A quick reminder of why giving up is good for you…
These days we all know it’s bad to smoke, or to drink to excess. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to give up.
So if you’ve been thinking of abstaining from alcohol or stubbing out your cigarette habit, here are five reasons to help spur you on:
1. You’ll feel the benefits straight away
Psychologically, removing those crutches may be hard to start with, but you won’t have to wait long to start feeling the health benefits of zero-tobacco and no (or much less) alcohol.
After just eight hours from having your last cigarette, your nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in your blood will reduce by more than half. You’ll breathe more easily, and have more oxygen circulating in your system, which will leave you feeling more healthy and energetic too.
And alcohol is a depressant, even if it gives you an artificial ‘high’ while you’re having a drink. So when you do cut down or go tee-total, you’ll get a sense of being on a more even keel. It’s also quite common to see that you’re sleeping better, or that you’ve lost a bit of weight too.
2. You can start enjoying your food more
After two days of giving up smoke and alcohol, your body will be completely free of nicotine – and you’re unlikely to have that ‘hangover’ feeling, too.
What’s more, while you may not notice it while you’re a smoker, the chemicals and toxins in nicotine products have a habit of dulling your sense of taste and smell. Stop smoking and you can start enjoying your food again!
3. Your lung capacity will improve
If you manage to go without a cigarette for a couple of months, you're bound to notice some more significant differences to your body. For a start, your lung capacity will improve - allowing you to take deeper breaths and making it easier to participate in exercise and strenuous activity.
And after you get past any withdrawal symptoms, you’ll usually find it’s easier to deal with symptoms of stress. Subtle cravings can put you on edge for a couple of days, but when you focus on something positive – your improved health – those anxiety levels should disappear.
4. You’ll cut your chances of life-threatening conditions
You'll already know that smoking and drinking increases your chances of developing serious illnesses and conditions. Cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia and impotence – to name but six.
But what you may not know is how quickly you can reduce your chances of developing these conditions – simply by giving up.
If you completely give up smoking then your risk of heart disease is 50% lower just one year after quitting.
And if you give up drinking, the risk of developing cancer reduces quickly. For instance, a study has shown that the risk of mouth and throat cancers drops dramatically in heavy drinkers who stop drinking.
5. And you’ll look better, too!
Smokers tend to look much older than they are because of the effects toxins have on their complexion. So if you quit, your skin will thank you – as it will be able to absorb nutrients and oxygen much more effectively. Nicotine stains your fingers and teeth too, so your physical appearance should also benefit quite a lot when you pack in.
As for alcohol, you probably already know that drinking can give you a ‘beer belly’. But you might not have realised quite how fattening it can be.
If you’re a woman, two large glasses of wine equates to nearly a quarter of your recommended daily calorie intake (not to mention half of your recommended weekly limit for regular alcohol consumption).
And if you’re a man, having just a couple of pints amounts to the same as swallowing a full tub of single cream. If you drink five pints of lager a week, that adds up to 44,200 calories over a year – the same as eating 221 doughnuts.
You can get more information about quitting smoking at Smoke Free, and about giving up drinking at Drink Aware. Whether you’re planning on giving up completely or just cutting back a little depends on your priorities in life. Either way, the reasons why you should make a real go of it are there for all to see.