Signs of Improvement

When I last wrote on this blog, I’d just dropped one bad habit…

Cutting out cigarettes, an addiction that had ruled my day-to-day existence for half a century, was one of the biggest challenges that I have had to face – and this is coming from a man who’s met his fair share of troubled characters and addicts.

I wouldn’t dream of comparing my cravings for nicotine with the withdrawal symptoms that a serious drug abuser goes through on a daily basis, but I would say that I perhaps have had a glimpse into this world at the very least.

Now that it’s been nearly nine months since I smoked my last cigarette, I can start talking about the positive impacts that going nicotine-free has had on my life and how cutting out smoking might be just the thing to improve your overall health and happiness.

Although I was advised to keep writing this blog throughout the quitting process, there was a part of me that felt like it would be tempting fate to spending time every day focusing on the act of smoking. When friends and relatives ask me for advice and some enlightenment as to ‘how I did it’, I struggle to pick out one particular thing that got me through the ordeal. One thing I would say is that I’m fortunate enough to live in one of the most relaxing places in the UK: Glastonbury.

Aside from when the annual music festival is on at Pilton, blasting out music until the early hours of the morning, this is an incredibly peaceful part of the world to call home.

Despite the town being quite the tourist hot spot throughout the year, Glastonbury has managed to retain the country charm that has typified Somerset life for the majority of the 20th Century and it’s this idyllic setting that has helped me stay smoke-free for well over eight months now.

Out here, with the proud Tor looking down onto us like a genial Grandfather, the nights are crisp and cool in the winter, but the greenness of the land is never fully sapped away, even when the days are at their shortest. There were some times when the going got tough though. As I’m sure many other ex-smokers will confirm, the times when your resolve are tested the most are usually social situations. For me, it meant that I had to say goodbye to my weekly trips down to the local pub. I’d spent years of my life ending my working week with a trip down The King Arthur, it was almost like a second home to me and the patrons there were like my second family.

The first time I attempted to go in there, after my inaugural week of quitting, I only lasted about 10 minutes.

The smell of freshly poured pints, pub grub and, worst of all, cigarettes, proved to be maddeningly tempting – I left in a cold sweat with my bemused friends looking on. I saw it as a significant sign of progress when I spent a good hour there last weekend. Where once just the mere smell of the pub would have me crawling out of my skin, I can now happily sit in The King Arthur with a pint and catch-up with all my friends that I’ve sorely missed for the last few months.

Other than missing my fair share of pub quizzes, it looks like I didn’t miss out on too much since my time away and at least I can breathe a little easier now!