For many, October signals Stoptober, a chance to quit smoking for the whole month – if not for good. We all know the health hazards that smoking causes, but once addicted, it's an uphill battle to break the habit. To mark Stoptober, we challenged two women to give up smoking and share their experience with us. From trying electronic cigarettes or vapes, to undergoing a course of hypnotherapy, discover how our willing volunteers get on in their weekly blogs.
Arianna Salenius, 23, lives in London where she works as an account manager. She has been a smoker for seven years and is starting Stoptober by substituting cigarettes for a vape. But will she be able to put down the vape too by the end of the month?
"I was right… I hate to admit it but I was right. I’ve come to the horrible conclusion that with wine comes smoking. For me, anyway. I’ve slipped up a couple of times this week whilst drinking and although I feel guilty about it, it’s actually given me a bit of a wake-up call! What's surprised me is that after not smoking a real cigarette for so long, they now taste horrible and are completely unappealing – so in a way slipping up was helpful, right?!
Despite the minor faux pas, I am still really keen to give up for good. I’m still vaping, but the difference is that now I’m not waiting for the next opportunity to vape and I don’t feel like I’m going to go mad if the opportunity doesn’t come.
One of the key benefits I’ve found from giving up smoking, is that I want to look after myself more in other aspects too. I’ve kept up with the gym and have cut down on drinking. My skin’s cleared up (a bit) and my lungs feel so much clearer.
The real challenge now is to ignore the cravings and keep these healthy benefits in mind. Fingers crossed!"
Hannah Gee, 33, lives in Surrey and works in London as an account manager. Hannah has smoked for 20 years and is hoping to quit for good, with the help of a hypnotherapist.
"So here I am, on day 11, and I can honestly say I still haven’t had a single cigarette. Trust me, I’m more surprised than anyone!
What’s more, I’m still enjoying all my usual hobbies. There was a time where I couldn’t have imagined drinking a glass (ok, bottle) of wine without smoking at the same time, but now the opposite is true!
Admittedly I’ve been drinking less this week and already I’m noticing the benefits; food tastes better, walking up stairs no longer leaves me breathless and red in the face, and my skin appears less oily.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Derren Brown and even went to see one of his live shows. For two hours I watched people do things that they wouldn’t normally do – one person ate glass! I remember thinking the whole time that they must have been part of the act. Or just liked eating glass. In the back of my mind, I questioned whether any of it was real. I wondered if hypnosis actually worked – and, if it did, whether it could be used to help someone kick a long-term habit.
Last week I did some online research into how hypnotherapy can help people to quit smoking, and the results were incredible. There were so many testimonies from former smokers who had tried and tested other ways to quit. Nothing had worked for them – apart from hypnotherapy. So I took the plunge. I found a clinic online that specialised in this form of treatment and booked myself in!
After arriving I was greeted by my therapist, Rory. He instantly made me feel at ease, and he didn’t look anything like Derren Brown! Rory sat me down and, for a good 30 minutes, we talked. I had 101 questions that I wanted to ask him. Will it hurt? How long will I be under for? Is it even going to work? Will you be using a pendulum?!
But instead, he asked me the questions. He wanted to find out how and when I started smoking, how smoking made me feel, and what it was about smoking that I enjoyed. We then talked about the science behind it all. I could have spoken to him for hours, learning all about the conscious and subconscious parts of the human brain; why habits are created and where they stem from. It was fascinating.
Then it was time. He asked me to lie down, close my eyes and count back from 500. After what felt like five minutes, Rory told me to open my eyes. I vaguely remember that, while I was counting backwards, he was talking to me – about what though I couldn’t possibly tell you!
When I left his office I instantly felt more aware of everything that was around me. I didn’t even think about smoking, and when I did think about it, I didn’t reach for a cigarette, I didn’t have a craving, I just thought of myself as a non-smoker. And it felt great!"
Check back next week to discover how Arianna and Hannah are faring in their quest to quit. Feeling inspired to break the habit too? Check out our Stoptober infographic which reveals all the ways it can benefit your health - and your wallet.