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Mark Richardson decided to quit smoking after a very short cycle left him in a fit of coughing.
The 24-year-old farmer had been smoking since he was 18 but the coughing fit gave him motivation to quit cigarettes once and for all, as he recalls.
"I went out on a short cycle, and I’m not as fit as I used to be anyway, but I remember going on the same cycle as a kid and just flying up and down. I wasn’t even able to make it halfway without a coughing fit. It was the first time I realised it was down to smoking."
Mark had tried quitting before, multiple times, but had only ever got to three days or so before going back on the cigarettes.
This time Mark was determined and he turned to the Quit team for help with quitting. He found that with help from his girlfriend, friends and the support of the website, he was able to keep up the momentum.
There were a number of factors that influenced Mark’s decision to quit including the long-term financial benefits. The email reminders from Quit every morning telling him how long he’d been off cigarettes for and how much he’d saved was a great incentive not to go back on them.
Mark has noticed an improvement in his breathing and general energy levels.
"I do feel better, I have more energy, definitely. I do feel I’m not as drained and I’m not coughing as much during the day, even while exercising."
He’s exercising more than he used to before and finds exercise a great help in dealing with the cravings – distracting him from them for up to an hour at a time. And the savings haven’t hurt, either.
"This time it was a bit easier because my friends, even the smokers, were very supportive, and even if you ask for a cigarette now, they wouldn’t give you one."
Using the tips on Quit.ie helped a lot too – from the four D’s (distract yourself, delay the cravings, taking a deep breath, and drink water), to calling the Quit helpline and chatting with the support team there. Mark found that the Quit team helped him to analyse his smoking triggers and put practices in place to break those habits.
"I spoke to them one day. They were helpful in how to deal with cravings, like to take deep breaths, drink water. They asked me when was I most likely to smoke, and for me it was in the morning, in the afternoon, and with friends.
So I tried to change my routine in the morning… to try something different. I work from home, so I changed what I did first thing in the morning to change the habit."
Mark found telling his friends that ‘this is it, I’m definitely quitting this time’ also made a huge difference.
"The best way to tackle quitting is day by day; remembering that you managed not to smoke the day before is a great incentive not to smoke today. Additionally it helps to count up all the little victories that you achieve over the day – from distracting yourself from a craving to saying no to the offer of a cigarette, especially when you’re going through a hard day.
Every time you resist asking a friend for one, or resist going into the shop to buy a pack after a hard day is a little victory."
Mark stresses that it wasn’t one bolt of inspiration or determination that kept him off the cigarettes, rather a combination of tips and support that helped him to keep going, even when things are hard.
"It is all helpful. When they’re telling you the tips you think, ‘Oh I know that already’ but when you’re dealing with a craving you do think ‘Oh this helped me or that helped me’. Even having chewing gum in your pocket is handy. If you’re thinking about having a cigarette, have some chewing gum instead."