Shauna Strutt volunteered to be a Quit leader to encourage her HSE colleagues to kick the habit with her back in March as part of the 28-day Quit challenge.
Just nine days into her quit journey, a global pandemic hit – but Shauna resisted the temptation to return to her old habits. Now she is urging people to join the latest 28-day challenge. If you stop smoking for 28 days, you are five times more likely to quit for good.
“I made sure to tell everyone and anyone back in March that I was quitting and that really helped because it was a constant case of peer support. I didn’t want to let anyone down,” said Shauna.
As well as the obvious stresses of COVID-19, she also started a busy new role as Personal Assistant to the Area Director of Mental Health Nursing, DNCC. But the increase in workload was actually a welcome distraction for Shauna, who is now over 10 months smoke-free.
“I took up a promotion in work which threw me right into the thick of COVID-19 management so to be honest it was almost the perfect time to give up because I was so busy,” she said.
It was the boredom of lockdown that presented the biggest challenge to Shauna and her quit efforts.
“Very rarely, and mostly at the weekends, it was the boredom that was the toughest thing to face, especially when we were in lockdown. There wasn’t much to do and was very easy to almost give in and treat myself with a cigarette because I was working hard and I deserved it; etc,” she explained.
“The temptation was there definitely, and I’ll be honest I did have a slip or two when everything got on top of me at the start but I didn’t enjoy it at all and was more annoyed at myself and disappointed in myself for that so it kept me off them then.”
The boredom aside, the nationwide lockdown, proved to be a blessing in disguise.
“To be honest, I think the fact that the pubs were closed was a boost. I’m a divil for smoking with a few drinks so to not be put in that situation was great,” she said.
Distraction was the key for Shauna as she was determined to stay away from cigarettes.
“If I was sitting on the couch and got a craving I’d get up and move to a different room and do something. If I was in the car, I’d higher up the radio and belt along to whatever song was playing - I apologise if anyone had to witness that. If I was in work I’d get up and fill my water or make a coffee. I just tried to keep it out of my head. I made myself accountable also and I told everyone who would listen that I was giving up so that they could support me,” she said.
As we all respond to this national emergency and learn to live with COVID-19, it is now more important than ever that we look after our health and the health of our families.
If you smoke, now might not seem like the right time to quit, but quitting smoking now is one of the most important things you could do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 and to help you recover if you do.
There are lots of practical tools, tips and support to quit available at Quit.ie or freecall the Quitline on 1800 201 203 to speak to a Stop Smoking Advisor.
Make 2020 the year you quit for good.