William James once said, “All of our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.” And the truth is that we are nothing more than a mass of our personal habits. Every habit has its own routine: cue, feeding the habit and reward. In terms of smoking tobacco, the cue could be anything from a morning coffee or evening drink, to a spike in stress levels or something that makes you angry. In the life of a smoker, any of these cues usually result in lighting up a cigarette. Of course, we then have to find a place where smoking hasn’t been banned yet. That’s the feeding – finding a place to light up. And the reward? We all know that. It’s the feeling of stress and anxiety washing away with each pull or simply enjoying the inhalation of nicotine with a drink. Over time this routine no longer involves a conscious decision; it has become a neurological craving.
We are constantly reminded of the numerous health effects of smoking. When walking a flight of stairs or engaging in other more strenuous physical activity, the question of quitting pops up in the mind of a smoker.
But what does it really feel like to quit smoking?
- Physiological benefits
The physiological benefits include normalizing blood pressure and pulse, clearing out the lungs, detoxifying your body from tobacco and all of the chemicals. This results in improved circulation and lower risk of pulmonary, cardiovascular and oncology related diseases.
In fact, many of these wonderful health benefits start taking effect immediately.
- Visible benefits
Quitting tobacco also has visible benefits that you can enjoy. As your body detoxes, one of the first visible signs are the changes in your skin. As the skin receives more oxygen and nutrients, it heals, reversing the sallow, lined complexion that smokers often have. Aging and appearance of wrinkles are significantly delayed for nonsmokers. Dental improvement is visible within days – giving up tobacco stops teeth from becoming stained, as well as giving fresher breath.
Another pleasant benefit of kicking the habit is that you get to hear your actual voice in the morning, without spending time without the constant attempts of clearing your throat and hacking up phlegm.
As your lungs clear out, the ease in breathing feels great. People breathe far more easily and cough less when they give up smoking because their lung capacity improves by up to 10% within nine months! This is even more apparent in older smokers. For younger smokers, the effect of tobacco smoking on the lungs capacity may not be as noticeable unless they are engaged in physical activity, since lung capacity naturally diminishes with age. In later years, having maximum lung capacity can mean the difference between having an active, healthy lifestyle and wheezing when simply going for a walk or climbing the stairs!
- Smell and taste
Kicking the smoking habit also gives your sense of smell as well as your taste buds a boost. These senses are recovering after being dulled by the thousands of toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.
- Blood circulation
After two weeks of quitting, circulation starts improving, making all physical activity less strenuous on the body. It also boosts the immune system, which makes it easier to fight off colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Quitting tobacco smoking has numerous visible as well as internal benefits as the overall health of your body improves. Physically, almost everything changes – from better skin to your newfound increase in energy. As the symptoms of addiction subside (such as nervousness, unease and cigarette cravings) the feeling of being free will create a pleasant physiological as well as psychological response that will make you question why you ever start smoking in the first place.