WANT TO BREATHE EASIER?
Written by Romy Benshabat, HND Practical Journalism
Quitting smoking could be the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but with most life-long smokers beginning their smoking habits before the age of 24, the years in which the majority of City of Glasgow College students attend college are a vital window of opportunity to stop smoking cigarettes.
Slogans have never really worked for me, “be smart, don’t start” was all but too late, being hypnotised conjured visions of being made to cluck like a chicken and acupuncture looks intimidating and uncomfortable. However, when I found myself at 22 years old, struggling to breathe as I walked up the hill to college every day, I felt like something should really change.
But where would I even start? I’ve been a smoker since I was 16, first starting as a social tool, gradually slipping in and out of denial that I even was an actual smoker. My parents hate it, most of my friends don’t smoke anymore and honestly, do I even enjoy it?
City of Glasgow College’s new no smoking policy also made smoking between classes less convenient and made me feel strikingly out of place when I did smoke. The introduction of the policy means that both college campuses are now completely smoke free environments, which made me more aware of my habit than ever before. I decided, despite the cliché, to use New Year as a starting point to quit smoking.
At first, I really had to look at the reasons for which I continued to smoke despite being well aware of the associated risks and negative connotations, as I felt focusing on the negatives alone had never helped. Like with any addiction, we each have our own individual triggers and understanding why we smoke is one of the most important key factors when it comes to quitting. Our reasons for smoking can include providing relaxation or preventing stress, rounding off a meal or preventing hunger, while drinking alcohol, a means of which to subtly detach from social situations, a means of which to socially connect with other smokers, revisiting familiar settings where you’ve smoked previously, a way of getting more breaks at work or simply to have something to do with your hands.
It’s important to remember however, that many of the excuses we use for smoking, triggers or “needs” we feel that we have, can not only be replaced by healthier alternatives but some may not have existed before you started smoking. It’s commonly thought that smoking relieves stress but actually nicotine withdrawal causes heightened feelings of stress and although it can seem like smoking reduces other stresses, this is unlikely to be true. Studies have shown that quitting a habit like smoking is much more about placating these needs as opposed to just going cold turkey or attempting to just not buy cigarettes.
However as students, it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves, for many it’s the first opportunity at living independently or being a student and trying to make the most of what is described as the best time of our lives can be enough pressure in itself. I tend to find myself in a limbo, attempting to balance a healthy lifestyle with enough of a social life to keep sane and enough studying to pass my HND. If you already smoke, the idea of quitting smoking amongst the delicate balance of your already new, stressful lifestyle may seem impossible but the benefits are likely to outweigh those you gain from smoking.