11 Emotional Stages Of Quitting Smoking

Published on August 22, 2019

Quitting smoking is a physical and mental battle. We asked Kinetik’s very own George Chandler what emotional stages he went through to quit smoking and overcome his addiction.

“Your internal monologue tells you to quit at least 47 times before you go through with it, but most of us (me included) ignore our ‘angel on shoulder voice’, instead prioritising ‘being cool’ or the fear of weight gain over our actual health! In hindsight, with a healthier mindset, I wasn’t in control of my own decisions”.

The plan

I found that if you quit smoking on a whim just because you’ve heard it’s not good for you, you’ll almost certainly find yourself in a petrol garage at 2am buying more cigarettes. By following your own emotional steps and investing in an app (most of which are free) you can track everything from oxygen level improvement to your teeth and gums repairing. Lets delve deeper into the emotional stages of giving up smoking.

The epiphany

My ‘epiphany’ moment came in two stages. The first was when I was when I realised: “Okay I smell like an ash tray, I’ve got sixteen borrowed lighters in my bedroom, and I’m standing outside in the rain like a drowned rat – alone – damaging my health! The second was when my Auntie Mags came to visit and announced she had gone from smoking 40 cigarettes a day for 30 years out her mouth, ears and eyes to suddenly deciding she has had enough. Her habit was so bad that we nicknamed our Auntie Mags, ‘Auntie Fags!’. My Aunt’s exemplary attitude was inspiring as she told the world she was no longer going to allow cigarettes to control her. This made me wonder: ‘Well, if Auntie ‘Fags’ can do it then surely I can”.

Recognising Addiction

Just like any other addiction, it takes courage to admit you have one. Once you’ve crossed the barrier from a social cigarette at your friend’s wedding to chain smoking on your doorstep with only your shadow for company, you are no longer in control of your own decisions.

Finding your ‘Why’

Whether you are expecting a child, training for a marathon or you want to be healthier – appreciating your reasons for quitting and placing them higher than your cravings, temptation and habit is paramount. Everyone is different. My personal reason was statistics. I worked out that I had been smoking for ten years which meant I had a high chance of associated health complications. Logically speaking, it felt like the right time to quit to have a higher chance of turning things around.  

Understanding smoking doesn’t relieve stress, it causes it!

Look, trust me I get it! You feel stressed out, you puff on a cigarette, your anxiety drifts away for a fraction of a second and you mentally breathe a sigh of relief. Like a magician performing his next trick, this vicious cycle is simply an illusion of a long-term solution. The reality is, this short-term fix conceives a long-term issue. Whilst smoking appears to take the edge off your family bust up or work deadline, nicotine triggers hormones in the body that make you more depressed and anxious! Ultimately, this leads us to a ‘need’ (rather than a want) to puff our cigarette over and over. Clever little things aren’t they?!

Realising that smoking is not ‘on trend’ anymore.

Gone are the days of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and the cast of Goodfellas puffing on a cigarette whilst leaning back and epitomising all that’s cool with the world. Look around you, nobody in 2019 is smoking anymore. Ten years ago, picking someone at random in the street to ask for their lighter was as common as asking for directions. “Excuse me, have you got a lighter?” worked on at least one in two people. Sometimes you could simply mime your request with no words required. Now, as a 29-year-old man, asking the same question to 10 different people would be met with confused reactions and: “No sorry I don’t smoke’. It was this very alienating social change that made me realise that I needed to stop smoking (and miming for that matter).

It’s cool to be healthy

In a wellbeing-driven, ‘Instagrammable’ age of smashed avocados, Chai Latte’s and bikini pics, there’s never been more information and encouragement to join the healthy side of life. Ten years ago, keeping track of your health was -rather foolishly – deemed to be ‘nerdy’ or ‘uncool’. Now with apps like ‘Map My Run’ or Kinetik Wellbeing’s Fitness Bluetooth activity tracker, it is cooler than ever to track your health and be the best possible version of yourself. Recently I even bought a blood pressure monitor to track my heart rate, simply because I read that most people with low blood pressure don’t have noticeable symptoms .

Quitting smoking does NOT make you fat

The throw-away expression: “I’d rather die than be fat” is a lot more literal than people think. One of the biggest reasons people don’t want to quit smoking is because they’d rather run the risk of smoking for longer than bloating out 6-12 lbs. Whilst It’s true that a side effect of quitting ‘could’ be weight gain, it’s all relative in the context of what you’re eating and how much you’re exercising. It is sometimes thought that smoking withdrawal could cause you to pick up an extra donut instead of a cigarette to fill the void. However, if you plan to control your mind rather than let it be controlled, you can set up a light/moderate training regime to keep those unwanted pounds piling on.

The pride that follows

Picture this: You’re at a family BBQ gloating to everyone: “Oh, did you know it’s been six months since I quit smoking?” followed by the reactions: “Oh wow, really!? That’s amazing! I’m so proud of you!” Yes, granted this sounds ridiculous and attention seeking (snore) but think of how many people will feel inspired by your achievement. Not only will it set a positive benchmark to others but it will give you the self-esteem you deserve to recognise that you are now in control.

Exercise is great. But it’s not an order!

We’ve all been there. That ghastly realisation that you are as unfit as a sloth swimming through mud. But once you consider that exercise is proven to reduce cravings and have got that first difficult run out of the way you’ll be inspired! A review of scientific studies has proved that exercise- even a 5-minute walk or stretch – cuts cravings and may help your brain produce anti-craving chemicals. Remember: quitting smoking is a huge achievement so give yourself a break if you do skip the gym. The last thing you need is a loud mouth boot camp sergeant jumping into your mind, ordering you to drop down and give him twenty!

The ‘I Vape’ phase

The ideal transition is smoking, to vaping, to quitting altogether. Most of the reason we’re addicted to cigarettes in the first place isn’t because we like the taste of tar sticking to our lungs. In fact, it’s the routine habit of arm to mouth motion. Sounds silly, but suddenly not having those 4-5 breaks in our day can leave us feeling emotions of withdrawal. Also, how great would it be to have all the same feelings of smoking, without the social stigma and the unbearable smell it causes for others? A British Heart foundation study ‘Is Vaping Safe’ released this quote: “Any smoker with a heart condition has almost certainly tried to quit in the past and failed. Try again with an electronic cigarette and further down the line, you might want to quit the e-cigarette”

I’d love to provide you with another inspiring story of how I went from vaping to quitting altogether but the reality is, my vape broke at a party and then I literally forgot to replace it! A week or so went by and I realised that I didn’t even crave it anymore! So that was my personal journey to quitting smoking! Thank you for reading!

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