see that strobing light in my vision. I'd sat for too long and my muscles tensed up too much. I went to lie down in a dark room, and when it was over, I got the usual disorientation and at that point, I had a strong urge to go have a smoke. And I laughed at it. Really? Now? When I'm feeling something that is so close to being lightheaded, and it's making me uncomfortable? So, if I had a smoke then, it would just make me...more lightheaded...and more uncomfortable, among other not so good things. So...how's that going to help? Sounds logical. Hahaha. NOPE. Not at all. Funny thing is, by laughing at the thought, I took away its power and it disappeared. Just like that. It's strange to me how my brain is still programmed to want a smoke when I need some comfort or reassurance. Once you realize a smoke won't give you any of that, it's easy to dismiss any thought of smoking. It was late, Mr. P was still out, but the cats are goofy and always provide a good distraction. I tossed around some cat toys for them and in a few minutes the disorientation passed. After that, I did a quick yoga routine - one that just involved stretching and deep breathing. And all was right in my world again. Those things brought me more comfort and reassured me that all was OK, than a cigarette ever would. Bottom line? I have to remember to get up from the computer regularly and stretch out. And comfort will never be found at the butt end of a cigarette. NOPE.
Withdrawal symptoms: problem is not solved Cravings and withdrawal symptoms exist because the problem is still there. The use of drugs, medication and nicotine replacement products such as patches, nicorettes, inhalers or lozenges is often ineffective because you're not really dealing with the actual issue: the addiction and its related habits. So it's like putting a bandage on a broken leg. To quit smoking this way is both stressful and hard to achieve. Relying on willpower is not efficient, forces you to compensate the habit (often by eating, thus putting on weight) and there's a strong tendency to relapse. Fortunately, there are other ways. You need to reprogram your subconscious so that it can be free of the addiction and all of the habits associated with smoking that are often deeply rooted. Hypnotherapy is a good technique for this, but even easier is EFT, which is what I used. I had one single session with an excellent therapist over Skype and just followed his simple instructions afterwards. Amazingly, I experienced no stress. I kicked off the habit so easily that even during the first week, cigarettes were hardly on my mind. I didn't snack or drink to compensate, nor chew gum, toothpicks or anything else. I didn't feel nervous and was not unpleasant to those around me. In fact, the person I lived with was a heavy smoker and she continued to smoke as usual, right next to me, even in the car. It did not affect me and I never smoked or even wished to smoke again! Today, I am a non-smoker and what's more: no longer addicted to smoking.