Smoking can be a big part of someone's life and forms part of a daily ritual; a cigarette taken with a morning coffee, another on a lunch break with friends, two after a stressful day at work. These rituals of habit can be tough to break and giving up can seem impossible. Yet, there are many successful quit stories happening every day and today, Joanne, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner for TALKWORKS, shares her amazing story and explains how she gave up smoking during lockdown. Joanne says:
"Think back to March; when things were ‘normal’, life as we knew it was happening and we were all continuing with our routines of work and home life. These daily routines were set firmly as habits, from what we eat, drink and in mine and many other cases, smoked. The very thought of changing these habits seems overwhelming and something we will change ‘tomorrow’. Then we are hit with a global pandemic, which is taking the lives of many with its aggressive effects on the respiratory system. As an asthmatic, who smoked (yes, you may judge, but that’s human behaviour for you) the very thought of contracting a disease that could render me breathless was a frightening concept. I would like to say that it wasn’t fear that was driving my motivation, but I would be wrong. What maintained this change in my habit was everything but fear.
"My decision to give up smoking was formed as the pandemic progressed and I booked an appointment with the Stop Smoking Advisor at my GP practice. It was the second week of lockdown, we were now working from home and everything changed. From the lack of commute to work, having children in the house to ‘home school’ (I say this loosely) and navigating our way through the chaos that is home working. The big date arrived and I threw away any smoking paraphernalia that could possibly tempt me and firmly applied my first patch. I think that the thought of giving up was the most painful part, as when I did, it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. Each hour passed and each craving was helped with a piece of mint gum and thoughts about how healthy I could be if I just stuck it out. The cues that I previously associated with smoking had gone, like the commute to work and meeting up with other fellow smokers which made things a lot easier.
"Come June, I was walking around 8km per day with one very happy golden retriever and I signed up to do a Marathon over the course of July to raise money for the Samaritans. I felt fitter than ever. I didn’t wake up with that nagging cough that I could have mistaken for something more serious. I successfully ran my marathon in two weeks and raised £180 for the Samaritans. I am certain that there would be no chance of me being able to run up the stairs previous to quitting, so 26.2 miles in two weeks was quite an achievement, and those achievements didn't stop there.
"As I signed up to the stop smoking service through my GP practice, I came across an email with an online survey from Action for Smoking and Health (ASH). I happily completed it in the name of research, giving detail about my quitting experience. Later, I received an email from ASH asking me to contribute to a press release offering my story which I agreed to do. This caused a ripple effect, with the Financial Times and CBS America also wanting to interview little old me! I was later invited to a national meeting with the Smoking and Mental Health Partnership group where I now gain information on how other Trusts are supporting people with mental health difficulties to give up smoking. This has prompted me to help bring about change within DPT.
"I now sit writing this story a stone and a half lighter, with no cravings, better self-esteem and job satisfaction. I found it difficult at first to talk about the fact that I smoked, due to the stigma and anti-social perception around smoking. However, if the telling of my story helps to bring about change in just one person, it is well worth it.
Your stop smoking journey can begin at any time.
How you can quit?
There’s lots of free support available so you can find what works best for you. Whether that’s online or by having specialist support from a trained stop smoking advisor right here in Devon.
If you live in the Devon County Council area and would prefer to talk to someone, you can access free one-to-one support from a Specialist Stop Smoking advisor, either face to face (where possible), or on the telephone by contacting OneSmallStep on 01392 908 139, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by texting the word QUIT to 60777.
OneSmallStep advisors can provide up to 12 weeks of support and will also provide Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). NRT products, like patches and gum, will help manage your cravings and withdrawal symptoms and your weekly support sessions with your stop smoking advisor will provide you with coping mechanisms, tips and tricks to make things a little easier, and encouragement and support if things get tricky.
For more tips, motivation and support follow OneSmallStep on social media:
For those seeking help in the Torbay and Plymouth areas, please contact the services below: