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The Significance of Rewards
Sazerac posted a topic in Quit Smoking DiscussionsNicotine stimulates the reward path in our brain and by replenishing ourselves with nicotine, we were rewarded with Dopamine. Many times a day we went from the panic of, 'I've gotta have a smoke' to 'Ahhh', the brief relief of satisfying addiction. We were jerking our own chain every twenty minutes or so....for years. When quitting nicotine, that dance of our reward system shuts down. It's a shock and we miss the consistent rewarding rush of dopamine. Our brain doesn't understand where all the feel good stuff went so, it is essential to amplify rewards, to jump start our natural pathways for the release of Dopamine. The physical act of rewarding ourselves is crucial for the brain to access Dopamine. It took me a moment to wrap my head around this, The Physical Act of Rewarding Ourselves, Is Crucial For The Brain To Access Dopamine. Our friend, bakon, is a big advocate of rewards, quite rightly, too. Celebrate your first moments, days...your first weeks and months. The first year, the next... This can take the form of exotic holidays, paid with the ducats you were giving to Big Tobacco, to simple gifts to yourself, a new book, a magazine, a film... ooh ! plenty of excellent chocolate passed these lips (dark chocolate, apple, almond, banana, strawberry, salmon, beet, watermelon and pumpkin seeds also stimulate Dopamine). Choose activities that make you feel pampered like the perfect bath, an afternoon nap in freshly laundered sheets, a candle lit dinner. Getting through difficulties and experiencing your triumphs are all opportunities to reward yourself. Keep in mind, you are not spoiling yourself, you are re-training your brain to deliver dopamine as an honest reward. Like quenching your thirst with a long tall cool glass of water. Celebrate as the hours go by, while the body adjusts to the new normal. A normal of being rewarded with dopamine but, naturally, of course, the way it was before we allowed nicotine to control our reward system. I remember the first day that I forgot to think about smoking or not smoking, wow ! this is what being nicotine free feels like ! I was so happy and celebrated by purchasing a small tree, a Sweet Viburnum full of blossoms, a living reminder of my freedom. My continuing reward is the luscious freedom I appreciate every single day. I am in better health and free-er in spirit... Tell me what your rewards have been, my nicotine free friends, what are your rewards now ? S p.s. Along with Dopamine, we can hack into our other happy chemicals to improve the quality of our lives, in addition to aid in quitting smoking/nicotine. All are accessible simply through Meditation; taking time for slow, measured breathing letting thoughts slip away. Exercise and laughter induce the release of Endorphins, Oxytocin flows with orgasm, giving/receiving gifts. Serotonin gets you high when sitting in the sun, hanging with friends and by reflecting on your accomplishments. I would also like to add a link from our friend, Joel Spitzer Using Cigarettes As Rewards
Stopping the craziness right now.
PeachFuzz posted a topic in Introductions & About UsBelieve it or not I'm crazy about health and fitness, love jogging, going to the gym and healthy eating. This nasty habit does not jibe with my lifestyle AT ALL. 🏋♀ Something needs to change and that something is ME. Best of luck to all of you Have a beautiful, magical and healthy day. Catch u later Phoebe xx
When Did You Have Confidence In Your Quit ?
Sazerac posted a topic in Quit Smoking DiscussionsI remember having some curiosity about whether I would stay quit. More out of interest, really, rather than any real doubt. For certain, I did not relish repeating Hell week. That will never happen again. Ever. I gained confidence at one week, two weeks and a big boost at one month, then two. At Three Months I was fully realizing that I would never smoke again. I might still have some struggles but, the die was cast. When did you have confidence in your quit ?
The Great Nicotine Free Mental Fog
Sazerac posted a topic in Quit Smoking DiscussionsSurviving The Great NicotineFree Fog Some people experience a mental fog soon after they quit smoking or using nicotine, others don't. It can last from a few hours to a few weeks or longer. My fog wasn't consistent, showing up unannounced and somewhat dismaying. Who am I kidding ? It was disarming and seemed impenetrable. I couldn't have made thoughtful decisions and was glad they weren't necessary. My fog lasted over a month and lingered far too long. Not what you want to hear, I know, but remember, this was only my experience. Everyone's quit is unique, much has to do with attitude, general wellness, behavior/lifestyle, nutrition... Keep some tricks in your tool box to help you, just in case, and keep your blood sugar up. Antidotes ? forced walks, cold air, intentional breathing, too much coffee, 'embracing the suck', attention to my blood sugar, alerting people that might be affected, not stressing out about it...understanding that it will pass. Duration and Density ? On a scale, (10) drastically impaired to (0) normal. -For three days, with OTC help and Whisky, I flirted with informal catatonia (10) -For two weeks, I had little concentration, I wasn't making executive decisions or problem solving (7) -At four weeks, I slowly wakened to lethargy (3) and indolence (2.5) -It tapered off so s l o w l y, it was hard to mark but, that could have been my inattentiveness. pfftt. Have you experienced The Great Smoke Free Fog ? What helped you ? How dense was it ? When did it clear ? Enjoy this lovely short film and listen to Sounding the Sumburgh Foghorn in The Shetlands.
Quitting On A Whim
Sazerac posted a topic in Quit Smoking DiscussionsMany successful quitters here on QTrain have quit on a whim and just like them, I quit on a whim too. This is what led me to making one of the most important decisions in my life on a whim... It was after a trip to California, where finding a place to smoke was problematic and I was among non smoking friends. For the first time, I started seeing addiction for the slavery that it is and I acknowledged my bondage. When slipping outside for another smoke, I glibly announced, "I'm going out now, to shoot up." On the aeroplane back home, a colossal coughing fit overwhelmed me. I had to stand in the back while attendants tapped my back and brought me water. That was weird, I thought. That was awful. What was that about ? After landing, I didn't rush outside for a smoke before climbing into a jitney. Something had changed. Instead, I thought, why don't you try and quit....you already have 6 or 7 hours clean ? Why not ? Let's quit smoking for a while and see how that feels. I spent the next 72 hours sleeping a lot, drinking whisky and reading all about quitting smoking, all about nicotine addiction. After those days, as nicotine left my body, quitting became a wager with myself, a bargain. 'If you don't feel better in five minutes... maybe you'll feel better tomorrow... if you are not feeling pretty good by next week... or, in a month...see what happens after a year.' You can always go back to smoking. You know what that feels like. The thing was....I was feeling Free. While I was beating a trigger or a crave....I was learning how to be Free. It was intoxicating ! It was empowering ! That was where the whim became a serious enterprise. I realized, I would conquer any obstacle to my freedom from nicotine, it was just a matter of time and choice. Maybe you will quit on a whim. You don't need much. Cool clear Water, the fresh Air you breathe, some Kindness towards yourself, and a Willingness To Be free. and from our friend, Joel Spitzer, here are resources regarding Setting Quit Dates
Lifetime of Addiction
Sazerac posted a topic in Quit Smoking DiscussionsOur Nancy asked me to post this from my blog to 'Quit Smoking Discussion'. Thank you Nancy. Lifetime of Addiction I didn't want to hear this but, I am now facing this truth. Nicotine Addiction doesn't go away. You can put it to sleep. You can even put it into deep deep and deeper sleep for years ! but, it will awaken the moment you take one puff. One Puff. This is for your whole life. Mind boggling, huh !? This was the choice you likely didn't even know you were making all those years ago when you started smoking, I didn't understand the ramifications for sure. But, it is the truth. You will always need to be cognizant of your addiction even when smoking is a vague memory, because the moment you take a puff, the moment you take One Bloomin' PUFF, That's it ! It's all over and your enslavement will begin, again. What tenacity ! but, you need to understand, Nicotine is not as tenacious as You and Your Will. You can quit. I know you can. I quit and I am not a special snowflake, I am a Nicotine Addict, just like you. I have great resentment about my Nicotine Addiction. Damn....I didn't know it would be so invasive. I didn't know it was going to be a lifetime relationship. I am so angry about this and it is My Own Damn Fault ! But, my anger, it is a good anger. It is a righteous anger. It is an anger that will fuel my commitment to NOPE. Not One Puff EVER. Copping to the 'forever' part is a cold hard reality of the addiction. At some point, I had to quit fooling myself and accept it. It isn't just for today. It must be forever. If it isn't...I will continue to enslave myself. Some feel their addiction is so strong they cannot quit, This is wrong. You have the power. You always have the power to quit and you always have the power to stay quit. Make the commitment to NOPE ! As our friend, Sarge, says, 'Easy Peasy'. Easy ! not complicated ! This is not Rocket Science. If you make that commitment to NOPE...you will not fail. You Will Not Fail. The simplicity of it ! The Beauty of it ! Not One Puff Ever. Do it. You won't regret it. Love, S
How Nicotine Works
Sazerac posted a topic in Quit Smoking DiscussionsThis is a clear description. ^^^^^^^^^ I'm trying to get this gif to work Joy ! It is working. and I am adding a link to a thread with information about How Smoking Changes Our DNA
Quitting Smoking Blues
Sazerac posted a topic in Quit Smoking DiscussionsHere is an article I found googling around dealing with the Quitting Smoking Blues. This is from the Very Well Mind website Depression Related to Quitting Smoking How to Deal With the Temporary Mood Changes By Terry Martin | Reviewed by Sanja Jelic, MD Updated August 29, 2018 Quitting smoking is difficult enough when you're feeling happy. Unfortunately, it can become further challenging due to depression—a common complaint early on in smoking cessation. Knowing what you may experience as you work to become smoke-free can better prepare you for the journey ahead. If you start to feel depressed after quitting tobacco and your low mood doesn't pass after a few weeks or gets worse, be sure to check in with your doctor for advice. Physical and Psychological Changes Nicotine withdrawal is the primary reason for the temporary depression you may experience after quitting smoking. When you use nicotine on a regular basis, your body and brain become dependent on it, as the nicotine bonds with your brain receptors to trigger the release of dopamine, the "feel-good" hormone. Once you stop smoking and are producing less dopamine than your body and mind have become accustomed to, it is normal to react with low moods and depressed feelings. Lack of nicotine also means losing the "companion" that you thought helped you manage everything from anger to fatigue, which leaves most new ex-smokers feeling empty and adrift for a time. Luckily, for most, the condition is a byproduct of smoking cessation and is temporary. Some common symptoms of depression that you may experience when you stop smoking include: Sleeplessness Sadness Difficulty concentrating Anxiety or an "empty" feeling Fatigue Changes in appetite (eating more or less) Loss of interest in hobbies and activities Emotional irritability You may experience one, some, or all of these at one point or another, and to varying degrees. Coping Techniques Quitting tobacco is a big change in lifestyle, and you should expect to react, to some degree, both emotionally and physically. You are also at an increased risk of suffering a smoking relapse during periods of depression caused by smoking cessation. It is hard to stay focused and maintain the resolve to not smoke when you're feeling low. After years of smoking, it is possible that you began to bury your feelings behind a cloud of smoke. Cigarettes are used to deal with everything from anger to sadness to joy, causing smokers to often lean on tobacco to avoid difficult emotions. It is healthy and productive to let those feelings out, even if you feel a little raw from the experience. For depression that comes with smoking cessation, try some of the following ideas to improve your mood: Get out of a quick walk. Fresh air is always invigorating, and exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which are known to improve mood. Set goals, but don't bite off more than you can chew. Divide tasks related to your goals into small chunks that you feel good about accomplishing. Spend time with people who make you feel good. When negative/sad thoughts come up about smoking, remind yourself that you miss smoking mostly because it was an addiction, and once you're healed, you won't feel this way. Create a list of things you can do at a moment's notice when you're feeling the urge to smoke, like do a crossword puzzle or call a supportive friend. Jolting ourselves out of a negative thought pattern is often as simple as changing what we're doing. Join a support group. Meeting people who are going through the same struggle as you can help you know you're not alone and offer some much-needed support. The American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking program has groups all over the country, or do some research to find other support programs in your local area. While quitting smoking, the body and mind are in a state of transition, and it's not uncommon for new ex-smokers to struggle with their emotions. Don't worry if you are close to tears one moment and angry or sad the next. The balance will return in time. Change Your Mind, Change Your Life One of the greatest challenges new ex-smokers face is an important change in perspective. It is that shift in thinking from seeing smoking cessation as an exercise in deprivation to realizing that it is, in fact, one of the best gifts you'll ever give yourself. This is a crucial step in the process of healing from nicotine addiction, and it is with this transformation that many see their quit-related symptoms of depression begin to lift. Pre-Existing Depression If you have been diagnosed and/or treated for depression prior to quitting smoking, it is important to let your doctor know ahead of time that you're planning to quit. Smoking cessation could make you susceptible to additional mood disturbances. Smoking also causes some medications to be metabolized more quickly, so when you quit, prescriptions you're already taking might need to be adjusted. Your doctor can monitor and correct dosages on any medications you might be on, if necessary. Always be on alert for drastic mood changes and contact your doctor as soon as possible if anything out of the ordinary occurs. If you're having thoughts of self-harm, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifelineat 800-273-8255. A Word From Verywell If the blues have come on since you quit smoking, remember that this is not uncommon. As you are patient through this likely temporary phase, find comfort from your friends, family, and keeping busy with healthier, more productive activities. With time and dedication, these will become the more familiar sources of good feelings, and smoking will become that thing that you thought used to bring you benefit. You can also take comfort in knowing that millions of people have been through this process successfully before you, and many include it among the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Happier days are ahead, and with them will come a tremendous sense of pride and empowerment from overcoming this addiction. Article Sources: National Institutes of Mental Health. Depression. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recognize Signs of Depression. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/depression-and-smoking.html I would like to include Joel Spitzer's video and Resources Concerning Mental Health
Riffing on H. A. L. TI have read about the acronym, H A L T, in recovery paraphernalia and have used it to a great degree of success in changing my patterns from a nicotine addict to a Free person. Having a Crave ? H. A. L. T. Are you Hungry - Thirsty - need a deep breath of Oxygen ? Angry - Happy - Emotional ? Lonesome - Bored ? Tired ? In many, many instances, when I would reach for a smoke, my poor body was actually trying to alert me that it needed attention in some way. My addiction silenced these natural signals. I still catch myself these days...no, it is no longer a crave, it is my body hollering for water or food or something it really needs ! Now, groovin' in my new freedom, when these signals come up, my first thought may still be, 'Oh cigarette, dammit' However, it is followed immediately by, 'No, not smokes...you're Hungry, baby !' or, you're thirsty or, you need to go sit outside and take a big gulp of oxygen and figure out what your body or spirit requires. The piracy that nicotine practiced is still mind-boggling to me. Allowing nicotine to take over my basic human needs of sustenance and comfort was a grave error on my part. I am grateful my body is so forgiving . I am grateful to be free. Free and learning how to read my body's signals and remembering how to take good care of it. So, next time you have what you assume to be a Nic fit, have a think...what is your body really telling you ? It won't be hard to figure out. For me it has been obvious and I have to wonder, how could I have neglected my body for so long ? It is a miracle it survived. I would like to include our friend, Joel Spitzers' Do You Want A Cigarette....H.A.L.T.
Lifetime of AddictionLifetime of Addiction I didn't want to hear this but, I am now facing this truth. Nicotine Addiction doesn't go away. You can put it to sleep. You can even put it into deep deep and deeper sleep for years ! but, it will awaken the moment you take one puff. One Puff. This is for your whole life. Mind boggling, huh !? This was the choice you likely didn't even know you were making all those years ago when you started smoking, I didn't understand the ramifications for sure. But, it is the truth. You will always need to be cognizant of your addiction even when smoking is a vague memory, because the moment you take a puff, the moment you take One Bloomin' PUFF, That's it ! It's all over and your enslavement will begin, again. The tenacity ! but, you need to understand, Nicotine is not as tenacious as You and Your Will. You can quit. I know you can. I quit and I am not a special snowflake, I am a Nicotine Addict, just like you. I have great resentment about my Nicotine Addiction. Damn....I didn't know it would be so invasive. I didn't know it was going to be a lifetime relationship. I am so angry about this but, it is a good anger. It is a righteous anger. It is an anger that will fuel my commitment to NOPE. Not One Puff EVER. Copping to the 'forever' part is a cold hard reality of the addiction. At some point, I had to quit fooling myself and accept it. It isn't just for today. It must be forever. If it isn't...I will continue to enslave myself. Some feel their addiction is so strong they cannot quit, This is wrong. You have the power. You always have the power to quit and you always have the power to stay quit. Make the commitment to NOPE ! As our friend, Sarge, says, 'Easy Peasy'. Easy ! not complicated ! This is not Rocket Science. If you make that commitment to NOPE...you will not fail. The simplicity of it ! The Beauty of it ! Not One Puff Ever. Do it. You won't regret it.
Oh, the possibilities!
PixelSketch posted a topic in Quit Smoking DiscussionsGreetings from the land of wandering moose and timbits! :wacko: It's been a very long time since I checked in. I'm actually not altogether sure when I signed in last. I guess I reached a stage where I didn't want to think or talk or read or hear about smoking. Not even in a positive "yay, we're smoke-free!" kind of way. It took me a long time to figure that out. My early days were filled with nothing but thoughts of smoking. Once I reached a stage where it hardly ever crossed my mind, I suppose I didn't want to encourage those thoughts to come back. I didn't mean to leave so abruptly, in fact I never meant to leave at all, but every time I started to sign in, something stopped me. And then one day turned into two, and then into a week and a month and before I knew it...today had arrived. Yesterday I marked six months smoke-free. And I felt the need to come back and let you all know, that though you may not see or hear me, I'm still on the train with you. I quit romancing the cigarette months ago. I found a new love. Maybe even an obsession. It's actually a very old love. I'm back into weight lifting. Any free time I have is spent at the barbell, aiming to lift ever heavier things and put them back down again. It's spent creating meal plans, and counting macros. It's spent running, with the wind in my hair and the rhythmic tattoo of my shoes on the pavement. I often think of you guys when I run. And I send up thoughts hoping you're all well, and still riding the train. And I send up a thank you. Because without your support through those very tough early days, I wouldn't be pushing my lungs well beyond what I thought they were capable of. I wouldn't be lifting weights I've only dreamed of lifting. I wouldn't feel as strong and healthy and full of possibilities as I do now. And it's those possibilities that matter the most. If you're struggling right now, and wondering if this quit is really worth the pain you're feeling right now, listen up. Six months ago, I had certainties, but no possibilities in my life. A big giant pack of cigarettes had suffocated those. I was certain my allergies and my wheezing was getting worse. I was certain I, a former athlete, could not walk briskly down the street without getting short of breath. I was certain I could not get through one day without coughing. And I was certain that smoking would bring me an early, and unpleasant, end. Today, well, the future is uncertain. But it's full of new goals and dreams and, yes, possibilities. It's amazing how your life gets bigger somehow, and makes space for new adventures, when you're no longer planning the majority of your days around a cigarette. Suddenly there's time for...living. Do I ever think about having a smoke? Yes. But it's just a thought. It doesn't happen often. And I remind myself of what my life looks like now, and what it looked like then, and that makes the choice, and it is a choice, an easy one for me. NOPE. My hope is that everyone here keeps on choosing NOPE too. Every single day. Because it gets better. And it will be worth it. You'll see. Hugs, Ali
I forgot to think about smoking! Yay!
PixelSketch posted a topic in Quit Smoking DiscussionsOK, this is the first time this has happened since I quit!! Even those moments where I wasn't craving one, it was constantly on my mind in some way, even if it was just "I'm not smoking, I'm not smoking..." Today, wrapping up a work project into the wee hours of the night, I suddenly realized that I hadn't thought about smoking for ages! :D So, there's hope!! It's exhausting to always have it on your mind, even when you don't want one. For me, this is the first sign that a future without thinking of smoking really, truly does exist. Looking forward to more and more moments like this. Off to bed, but doing a happy dance. Had to share - to those wondering if you're ever not going to think about it - yeah, the time will come. Hang in there!! :yes: :good3:
PixelSketch posted a blog entry in PixelSketch's BlogMr. Pixel quit smoking at the same time as I did. He was a little more of a casual smoker, and so far, the effects of quitting haven't hit him hard, at least physically. His Hell Week was just a normal week. Once Week Two, aka Heck Week, rolled around, I was up and around, and ready to start rejoining the living again. I knew that it would be an adjustment to get back to my usual routines without a smoke at hand. I was prepared for that. I knew my brain would need to relearn a few things, and I was prepared to deal with some changes. But I never once thought that the way Mr. P and I related to each other would change as a result of stopping the cancer sticks as well. That was a bit of a shock at first. When we'd get home from work, the first thing we would do is head outside for a smoke and discuss the day. Then we'd go in and start making dinner. The rest of the evening was punctuated by smoke breaks. Looking back, it's almost like smoking was the scaffolding on which we hung the rest of our lives; we fit in what we had to do, and what we wanted to do, between smokes. When we took that underlying structure away, we were both at a loss. That led to some crankiness and some petty squabbling, which is usually not our style. There were times we would sit on the couch and uncomfortably stare at each other. Now what? And that's not us either. We've been together for over a decade and have never, ever been at a loss for conversation or activities. We're curious, and active and interested in so many things. We have a lot in common, and a lot of differences, so it's always an adventure. And it's good. There's always something going on around here. This was just weird. But slowly, we came to realize that, even though we've been together a long time, and we knew each other really well, we've never known a time where we were together as non-smokers. Every single thing we've ever done over the course of 13 years has been punctuated in some way by a smoke; dates, trips, dinners, walks, parties, funerals, weddings, work, even workouts. Smoking was as deeply woven into the fabric of our relationship as our feelings for one another. It was a frightening realization. Could we make this better? How? Now what, indeed. So we started by asking each other one question, "What do you need right now to feel 'normal', other than a smoke?" Answering that proved to be the key. It turned out that it wasn't really the smoke itself that we missed, but rather the routine of heading outside, walking around a bit, talking about our day or the news or whatever. That particular smoke was actually a signal for us to shake the day off and ease into the evening. It was a bridge from crazy day to relaxing night. And without that signal, we were kind of lost. So, we took a walk. And we talked. And we didn't smoke. And it worked. After a few days, that became our new normal and we no longer missed having that after work smoke. We still had that thing that we actually needed - the reason for the smoke - without the smoke itself. From that point on, anytime we felt 'off', we would go back to that question, "What do you need right now?". And it's working. I've come to realize that as we remove that scaffolding, we're revealing the beautiful structure underneath. We've been building it for over a decade, and it's solid. It can withstand much more than I thought it could, and, best of all, it's at the point where we can continue to build upon it, without all that messy, ugly scaffolding. After all, scaffolding is only ever meant to be temporary anyway. The building underneath? That's the real deal.