It’s no secret – nursing can be stressful. Whether you’re dealing with a patient about to code or two new admits at the same time, there are days your stress meter goes through the roof. We all sometimes turn to unhealthy habits to relieve stress and smoking may is one of them.
As a nurse, you know all the health risks associated with smoking. You are well aware that smoking can contribute to heart disease and increase your chances of developing lung cancer and COPD. But there are other adverse effects of smoking you may not have considered, such as the following:
Smoking Makes You Age Faster: If you’re over the age of 21, the thought of looking older is probably not that appealing. Smoking increases the normal aging process of your skin. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels, which means fewer nutrients and less oxygen get to your skin. Some of the chemicals in cigarettes also damage elastin and collagen, which causes your skin to wrinkle and sag prematurely.
Increases Infertility: Whether you are a guy or a gal, smoking is not good for baby making. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility rates in smokers are about twice as high as in nonsmokers. Cigarette smoke may damage egg quality and interfere with regular ovulation. In men, smoking can lower sperm counts and decrease motility, all of which can make conceiving more difficult.
Cost: If you add up the money you might spend on cigarettes in a month, it can get a little depressing. Although the cost of cigarettes varies from a little over $5 a pack to more than $12, smoking is not cheap. For the average pack-a-day smoker, that adds up to anywhere from $2,000 a year to over $4,000 a year. Think about what you could do with that money.
Smoking Ruins Your Pearly Whites: Nothing ruins your smile faster, then cigarette- stained teeth. But smoking not only stains your teeth dark yellow, but it can also increase your risk of cavities and gum disease. It’s also a big cause of bad breath.
You know the best thing you can do is give up smoking. In fact, you may have taken care of patients who you counseled to quit smoking, But why is breaking the habit so hard to do yourself? It could be that smoking is one way you relax. Do you ever take a smoke break with your co-workers and vent about your day? Maybe smoking is something that helps you calm down. But the bottom line is smoking is addictive.
Like any addiction, it can be hard to give it up. Although it’s not always easy to kick the habit, quitting is worth the effort. The benefits of quitting start to occur quickly. Within about 12 hours after your last cigarettes, your carbon monoxide levels are back to normal. If you go three months without a cigarette, your lung function should start to improve.
If 2016 is the year you are going to stop smoking, here are several things you can do to increase your chances of success.
Utilize technology: Download a free smoking app to prevent you from lighting up. A smoking cessation app provides daily text messages of encouragement, tips from others to remain smoke-free and access to smoking cessation counseling 24/7. Whether you’re working overnight and want a smoke break at 3 a.m., or need to fight the craving to light up after work, a smoking cessation app provides immediate support on the go. We recommend Smoke Free (iPhone / Android), Kwit (iPhone / Android), or LIVESTRONG My Quit Coach (iPhone only) but there are many other options available too.
Make yourself accountable: Tell everyone! From your co-workers to your Facebook friends, let them all know that you’re quitting smoking. Even ask one of your smoke buddies at work to quit with you. It will help keep you in check to have someone else quit alongside you. Letting people know you’re kicking the habit not only can provides you with the support you need, it makes you accountable.
Attend a smoking cessation class: Sure, you may know all about the damages of cigarettes smoking and all the benefits of quitting, but a smoking cessation class can also provide tips and suggestions on ways to beat cravings, avoid smoking triggers and deal with withdrawals. Keep in mind, many hospitals offer smoking cessation classes free for their employees.
Consider your options: Fortunately, there are different options when it comes to quitting smoking. If you are an all-or-nothing type of person, you may want to go cold turkey. If you need a little help, nicotine gum, patches, and sprays are all great options. A couple of different prescription medications are also available. Some people find success using alternative methods including hypnosis or acupuncture.
Persevere: If you’re making a commitment to quit smoking in 2016, congrats! It’s a great step to improve your health. But even someone with the best intentions sometimes takes a step backward. So if you find yourself slipping a bit and having a cigarette, don’t give up. With a little support, discipline and perseverance, you can quit and remain smoke-free.
As nurses, we spend most of our lives taking care of others, but we often overlook our own well-being. Let’s make this the year you leave bad habits at the door and work towards a newer, fresher you.