A bit more than 15 years ago I quit smoking - and I've never touched a cigarette again.
...Which i say today with a smile, but I still remember how hard it was at that time.
I'd also dare to say that smoking is not necessarily the "worst" addiction to quit.
Well, it's difficult to say which one is worse, after all... Quitting any addiction is hard and can be confusing, it brings you on slippery grounds - and anyone who takes the courage to say a serious, assumed NO to an addictive behavior deserves a hearty congrats.
You are about to regain your freedom - freedom you may actually still hesitate if you want or not... But hang in there, as even that is part of the process.
Years after I quitted smoking, I also quitted coffee and sugar (in all its refined forms).
...And I found out, on my own skin, that what I knew just in theory was very true: no matter the type of addictive behavior one is struggling with, the addiction mechanism remains the same.
Some addictive behaviors can sound less dangerous than others, but what they all have in common is that they will impact your life in a destructive way, and will play on your health, emotional stability, mind focus and will power. Also, from a health point of you, they will all put your hormonal system in a weak position, creating internal chaos.
Now, the good news is that it is possible to deactivate them following the exact same rules.
No matter that we talk about alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, gambling, phone addiction, computer games, sugar, coffee or work... once you learn the mechanism it will become clear what to do, and that will make you stronger, help you understand yourself better and give you more control.
Today, as a nutritionist and coach, I know a few things I wish I'd known 15 years ago, when I was struggling to quit smoking - especially while going through the first 3-4 clean weeks, and then the first clean year.
And I'd like to share them with the ones out there fighting their own battles.
I hope they will inspire you, make your fight easier and your struggle less heavy.
No, the process won't be easier - but YOU will just be stronger!
Learning how to eat balanced, for each day you have ahead, meaning eating in function of what's on your schedule the following 3-4 hours, is crucial.
Having enough protein in each meal, good fats and the correct amount of carbs your body needs to burn in the few hours after a certain meal (in function of your planned agenda) will STABILIZE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR.
When your blood sugar is stable, your emotions will remain balanced and your mind will focus better.
And when your emotions are stable, you will be able to say NO more confidently, you will not tremble. And if you will, you will also regain balance way faster.
Don't forget: sugar IS addictive, in itself. And sadly, it will feed all your other addictions. Why, how?
It puts your body in defence and it triggers the insuline response, affecting your hormonal balance.
And your hormonal balance, now disturbed, will simply control your emotions, and make it REALLY HARD for you to say NO, no matter how much you want it. One more thing: alcohol IS sugar, with an intoxicant effect added.
In consequence, if you want to fight ANY ADDICTION, you must be on top of your sugar consumption. You must understand how much sugar you need and when - because not consuming enough sugar (and I mean good sugar, not the refined one!) will also influence your level of energy and mind focus.
You may think that this is too complicated - but in reality, it's just one more skill to learn, and it will give you great power.
Did you know, for example, that being low in Zn/ Cu brings apprehension?
Or, did you know that people suffering of anemia (Fe deficiency) often manifest depression, not to mention unexplained fatigue and lack of focus? (And ironically, many times they actually take medication for their depression, without fixing their anemia?...)
Did you know that enough Mg will allow you to recover faster, sleep better and will just make you calmer? (amongst others benefits...)
Etc., etc. ...
Long story short: having enough of certain micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) will make your body stronger, and place you in a stronger position to fight your addiction, too.
(You may need to take a blood test to make sure your body has everything it needs in order to function optimally, and supplement if needed. Please, please, don't supplement blindly!!)
DEHYDRATION: is a very serious risk, placing your body under stress, in defense, and with the potential to affect your organs, energy, mind and emotions at many levels.
So, make sure you stay well hydrated.
As you can see, you may have consider that your will power was fully dependent on your mind - but actually, what we call "will power" and determination are a lot made in ...our stomachs!
So many technics and paths to follow, so many books and articles and practices out there - where to start, and how to choose the one that will help YOU best?!
It is confusing, in many situations.
Well, there's a lot to say, but here I'd keep it very short: focusing on your breath and/or on body sensations will bring your attention to the present moment. And when you stay in the present moment, your addiction loses its power, fades away.
Whenever you're faced with a crisis moment, no matter where you are or with whom, you always have your body and breathing with you.
...And no, it is not necessary to be in a classical meditation body position to find focus and to practice, and you can do it anywhere.
Just watch your body sensations, moment to moment: craves and clinge will disappear.
You will, however, need to practice. And the more you practice, the stronger and more focused you will become. You'll actually start fighting any addictive behavior ...by default.
If you don't know how to start, get guidance, do practice with supervision in the beginning. It is not complicated, and it will bring you benefits in all areas of your life.
"Rewriting the CD" is a job that requires consistency and belief.
Psychological studies showed black on white for many years now that "deleting", deactivating an addictive routine (or any routine, for that matter!) is actually harder than modifying and replacing it.
And modifying it proves to have very clear, simple steps to take.
Why then, so many people continue to fail?! It is because there's too much information out there, too many combined techniques and even the simple, clear steps become confusing.
Keeping it simple is key: detect what stimulates the behavior (introspection) and what is the desired reward (emotionally or physically related usually, a sensation or feeling).
Then think how to replace what's in between the two and brings you the same sensation and feeling as reward (= the addictive behavior).
You can go through the process on your own or with a coach, but it is a crucial aspect to reflect to, and it will help you knowing yourself better.
Have no doubt: implementing change is just something else to learn how to do - but then you'll need the consistency again.
Do believe in yourself! ...And work on your food and mind training as described above, as they will make the process tremendously more effective.
Relaxation is lately just such an overused word, taken way too seriously. It almost gets to be a pressure to... relax :)
And there's so much out there that one can do to relax, and we're all so different... and relaxation will only work profoundly if one respects their own preferences.
From a good body stretching to a (self) massage, from listening to our favorite music to a creative activity (painting, handcraft etc.), from simply taking a bath to enjoying a tea... One of my favorite ways to relax is calm walking in the nature, I find it recharging more than anything else. Nature has a lot to give us, if we allow ourselves to create the time to accept it.
In any case, whatever you choose, be creative, and find what's relaxing for you each day, in function of the needs, possibilities and schedule of that very day.
At the end, just take some time for yourself, in whatever way you find it comforting.
I hope the above gives you ideas and reassures you.
If you need help to find a more balanced nutrition path, to put in place the pieces in a change mechanism, or to develop a
mind training/ meditation practice - or if you are simply in doubt about your current practices, get in touch, I'll be honored to assist you.
If you have questions about the process, you can call me at 0489 189 036.
Stay CALM, CONFIDENT & PATIENT - and take just one step at a time:
you WILL win your battle!