March 22, 2014

3 Reasons Why Smokers Have it Right. ~ Skylor Powell

smoker hand stencil grafitti red

There are few things I hate in this world more than cigarettes.

The awful smoke smell sticks to everything, especially hair and clothes. Cigarettes are a life threat to anyone who’s voluntarily or involuntarily in the presence of one when lit. Cancer, emphysema, increasing the likelihood of stroke by two-to-four times—more women die from lung cancer than breast cancer each year.

Cigarettes are like the stereotype, popular jock in high school; he’s mean to everyone and yet people still think he’s cool and want to hang around him. And even though the “cool factor” cigarettes used to carry disappeared after people stopped reading The Outsiders in 3rd grade, cigarettes rope their companions into a painfully addictive, codependent relationship that can take years to call quits.

This post is not about how much I hate cigarettes though. It’s about the person behind the cigarette. The person who takes a break four, five, 20-plus times a day to step back from whatever they are doing. They slow down. They take time for themselves. We all could use more breaks in our days. Unless we’re talking about the people that smoke cigarettes—because smokers are pretty darn good at that.

Relationship With The Great Outdoors

The person who smokes cigarettes is the person who spends anywhere between 10 minutes and a couple hours (collectively) outdoors, rain or shine. Granted, it’s in between puffs of cigarette, but that’s more fresh air than the non-smoker gets who doesn’t step out of the office or library at all except to go home.

Non-Smoker Take Home Tip: Starting just once or twice a day, spend five minutes outside for every 60 minutes you spend indoors. Work your way up to taking an outdoor breather every hour or so.

Social Interaction

The person who smokes cigarettes is the person you see outside of the library or office, laughing with a handful of other people while you sit inside your office going brain dead after working four hours straight with no break. A smoker has more friendly conversations throughout the day that aren’t task driven. A smoker has more opportunity for the work/play balance.

Non-Smoker Take Home Tip: Take a few minutes in the middle of your day to talk about something other than work with your co-workers. A new bar in town, a good movie, anything work unrelated. If that doesn’t seem to be reasonable, give the person behind you in the grocery store line a smile while you both wait your turn. While waiting for a prescription at the drugstore, strike up a simple conversation with the person sitting next to you. Try making one new acquaintance a week.

Strong Self Relationship

The person who smokes cigarettes is the person who knows himself or herself. Not every time he or she steps outside will there be a fellow smoking companion to chat with. This is when a smoker has a moment to think. Perhaps asking philosophical questions about the meaning of life or maybe just the meaning of the grumble coming from his or her stomach, the smoker steps back from coworkers, friends, partners and kiddos to listen to personal thoughts and feelings.

Non-Smoker Take Home Tip: Give yourself a break. Whether that means leaving your desk during the day to go outside or justing put on headphones to listen to a single song that takes your mind to a warm sandy beach, create space away from what normally fills your hours with for a few minutes each day. Start with just once and build it to a regular occurrence.

I teach yoga and coach people on understanding the dietary regimen that serves their specific bodies and minds best. Smoking a cigarette is never something I prescribe and please believe me when I say I think it’s one of the worst things you can do to yourself.

But these three byproducts of smoking seem almost impossible to encourage in people who don’t smoke cigarettes. If I told you to stop what you are doing, go sit outside and strike up a conversation with a total stranger and you said yes, you’d be in the minority. Let’s change that! Let’s all become cigarette-less smokers and take more time for ourselves, for the outdoors and for connecting.



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Editorial Assistant: Richard May / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Rupert Ganzer / Flickr

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Skylor Powell