STOP STRESS AND QUIT SMOKING
GOAL – STOP STRESS
“After an argument with my wife, I go into the family room and eat a full bag of chips while watching television.”
“I quit smoking, then had an argument with my boss, lit up and continued ever since.”
“With continuous pressure at work, I can only relax after three shots of whisky.”
These are stress related-behaviors that make my clients feel rotten. You may have tried to respond differently in the past, but under extreme pressure, have given in to the eating, drinking or smoking syndrome, searching for comfort with these habits. Unfortunately, comfort is the last feeling you derive from these habits. So the disappointment you feel is increased. You’re on a roller coaster and can’t get off.
According to Dorland’s Medical Dictionary, stress can be defined as the sum of the biological reactions to any adverse stimulus – whether physical, mental, or emotional, internal or external – that tends to disturb the organism’s homeostasis. Should these compensating biological reactions be inadequate or inappropriate, disorders may result.
Poor eating habits can lead to increased stress. And increased stress leads to poor eating habits.
STRESS DEPLETES OUR BODIES OF VITAL NUTRIENTS AND MINERALS
Unfortunately, people with a busy schedule, whose lifestyles are too hectic to plan meals and snacks, grab the quickest and easiest foods, which are usually high in fat. Instead, choose:
o Carbohydrate-type foods, such as whole grain products, fruits and vegetables. They increase the brain serotonin levels and therefore have a calming effect and improve sleep.
o B vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folacin in grain products; thiamin and folacin in vegetables and fruit; vitamin B12 in animal protein foods. (Supplements are not of much value.)
THE RESULTS OF STRESS
What do my clients talk about when they see me? In the beginning it’s nutrition, food and activity. Then they start telling me they cannot change their eating habits as they’re suffering from headaches, lack of sleep, irritability, muscle tension in the neck, depression or short- tempered - all stress situations.
For comfort they’re turning to high-calorie foods like chocolates and cake, not salads - aggravating the condition. Many times during our sessions, we focus on lowering the client’s stress level, therefore lowering anxiety eating, and abuse substances like alcohol and tobacco.
THE SOLUTION TO STRESS
Sometimes at the initial consultation, I meet people who are intense. Everything I say is met with a negative response. It’s difficult to motivate depressed and stressed people. By the second session, they’re starting to feel hopeful about the possibilities of change in themselves. By the third session they are relaxed, chatting and even smiling! They are starting to trust me. From then on, I tell them they may not enter my office without a smile. Soon there’s a glow on their faces, a sparkle in their eyes and they get very excited about their sessions. Their modest successes become stepping-stones to their becoming happier, more confident people.
I emphasize with my clients the importance of determining the causes of their stress. We both need to know so that we can work on finding a solution. They write down the possible causes and we talk about them. Is it worth using up so much negative energy? Does it help the situation if you’re stressed out, or will it cause damage? They admit that stress can only worsen the situation. We then look at choices. What good reaction can replace the bad habit they want to stop? After selecting one, we put it into practice. We begin to make changes. It is a slow process, but there is hope, and that’s all you need. The hope to make a change is the start. The optimism that you never knew you had starts growing.
Another question I ask my clients. “Are you putting fun on hold?” Are you hoping for a better job, waiting for a bonus, retirement or holiday? What do you do in the meantime? Feel miserable and complain until your future fun happens? That’s not a way to live! You can’t allow yourself to have miserable days, hoping for good times in the next few months or years.
Get out of this dead-end situation. Fun happens now! If it’s impossible to get out of the stress-causing situation at the moment, find a way to handle it better. Being depressed is not going to improve the circumstances. Channel your energy into something you enjoy. It may be walking, reading, swimming, a movie, yoga or talking to a friend. You choose.
Try relaxing without feeling guilty about enjoying leisure time. Work with a charity, getting involved in helping people less fortunate than you. Activities like these will help you take your mind off your worries. You need to know your priorities - and feeling happy is an important one.
If you find you’re too tired to think, aim to sleep seven to nine hours per night. Fatigue slows down your thinking processes. And to make changes, you need to use careful thought.
Above all, laugh! Find a joke that makes you laugh, watch a movie that makes you laugh, talk to a friend who makes you laugh. Laughter is a great medicine for stress.
“My work is never finished.” - a homemaker with four children.
Why do parents try to be super beings? What would happen if you were burnt out and couldn’t function at all? Who would do your work?
Take each day as it comes. Try not to be perfect. So there are some toys on the living room floor. What’s going to happen if you don’t pick them up for a day? Nothing. Make time to relax and plan something fun for yourself every day. One of my clients has organized a baby-sitter for two mornings a week. That’s the time she takes for herself. She works out, shops, has her hair done - all the things she didn’t want to take time off to do for herself; and she’s loving it. However, she had to work through a lot of guilt feelings in the beginning. Professional help may be necessary.
“My husband left me and I lost my job last week.” This is an extreme case. Look for professional help. Get references from friends, colleagues or your family doctor.
Dietitians study behavior modification and some psychology. We need to be up-to-date on effective counseling in order to be successful with our clients. Through studies and experience, dietitians help clients handle stress effectively. If a client’s problem is beyond our field, we send the individual to psychologists for therapy.
DAILY STEPS TO STOP STRESS
Let’s work on conquering out Stress Goals. Decide which is the most important goal you want to achieve. Write it down and refer to it every day. Work with one goal at a time.
Here is an example:
GOAL: To look forward to my work.
Obstacle: Work is boring.
FIRST STEP: Request more challenging work – put it in writing.
Achievement: Meeting with supervisor has been set.
SECOND STEP: Prepare my objectives in writing.
Achievement: Discuss objectives with supervisor. Ask for advice.
THIRD STEP: Follow advice and improve on it.
Achievement: Satisfaction from new challenge.
FOURTH STEP: Work at improving on project.
BENEFITS: Appreciation for initiative. Opportunity for advancement. Pay increase. Greater satisfaction and enjoyment. Feeling of achievement.
Write down your daily steps to stop stress. Read the benefits. Feel your life changing for the better!
GOAL – QUIT SMOKING
“Should I go on a macrobiotic diet to prevent cancer?” a friend asks me. “You smoke,” I say. “Yes, but that’s my only vice.” he tells me. I explained to him that there is no advantage in trying weird and wonderful diets if he intends to continue smoking. He says he feels guilty about smoking. He stops, but then, at a social gathering, someone offers him a cigarette and he starts again.
Feeling guilty is a miserable way to feel. How does he feel when he quits? I ask him. Fabulous. How does he feel when he smokes? Rotten! So how many rotten days does he want to have in the next week? Four? Five? None? If you have a choice between fabulous and rotten days, how many would you choose?
It doesn’t help to repeat warnings - “Smoking is the main cause of early deaths;” “One in five adult deaths are caused by smoking, not only from cancer, but also from heart and lung disease;” and so on. You’ve heard them all. You also know that the sooner you quit smoking the better for your health.
Fortunately, in New York City, smoking is banned in restaurants, public lounges, bars and dining halls. This makes eating out a joy, AND we don’t need to dry-clean our clothes after every social outing. Cities in other countries are bringing in these same laws.
SMOKING AND CANCER
When people think of cancers caused by smoking, the first one that comes to mind is always lung cancer. Cigarette smoking increases incidence of lung cancer death, close to 90 percent in men, and 80 percent in women.
Compared to nonsmokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and women who smoke are about 13 times more likely.
The 2004 Surgeon General's report newly identifies other cancers caused by smoking, including cancers of the stomach, cervix, kidney and pancreas.
“I only smoke on my verandah.” - Is this you? Does this make smoking okay?
Second-hand smoke is a serious matter. Taking it lightly is a selfish attitude. Second-hand smoke is a cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and breathing problems in young children and adults. What makes matters worse is you’re setting a bad example for your children.
An interesting finding - the second most common poison source, after medications, for children under age one, is cigarettes. According to research, it seems that those children actually consume cigarette butts or unsmoked cigarettes.
QUITTING SMOKING LEADS TO WEIGHT GAIN
“Every time I’ve given up smoking in the past, I’ve gained weight. So now I would rather smoke than be fat.” - Russell; secretary.
Russell came to me to lose 20 pounds in weight. He told me that he planned to quit smoking in the future but couldn’t handle two changes in his life at the same time. The memories of rapid weight gain the last time he quit were still painfully fresh.
I gave Russell a healthy meal plan and a plan to increase his activity. Nagging him about his smoking wouldn’t help as it was always in the back of his mind. When he had lost ten pounds, he decided on his own to lower his cigarette smoking from one pack a day to half a pack a day. He felt good about this change. By the time he had lost fifteen pounds, he was smoking five cigarettes a day. His attitude had changed. He developed a confidence to handle a smoke-free future. His healthier food intake and activity were becoming habits, so he did not have to focus on them anymore. He started focusing on the habit that annoyed him the most - his smoking. He has lost twenty pounds, quit smoking and feels wonderful! He comes to see me every month for follow-up sessions. He knows his lifelong habits can return if he becomes stressed or anxious. Checking in and keeping his awareness up will help Russell maintain his new healthy lifestyle.
“I’m tired of being a loser.” - the smoker’s lament.
Friends and strangers alike remind smokers that there’s a stigma attached to it. Smokers try to make excuses but they don’t feel good about it. What is most affected is their self-esteem. They feel that they can’t get control of their life and rid themselves of this dreadful habit. Now is the time to set your goal to stop smoking. Be determined to quit for the final time. Know that you can enjoy the rest of your life as a happy, healthy person, free at last from these chains. Follow your GOALS in this chapter. You can do it!
NAG, NAG, NAG
“Stop nagging me, I know.” Is that what you feel like screaming when your family, friends or health professionals tell you about the harm you’re doing yourself by smoking? You are not only reminded on television and on billboards, health warnings also appear on every cigarette packet. So what do they think you are? Stupid? You know what it’s doing to your body. You feel it every time you cough or puff your way up stairs. You’re just not ready to quit yet, you tell the critical voices. You know that when you’re ready, you’ll be able to stop.
When clients complete their health forms for me and admit they smoke, I always ask if they intend to give up at some time. Inevitably, they say yes! As mentioned earlier, following a healthy eating and activity routine means diddly-squat if you smoke. But if you decide to quit smoking, your healthy lifestyle will be given an enormous boost. Not only will everyone take your desire to quit smoking seriously for the first time, they’ll encourage you all the way.
Being active, such as committing to tennis lessons, gives you less time to smoke. Also drinking for men and coffee for women leads to an increase in social smoking. Choose your environment.”
“I CAN’T GET A DATE”
Single people complain it’s difficult to get a decent date. If you’re a smoker, it could be even more difficult. Even if you smoke on the sly, nonsmokers can smell it on you. Some nonsmokers have a saying, “Who would want to lick a dirty ashtray.” Imagine people saying that about you! You look good, dress well, have confidence, yet you have this small habit that alienates you from a large portion of society. You’ll just have to mix with smokers - but they’re getting scarcer and scarcer. Face it, you really are limiting yourself.
So many men have told me about the beautiful woman at a party whom they were dying to meet. Then she lit up. There was no point in even having a conversation with her, as the chances of dating her was suddenly nil. Some words of advice - don’t smoke if you’re single - you are making it that much more difficult to meet someone special for you. It may have been fashionable, chic, elegant or sophisticated to smoke some decades ago; it isn’t anymore.
“PLEASE DON’T TELL MY PARENTS”
“The reason I started smoking at fifteen was because of depression, after my boyfriend and I broke up. I smoke a pack a day. My friends are worried because we sit in the coffee shop at night and I chain-smoke for hours. I want to stop because I can’t breathe and it’s really expensive.” “I can’t believe my parents don’t know. They smell it on me and I tell them it’s from my friends and they believe me. I don’t like lying, but they’d be upset if they knew. I feel so ashamed that I have to lie.” “My mother noticed my yellow fingers, so I had to tell her that I smoked a lot during the summer. With school starting again, I won’t have so much time. Maybe I’ll try to stop altogether. I think I’d find it easier to stop gradually. I’m really scared of gaining weight.” “I think it’s best to stop ‘cold turkey. I know that’s the way I’ll stop. I think that works the best. You just have to handle it for three days then you’re okay. I smoke half a pack a day. I started at ten years when my older sister used to give me a cigarette. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to smoke. It brings you down, physically. It has affected my sports. I can’t breathe. I would stop for health reasons, if my doctor told me I should.” – teenager confessions to me.
Adolescents are ashamed of being smokers. They don’t want to tell their parents because they may hurt them or they may be reprimanded. Teenagers who come to see me want to give up smoking, but their peers pressure them into smoking. They have difficulty saying no and sticking to their decision. The teenage years constitute a time of emotional turmoil and adolescents don’t have the energy or maturity to be different from their friends. Their self-esteem may be low at this time and they want to be part of the “in” crowd. With time, they’ll acquire the strength and maturity to be proud of abstaining from this distasteful habit.
If you can quit on your own, that’s good. If you need help, consult your physician. Speak to family and friends who have quit; “born-again” nonsmokers are evangelical about giving advice. Go to www.cdc.gov for information. Get help from anyone - there are plenty of services and organizations that will support you in your efforts to “kick the habit.” Remember; focus on the fact that you are forming a healthy new habit, not a sense that you are depriving yourself.
When is the best time to quit smoking? How about now? Yes, right now! Take your cigarettes and throw them away. Throw them in the garbage and then put spaghetti sauce on top of them so that you cannot scrounge for them later! Now go for an invigorating walk. When you return, plan the rest of the day. Make sure you’re doing things that keep you very busy, things that you enjoy. You’ll forget about smoking. Okay, I’m wrong - this is difficult, after all. But it’s your first try and you’re going to repeat it over and over again. You will gradually become more successful, which will motivate you to carry on. Keep trying every day. Each day it will become easier, but quitting does require focus and constant willpower. You can do it! You’re going to follow the DAILY STEPS TO YOUR GOAL and read it to yourself every waking hour. You’ll also read the IMMEDIATE BENEFITS to remind yourself that you’re feeling wonderful about your progress.
The following is an example of a way to quit smoking. You need to plan the way that would suit you the best, the one that will work for you.
DAILY STEPS TO MY SMOKE FREE GOAL
GOAL: To quit smoking
MAIN OBSTACLE: Increased addiction under stress
FIRST STEP: See physician
ACHIEVEMENT: Advice from physician. Feeling of hope.
SECOND STEP: Decide to stop smoking immediately. Avoid socializing with smokers.
ACHIEVEMENT: Better breathing, weight is stable, feel good.
THIRD STEP: Plan healthy snacks. Keep busy. Relax.
ACHIEVEMENT: Less desire to smoke. Feel healthier.
FOURTH STEP: Increase activity.
Less defensive attitude.
No guilty feelings.
No bad smell.
Better use of time instead of taking smoking breaks.
Less breathlessness after workouts.
CHECKLIST TO REDUCE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING CANCER
∗ Quit smoking
∗ Eat less fat
∗ Eat more fiber-containing foods
∗ Eat several servings of fruits and vegetables each day
∗ Maintain ideal weight
∗ Minimize your consumption of smoked, nitrite-cured and salted foods (ham, bacon, wieners, bologna and smoked or pickled fish)
∗ If alcohol is consumed, have a limit of two or fewer drinks per day
SMOKING AND ALCOHOL - A QUADRUPLE WHAMMY FOR ORAL CANCER!
If you smoke and drink alcohol, your risk for contracting mouth cancer increases significantly. By consuming one drink per day, your risk for oral cancer increases 60 percent more than nondrinker’s. If you smoke one packet of cigarettes per day, your risk for oral cancer increases 52 percent more than a nonsmoker’s. However, if you have one drink plus one packet of cigarettes per day, your risk for oral cancer increases 400 percent more than an abstainer’s. These figures are frightening. Assimilate them into your consciousness and don’t harm yourself anymore.
Quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake NOW!