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Nurses, like anyone, can get caught up in the cycle of nicotine abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 18 out of every 100 adults in the United States smoke cigarettes. Many smokers start in their teens, so even though a nurse is fully aware of the health consequences, quitting is not an easy task, especially when you have a high stress job.
The nursing community has a responsibility to be advocates for patients and that includes setting a good example. The American Nurses Association encourages nurses to find a way to live tobacco free. Through the HealthyNurse initiative, they are giving you the tools you need to get there. Consider four additional tips to help you live a life free from the burden of your nicotine addiction.
If you have been smoking on the job for years, then you might have to find another motivation to quit. It needs to be something more powerful than your urge to smoke. For example, a new baby or grandchild may push you to work harder at quitting. When you want a smoke break, drop by the nursery instead to remind yourself why you need to stop.
If a new family member isn’t on your horizon, make a list of patient cases that involved smoking or second hand smoke. Jot down a few notes on your phone or in a notebook. You can pull this out and read through it when you feel the need to light up.
If you know other nurses that smoke, try to convince them to join you in your quest to be smoke-free. This buddy system allows you to support each other during your shifts and improves your chances of success. Instead of taking a smoke break, pair up to take a walk around the hospital or sit down and talk about ways to manage stress during your shifts.
What are you normally doing when you light up? Sitting in the smoking area outside the building? Having a cup of coffee? Figure out what habitual activities trigger your need to smoke and find ways to avoid them. For example, if you normally have a cigarette after you eat, then try brushing your teeth instead. This allows you to use your hands and refreshes your breath. The satisfaction may help you avoid the usual cigarette.
There are countless apps that can help you quit, a large number of them completely free. Download one of these to help track your progress (including how much money you're saving.)
Figure out how much money you normally spend each day on cigarettes. Start transferring that much into a separate savings account every week and watch it grow.
Decide how you are going to use the money you save, preferably to buy something you have been wanting but couldn’t afford as a smoker. You can picture a new phone, outfit or tech device every time look at your bank account to reinforce the behavior.
Ultimately, you do it for your health and your family. Smoking increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and COPD. Second hand smoke exposes the people you love to a higher risk of chronic disease, as well. Nurses may be superheroes, but they are still only human, so don’t go it alone. Nicotine is a difficult addiction to break, make use of all the resources at your disposal to get smoke free this year.