I Failed #Stoptober

Hey Hey Guys!

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We’ve all heard the fads; Sober October; give up booze in October; Movember; grow a moustache in November (generally speaking this one is just for men, but I daresay there is the odd woman who might participate!) to name just two.

In October, I participated in #Stoptober, where I attempted to kick the fags. And I am going to tell you why I failed.

I was never a heavy smoker, at most seven or eight a day, so I thought it would be easy to give them up. Turns out I relied on those little white devils more than I thought.

For the first 15 days I was doing pretty well. I had given them up for two months in the summer with absolutely no problem, going cold turkey, not even caring. This summer I was forced to give them up. I had no choice. So with that decision taken entirely out of my hands, it was easy! When there is only one path, you take it.

But this month has been a time of stress and my freedom has been returned, with University work picking up and an internship on the horizon, drama with family and friends and just a lot of general business heading my way. I had not anticipated quite how much I would be craving that little roll-up, those precious stolen moments when I could slip outside for five minutes, take a second to myself and get some (debatably) fresh air.

When my head is abuzz and my life in a perpetual sort of organised chaos, my schedule planned to the minute and all my time devoured by commitments and obligations, I pray for those times in transit, the only times when I am really by myself because it gives me the excuse not to think about anything. It is in those times that I am at my weakest.

We all know when we are at our weakest and most likely to fall off whatever health wagon we are on. For some people it is when you are tired and hungry and the urge to hit up a fast food joint is strong. Often that ever-reliable excuse of “convenience” is brought out, with the justification that you are on the move, you need something quick and easy and oh look, how fortunate, a burger bar, cheap and quick, is right on the corner there. For others it is the “I’ve been at work all day, I don’t need to go to the gym” mantra. For me, it’s the “I’m stressed and tired” excuse, that sees my hand snaking it’s way to my right pocket and my pre-rolled cigs.

My Face When I Am Stressed

My Face When I Am Stressed

That is where I fell down. I got very stressed and very sad one evening towards the end of the month and snapped. I was in a corner shop, frowning in exasperation, having had it with the world and before I knew it, I was asking for tobacco and I walked out of the shop with more than just a bottle of juice.

And do you know what; it was the most relief I have felt in all that long month. Sure, I feel guilty for breaking my vow to keep the air in my lungs clear, but in that moment, it was worth it.

But what really gets me is that it was not really my choice to quit in October. I was set up for failure by attempting to chance a lifestyle habit at a time and in a timeframe that was dictated by others, rather than by me. I wanted to quit but I should have done so in my own time, not because I was jumping on the band waggon. It was as convenient for me to quit in October as it is for me to light up when I am stressed; but that doesn’t mean that either of those things are good for me. We are conditioned to perform all actions in the most convenient way, even if it’s not the best option in the long term. Maybe I should have meditated or something. But that wouldn’t have given me the immediate gratification that I was desperately craving in that moment.

It makes me think about addiction and stress. We all have ways of coping and most of the time, they are not too good for us. As people we are susceptible to destructive behaviour and it’s something that we have struggled with since the dawn of time. We crave things that are not good for us, whether that be alcohol, cigarettes or dates with “bad boys”. But the important thing is to persevere and try to recognise that these things are bad for us and limit the negative effect we allow them to have on us.

I do regret not sticking too my word (not least because my dad promised to match whatever I saved!) but at least not I know that it is my relief mechanism. I need to find a new way to get that same hit of immediate gratification, something healthier. It is possible to give up the things that are not making our lives richer, but perhaps it has to rake something more than will power. It may be that we need to know there is a definite positive outcome. I didn’t factor in a reward system, meaning that I was losing something I enjoyed and getting nothing to replace it with.

So my advice to anyone trying to give up something less than good for you is this; make sure you have a reward in place for all your efforts. Never take something away and have nothing to gain from it, because that selfish, craving part of you will simply implore you to give up.

Read the article HERE!

So, treat yo self! Good luck!

SSDD!