An Inspiring Story and a Goal Worth Setting Article of the week Feb 19 to 23, 2018
My very first article of the week in January this year was entitled, “How is 2018 Going to be Different?” In that article I encouraged each of you to take some time to reflect on your life and health and set one or two small goals that would make your life better in the year to come. Did you know that 80% of resolutions made in the first week of January have been abandoned by the second week of February? Last week I had a conversation with a patient who, together with her husband had made the commitment to stop smoking. After smoking for over 40 years both of them had successfully gone over 4 weeks without smoking.
I admire anyone who sets a goal to stop smoking for two reasons. Number one, breaking a smoking habit is perhaps one of the most challenging health changes one can make. The reason is that nicotine is incredibly addictive because it stimulates the release of a feel-good chemical in your brain called dopamine. Many smokers find that lighting up boosts their mood, alleviates depression, improves concentration and gives a temporary sense of well-being. The brain chemical dopamine is responsible for these feelings. However, the more you smoke, your nerve cells become increasingly de-sensitized to dopamine which means you have to increase your nicotine intake to get the same high.
The second reason I admire those who take this goal on is because there are few health changes a person can make that have a greater impact on overall health and well-being. Smoking, together with obesity are considered to be the two leading causes of preventable death in Canada. As I'm sure you are aware, smoking directly causes heart attacks, strokes, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), respiratory problems and cancer. The great news is, that there is immense benefit in making the choice to quit no matter how old you are, or what your stage of life! On the reverse side of this article I have attached a graphic with a chronological description of how your health benefits in the days, weeks, months and years after quitting.
As your health care provider, I implore those of you who are smokers to pick a quit date. I want you to have a long life, but also a life where you are able to do the things that you want to do for years to come. Smoking not only shortens your life, it robs you of a good quality of life for the time you are here. Here are some bullet points to consider as you map out your path to successfully quitting:
- Choose a Quit Day – pick a day that is not stressful for you – a birthday, your anniversary or the first day of the month
- Enlist Help – tell someone about your decision to quit. Like the wife-husband example above, you are going to be more successful if you are not trying to do this alone. Your support doesn't have to be another smoker
- Choose Your Nicotine Replacement Therapy – as mentioned above, nicotine is addictive and it will take a replacement to help you overcome your withdrawal symptoms. Replacements come in patches, gums, nasal sprays, inhalers and lozenges. Get your doctor to help you determine which NRT is best for you
- Identify Your Triggers – make a list of the things you do that involve smoking (social gatherings, work breaks). Before your official quit day, come up with a plan of how you are going to deal with these situations
- Try this Instead – Time magazine posted this list of things to try when you are tempted – exercise, wearing a rubber band around your wrist that you “snap” when you're thinking of giving in, take a shower, listen to music, light a candle or some incense, chew something healthy to alleviate the oral craving (carrots, celery, peppers etc.)
- Spring Clean – wash or throw away everything that reminds you of smoking
- Advice from Yoda – in The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda says, “do or do not, there is no try” - this is another way of saying commitment is the key to your success. Make a decision that failure is not an option
- Community Support – attend communities of former smokers or support clinics – the next date for The STOP Program workshop offered through the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is March 15, 2018 – call 705-721-7520 for more information
For those of you who know it's time to quit, I know you can do this! Don't be afraid to ask for help early and often.
Grace Chiropractic – 1-3230 Monarch Drive – 705-323-9100 – http://gracechiropractic.ca