Christina Crook, 32, needed more than a reason to stop smoking – she needed to find a new way to manage the stress that kept her from kicking the habit.
“I always wanted to quit but came up with excuses,” she said. “I knew I needed to quit for myself, for my health, for my children. But there was a mental block.”
Christina’s path to becoming smoke-free began in earnest two years ago when she made a pro and con list about smoking. The cons were obvious and mostly health related, but the pros were somewhat surprising even to her and almost entirely related to her role as a caregiver. Christina came to realize that smoking gave her a break from the stress she felt caring for her husband, a veteran who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Christina had been a smoker for more than a decade when she left her job as the supervisor of a bank, in September 2013, to care full-time for her husband after he attempted suicide. Looking back, though, she recognizes that she was a caregiver for her entire family long before she left work, and that smoking always gave her some much needed stress relief, along with the time she needed to enjoy quiet moments to herself.
After thinking through the pros and cons on her list, Christina decided it was time to make a change, especially because she’d also noticed a decline in her health. She knew that she had to start taking care of herself so that she could take better care of her husband and kids.
So, she quit smoking cold turkey. And since then, she has taken control by carving out time to do healthy things instead of smoke.
She still keeps a hectic schedule -- helping prepare her husband and three young children for the day, driving her husband to Veterans Affairs appointments and administering his medications, acting as a Girl Scout leader, and making sure everyone gets settled in at the end of the day.
But now, whenever she needs a moment for herself, she takes a run around her neighborhood. Since she quit smoking, she’s cut two minutes off her mile time. She eats sunflower seeds when she has the impulse to smoke. And when she needs a reminder of why she quit, she opens the Kwit app on her iPhone, which shows her how far she’s come, how much money she’s saved, and how her health has improved.
Her husband smokes, but is committed to quitting. There’s no doubt that Christina will be there for him with support and love.
Christina explained that smoking cessation is a journey, and it isn’t without its hurdles and challenges. But at the end of the day, seeing her kids’ admiration and pride in her progress makes it all worth it.
“I built it up, but it’s so much easier to quit smoking than I thought it would be. And now I feel great,” she said.