As lockdown continues, and we face another few months of life without access to our traditional gym settings, I have been inundated with questions regarding training strategies that can be implemented at home.
We all know of the risks associated with smoking and the damage it can do to our health, but sometimes making the decision to quit can seem like the hardest step to ever take in the process of quitting.
So, to give us the best chances of quitting smoking it is important to understand that there is support available to help you along the way.
The Stoptober campaign is founded on evidence that if someone can quit smoking for 28 days, they are five times more likely to quit for good. So, it’s important to understand that you don’t need to wait until October or New Year to make such a positive decision when it comes to your overall health and wellbeing – it’s down to your determination and the support around you. You can start your smoke-free journey at any time of the year, and there are lots of available resources ready to cheer and help you along the way.
What are the health risks associated to smoking?
Smoking can lead to damage to nearly every part of the body. Every year around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking and according to NHS figures, many more are living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses. Smoking can increase your risk of develop many serious health conditions, some of which are fatal and others cause irreversible damage to a person.
Smoking also increases your risk of:
One of the main health risks associated with smoking is lung cancer, and around 70% of cases are caused by smoking. It is important to be aware of the risks associated with smoking as these can act as the deciding factors for someone to make the decision to quit.
The damage is not limited to those who smoke themselves, but second-hand smoke can also cause health damages to the people around you. According to ASH, children who grow up around parents or siblings who smoke are around three times more likely to smoke themselves, compared to children living in non-smoking households. So, understanding how we role-model through our actions and how this impact on our children can also provide the motivation to seek a smoke-free lifestyle.
Finally smoking has a significant price-tag associated to it. On average someone who smokes 20 cigarettes per day spends around £89.11 per week. Over a year this equates to £4,633.72 – that equates to spending 52p each hour, every hour of the year, day or night. So, for some the financial benefits of stopping smoking can bring some very positive changes indeed.
Within 20 minutes of making the decision to quit, your body will make changes for the better and these effects will progressively continue.
After 20 minutes, your body’s pulse rate will be returning to normal and within the first 3 days of quitting, your breathing will return to normal and your energy levels should be increasing again. After one year, your risk of heart attack will reduce by 50% compared to when you were smoking and once you have stopped smoking for ten years, your risk of lung cancer will have also reduced by 50% compared to before.
The benefits of stopping smoking will also improve the lives of the people around you as breathing in second-hand smoke also increases your risk of getting the same health problems as that of a smoker. If someone you live with smokes continuously, your risk of developing lung cancer increases by about 25%. These risks should help you support those around you to quit for good to not only improve your health, but theirs as well.
So, what happens when you decide to quit smoking?
Firstly, congratulations for taking the initial step to give up smoking.
The first few days or weeks may be the hardest, especially if you have decided to quit going ‘cold turkey’, meaning you are not using any other withdrawal methods or support in order to stop smoking.
There are however, steps you can take to give you a better chance of quitting and access to the correct support during this period:
Create an Action Plan:
The first step will be to create a plan of action, this will help you to stay confident and motivated to quit and you can personalise the plan to fit you and your needs. It is important to remember that everyone’s plan and experience will be different, don’t compare yourself to someone else going through the quitting process.
Some factors that can help is to list the reasons you have quit; you can look back at these when you are doubting your decision to remind you why you started. It may also be useful to tell your friends and family that you are quitting, this can provide you a support network to steer you away from cigarettes when you are having cravings.
It is important to have a plan in place when you are tempted to smoke, this could include understanding what your triggers are and how to detect and avoid them and figure out ways to keep your cravings at bay.
During the initial periods, it is important to keep busy, this could be through exercise or taking up a new hobby.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT):
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can also be very valuable for someone when they are quitting and giving up smoking. The range of products out there means that there is something out there for everyone.
NRT provides low level nicotine, which is the main component of a cigarette that people get addicted too. NRT can help with cravings that may occur when you stop smoking and it can be found in community pharmacists but also though your doctor or stop smoking services.
NRT compares in slow and fast release preparations, and usually a combination of both will usually offer the best relief for a person. The benefit of NRT is that you can slowly reduce your nicotine dose and eventually stop, and this can ease the quitting process.
Alongside NRT, having a plan and keeping busy, it is also support to access the correct support when you need it. The NHS offer a free Smokefree app on smart phones and it can be used to track your progress, learn how much money you will be saving and receive daily support.
There are also other support platforms out there, including Smokefree quit smoking support group on Facebook which allows you to connect with other people going through the same process as you.
Alongside all of this, your doctor or pharmacist can also provide you support during this journey and you can discuss your concerns with them as well as the different NRT products available and which would be best suited to you.
Gaining the confidence to make the decision to quit is the first step on a journey to improving your health and those around you for the better. Understand that you are not alone on this journey and there is support out there to help you through this process.
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