Sounds like a strange title right? Today I reached a milestone; two years smoke-free. It’s important to note that I wasn’t a casual smoker, 15-20 a day was the usual depending on stress/work levels. I also always had to go out for a cigarette about once an hour, not doing so made me angry and nervous. I got to thinking about the changes that have occurred during these fantastic smoke-free years and how it’s impacted my company.
As a smoker I was always worried about smelly breath, smelly hands, smelly clothes, cigarette burns on my clothes, cigarettes rolling around in my handbag or falling out in front of people.. it was a lot of worry every time I was meeting a customer or going into a meeting after pulling in two cigarettes to ‘top me up’ before a two hour meeting. The truth is that no matter what you do.. as a smoker, you will smell of smoke. Since I got my sense of smell back, I am acutely aware of any smokers. Even though nowadays the smell of smoke is repulsive to me, it’s important to remember that there’s still a person in that cloud so treat them the way you treat any person (with some humanity preferably). “There’s nothing worse than an ex-smoker for being judgemental” I used to say while puffing away.
This regained confidence shows in all aspects of my life especially my business. I no longer talk with my hand over my mouth (as if that helped) to hide my breath and teeth. I can still socialize with the best of em and am not afraid of meeting new people and introducing myself (well not as scared anyway, after all I am a geek).
In the first few weeks of me stopping smoking it was hard to sit down and get anything done. Sugar levels are manipulated by the toxins in cigarettes so when you stop it takes time for the body to adjust. I found that sipping on fruit juice helped with this however it was tricky to sit down and do some work back then. Fortunately this stage didn’t last long and is well worth the discomfort. Once the body is clear of toxins, the ability to concentrate improves significantly. The nagging feeling ‘I want to smoke’ is removed but also the stress that the addiction cycle puts on your body and mind (whether you realize it or not) disappears.
Once I got my concentration back, I found that I could work consistently for three sometimes four hours without a break (not very healthy to do that though, still healthier than smoking!). Needless to say, this improved the amount of work I could get done as well as a complete change in the way I perceived stress and it’s causes.
I’ll try not to bore you with the obvious fact: Smoking is expensive. We all know that, what I’m thinking about is more the financial burden. We’ve all been there, late at night and the cigarettes are running out and there isn’t enough for the morning. So rather than just not smoke, it’s time to get on coats and shoes and make your way to the nearest open shop to buy cigs. If you have money for them, great, hand it over. If you don’t… panic sets in. Every time I looked at our finances for the month, I had to account for smoking even before groceries. If I ran out of money, I’d panic because I couldn’t afford my next fix. That wasn’t a healthy way to live.
I moved out of the relative safety of working in an office in May this year, that meant that cash-flow was not so regular. I would never have dreamed of doing that if I had still been smoking and so far it’s been a fantastic decision! Food is something that’s reasonably cheap so as long as I have a store of it in the cupboard, I can survive short droughts while waiting for payments to come in etc. That little bit more freedom helps me sleep at night.
Stopping smoking has impacted my life in more ways than these three but no matter how long this post gets, if you’re not ready to stop then you’re just not ready and I hope you’ll get to that place soon. The first month can be really hard but after that time you won’t even remember you smoked. I recommend Alan Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking as well as good old fashioned fresh-air, typing a lot (helps keep those fingers busy), lots of juice/water and most importantly, just be kind to yourself and let yourself enjoy the process of getting free.