After quitting smoking 14 days before the beginning of quarantine (great but challenging timing for such a step), I found myself three months later appreciating one habit I used to have and that I would advise anyone to take from smokers.
Being locked down is probably one of the most stressful experiences we had to go through. After ten weeks of quarantine, and twelve weeks going smoke-free, I found myself in the rooftop of my building smoking a cigarette. I had surrendered to the temptation to calm my anxiety with a puff of a cigarette. Luckily I have been more immersed in meditation practice since the beginning of the lockdown and became more aware of the ways to listen to my body’s messages and needs. After two days of my slight deviation, I gave up that bad habit again to refocus on my health. It was enough motivating that we are mainly in lockdown to protect ourselves from a disease affecting our lunges, among other things, so – couldn’t have worse decision than by deciding to make myself sick voluntarily.
One week has passed, and I am still going to the roof of my building. Yes, because I noticed that there were three benefits in the “smokers” behavior habits I wanted to keep:
- Having multiple breaks:
I am that addict 20 cigarettes a day smoker that used to need to light up a cigarette 30 minutes after waking up, and going out for a break at least every 2h if not more, especially before starting something: a meeting, a call, writing a piece of content or after finishing a pitch. Smokers have rituals celebrating, launching, and ending anything and everything. In being a non-smoker, it is stressing to sit at a desk (or in the bed, let’s be honest, we all did this during quarantine at least once) while it is terrible for our health. Not only it’s good to get small breaks to rest our minds but also for our posture and physical wellbeing, we are actually advised to do some movements at least every 2 hours. So there you go, let’s take it from the smokers and have a short walk in between a meeting and an assignment (aka today’s zoom call and budget negotiation)
- Enjoying fresh air:
When you smoke, you… are exposed to a lot of health issues, in addition to the toxic components in the cigarette that might not be threatening enough you are actually the perfect candidate for flu and cold when you also have to go out a lot which is not convenient on freezing day of January in New York City for example. But one thing is sure, after my small couple of days weakness during quarantine, I found out that one of the things that were distressing me was not related to the smoking itself but to the fact to go outside especially for the cigarette of the morning and being in the open air. So either we are operating from an office or working from home, taking small breaks, going outdoor for 3 minutes makes a healthy habit of refreshing the mind. A real good recreation with a short break to unwind the mind and get the body moving and also practice some self-care by allowing some personal time during a busy day.
Finally, last but not least, unfortunately, smoking involves that awful necessity of inhaling (really deeply) the puff of the cigarette and exhaling the so cliche smoke, read here literally breathing poison. But in this contemplation process of using a trigger to transform a harmful habit to create a healthier one rather than just going back to normal and creating a new normal, I naturally draw a parallel. In the new normal days, I go out, spending 3 minutes intentionally deeply inhaling and exhaling even with a puff or real blow. A new habit that, combined with the practice of meditation, helps every one to get centered, relax, be more present at the moment, and reduce anxiety.
Put the cigarettes aside, smokers go outside 30 minutes to 1 hour after they wake up, spend 3 or 5 minutes inhaling and exhaling and then keep doing so between 5 times to 20 times a day. It has been a week I have been going outside few times a day, climbing some stairs, breathing fresh air, getting away from the desk, sometimes even enjoy some self-centering with deep breathing and get back to work. It has been a real transformative habit keeping my intellect, body, and mood fresh, focused, and unwinded.