Alyssa White, of Merewether Heights, smoked for 20 years, before giving up a few years ago.
Ms White, 45, started smoking socially at university. It became a habit and an “everyday necessity”.
She smoked a packet of 20 to 25 cigarettes a day. She decided to quit to “feel healthy and be the best mum I could be for my young daughters”.
To quit, she did a lot of planning to prepare mentally. This included being mindful of the health and financial costs of the habit.
“I set a date and stuck to it. I made it for the start of a road-trip holiday, so I could concentrate on having fun in new locations each day rather than smoking,” she said.
“I used patches for a short time, until their itchiness outweighed the cravings. Then it came down to determination and positive support from family.”
She changed some behaviours that she associated with smoking.
“I substituted coffee with peppermint tea for a short time, until I had broken my habitual cigarette/coffee association,” she said.
“Quitting was much easier than I thought it would be. My daughters, with their own positive language, were my best motivators.”
Her daughters used positive language like, “my mum doesn't need cigarettes anymore, she quit”.
This was opposed to most adults who say “are you quitting?”.
“My daughters were very supportive, reminding me how proud they were of me for not smoking,” she said.
“It's amazing how positive language can influence and reinforce our behaviour. I didn't want to let them down by picking it up again. It made the decision to stop very simple.”
She was determined not to fail.
“The biggest factor for me was not letting my daughters down. How can I encourage them to be the best people they can be, if I can't show them that it is possible to change our ways, even if it is difficult at times?” she said.
“As it became easier and easier, I felt more confident that I could control my choices, and not let an addiction control me.”
While smoking, she had developed a chronic cough and had previously been prone to colds and chest infections.
“I was lucky in that I felt the positive health effects pretty soon thereafter. The first year after I quit, I had a whole winter with no cold or cough and couldn't have felt better,” she said.
She now sees cigarettes as poison.
“I’m glad I realised before it was too late,” she said.
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