SMOKING HAS BECOME MY MORNING MEDITATION: How To Break Bad Habits When You're Stuck in a Slew of Them

Stop the cycle of self-destruction and move on with your life like a person who actually cares about your own wellbeing.

Mar 17, 2014 at 2:00pm | Leave a comment

If you've been wondering where I've been for the past two and half months -- should you remember me, or care at all -- I've been smoking cigarettes dramatically off my balcony and thinking about how disgusting it is, and how I'm going to die, and that my lips are going to crack and my skin is going to look all haggard immediately after I smoosh the butt against my planter-turned-ashtray. Indeed, I haven't been in the best place.

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The view from my balcony is pretty. Smoking is not. 

I smoked a bit from ages 15-19, purely provoked by peer pressure from my then-punk rock, now-total slacker, boyfriends. I decided to stop when one woman in college referred to me as, "That girl who's always smoking outside by herself on the lawn." I pared down to a few when I went out drinking. And then one day I stopped suddenly altogether. 

December was a bit of a whirlwind for me, work-wise. When you're your own employer, holidays are pretty much non-existent. There's this looming pressure to hustle everyday. Getting an assistant in January helped (thank you xoJaner, Allison, for saving my life and taking my pictures for posts and organizing my million tax write offs and stuff). 

But when the work load subsided a bit, I turned off. I vegged. And when I recalled where I was around that time last year, I gave myself a proverbial pass to do so. I allowed myself to smoke a bunch of cigs, and watch every single episode of "True Blood," "Six Feet Under," and "Ja'mie Private School Girl." (SO QUICHE GUYS!) 

When the anniversary of my release date comes around, I thought, I'll get back on track. I'll meditate again. Exercise. Not smoke cigarettes crouched in a corner on my balcony. Maybe I'll even volunteer.

That was on February 13th. 

Time passes so strangely in Los Angeles. Perhaps it's the fact that it's like, 75 degrees everyday (not complaining!), but the months seem to blur together. I keep having to remind myself it's March, and not June or July, or whatever month I moved here last year. That Christmas passed, even though I was working. That it's 2014.

I need to actively remember, every day, that I seriously hate smoking, and the "pass" I gave myself is no longer valid. I have to get it together (and I really WANT to) or else I'll continue being like this

Whatever bad habits you might be in the midsts of -- whether it's smoking, binge drinking, overeating, crawling around all sloth-like in your bedroom only to end up in your bed watching HBO Go for six hours straight -- here's how to stop the cycle of self-destruction and move on with your life like a person who actually cares about your own wellbeing: 

FORGIVE YOURSELF 

Easier said than done, I get it. Let's learn via an anecdote, shall we? 

My friend recently went through her yoga certification training and told me about one exercise her class did: Each student wrote down the worst things they thought about themselves on a regular basis. They then paired up with a partner, exchanged lists, and had the other person YELL THE THINGS THEY HATED ABOUT THEMSELVES TO THEIR FACES.

Her story stuck with me, as, one, that sounds like some intense yoga training. Secondly, I envisioned someone getting all up in my face and screaming the horrible thoughts that go through my head almost daily, i.e. "YOU CAN'T WRITE!" "YOU'RE HIDEOUS!" "NO ONE LOVES YOU!"

I, for one, would so tap my familial white-trash roots and spit in that person's face. (Or bawl my eyes out. Whatever.)

Considering this scenario, I've slowly learned to brush off the horrific thoughts that often buzz about in my freaky brain. Having the visual of some dummy saying stuff I've ALWAYS responded to with a resounding, "Piss off, penis breath," has helped me recognize when I'm beating myself up, and let it go. 

TAKE A BAPTISMAL BATH 

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Origins Calm Your Senses Lavender and Vanilla Oil ($24, origins.com), Babo Botanicals 3 in 1: Bubble Bath & Shampoo & Wash, Lavender ($13, drugstore.com), CVS Lavender Epsom Salt ($4.39, cvs.com

I like symbolism. I also like baths. (And lavender as well, apparently.) So naturally, I've developed this ritual of soaking in the tub, dunking my head under, and pretending like I'm starting anew when I come out.

I've already mentioned I have a thing for soaking in detoxifying epsom salt to make you feel like a new person. I also dig this bubble bath that's totally for babies and gets so sudsy. It has no chemicals, parabens or phthalates, and is full of antioxidants.

I use this amazing oil afterward on slightly damp skin -- it makes my body smooth and supple and the scent says, Ahhhh... everything's alright, girl. (I also include it in all care packages for friends who are way sick or like, super-depressed.) 

GUZZLE BEVERAGES THAT MAKE YOUR INNARDS HAPPY

Every time I drink green tea I feel as healthy as Gwyneth Paltrow. I make a huge jug of it almost every day by boiling a big pot of water, soaking three bags in it for 5 minutes, throwing in some ice, pouring it in a pitcher, and tossing it in the fridge.

Green tea's full of antioxidants (DUH) and is great for your body, your brain, your stress levels, and it also curbs your appetite, should you care about that. It's my go-to drink to chug when I think I might chew off my lips 'cause I want a cigarette.

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Green smoothie, e'ryday! Also that alligator tank's from Grayson ($10, graysonshop.com). It's backless and I adore it so much. 

I also start each morning with a smoothie (per suggestions some of you made on this post) and make sure it's very green, as that makes me feel like Miranda Kerr and less prone to making horrible decisions throughout my day.

I toss in 1/2 a banana, a heaping tablespoon of 0% Greek yogurt, some frozen mangoes, a cup of fresh spinach, chia seeds, and a TINY bit of agave syrup in a blender, then cover it all with filtered water, since my roommate says drinking unfiltered water in LA is going to kill me. So much nutrition and GOODNESS. 

TRY SOMETHING NEW

THEY say "walk before you run," which I was tempted to do here. However, the last time I tried this, I ended up walking to the corner store to get some cigarettes. 

THEY also say obliterate the sources of your bad habits: Delete your ex's number from your phone -- actually, block him, dammit -- toss your cigs, clean your pantry of junk food, pour your booze down the drain, tell your dad to change his HBO Go password so you no longer have access to it. 

When you're feeling like you're spiraling down a dirty toilet bowl of crap, and you loathe yourself for digging that grave THEY always talk about, it's difficult to just stop and be like, "Wow, I have so much magic willpower now, cool!" It is quite simple, though, to buy more cigarettes and booze and junk food and stalk your ex on Facebook. 

Instead, opt to make tangible changes that'll distract and potentially replace your bad habit(s). Take a class, sign up for a 5K, lock yourself in a library and read 10 million books. Trying new things will help rewire your brain so you'll have more impulse control when you're tempted to murder a bottle of red wine after a bad day at work. And it'll probably give you a boost of confidence, too.

'Cause really, when it comes to partaking in activities that are harmful and make us feel bad, the key to kicking 'em comes down to liking yourself, and recognizing that you deserve so much better.

Follow me on Twitter: @caitlinthornton