Information for Ukrainian refugees / Інформація для українських біженців (click here)
Information for Ukrainian refugees / Інформація для українських біженців (click here)

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Help is at hand

Sexually transmitted infections are caused by bacteria and viruses, which can be passed from one person to another during sexual contact. If left untreated some of them can cause serious and irreversible damage to your pelvis. This may result in pelvic pain, increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies or make you infertile due to complete blockage of your fallopian tubes. Some of the infections can have widespread effects on vital organs.

To find out more about STI Testing at Clermont Health, Please consult with our medical staff.

Who gets sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

Sexually transmitted infections are common. When you have sex with a new partner you could be putting yourself at risk of getting an infection. Unfortunately, a lot of infections cause no symptoms so you may not realise that you have a problem for several days, weeks, months or more. Your partner is also unlikely to know that they could be passing an infection on to you. So anyone can be infected from a single sexual contact with an infected person.

What are STIs?

Sexually transmitted infections are caused by bacteria and viruses, which can be passed from one person to another during sexual contact. If left untreated some of them can cause serious and irreversible damage to your pelvis. This may result in pelvic pain, increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies or make you infertile due to complete blockage of your fallopian tubes. Some of the infections can have widespread effects on vital organs.


The current pandemic and the resultant upheaval are understandably causing huge levels of anxiety. Whilst the news cycle allows us ample cause to feel concerned about our lives and the world in which we live, these feelings need not trigger chronic anxiety. On the contrary, it has never been more important to find a calm, measured and healthy response to stressful life events.

Anxiety disorders can affect people of any gender at any time in their life and are one of the leading causes of mental illness in Ireland. The paradox is that anxiety is a normal and appropriate mind and body reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations.

In the correct set and setting a certain level of anxiety can help you pay attention and stay vigilant in the presence of danger. However when anxiety becomes chronic common and perhaps familiar symptoms as below can occur;

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • sensing of impending doom
  • panic attacks
  • rapid heart rate/palpitations
  • chest tightness and trouble breathing
  • sweating or trembling
  • weakness and lethargy
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty sleeping
  • gastrointestinal disturbances

Causes of Anxiety

Traumatic events, illnesses or major life event such as a financial disaster, the ending of a close relationship, death or accidents, childhood may all trigger anxiety or an anxiety disorder.

Stress and anxiety can build up over time, remaining low-grade for months or years until it suddenly tips over into anxiety and anxiety disorders. Our moods are also controlled by hormones which if unbalanced can also more lead to mood and anxiety disorders. And even just having another mental health disorder such as depression or schizophrenia makes a concurrent diagnosis of anxiety more likely. There may also be a genetic component to anxiety. Drugs, most notably alcohol, are one of the leading causes of low mood and anxiety especially with respect to withdrawal symptoms. One of the main difficulties is that in the short term many people may feel a benefit, which in turn can lead to reliance and addiction to these substances, ensuring a vicious circle which can be difficult to break. Highly processed foods that contain refined carbohydrates & sugar have been shown to increase anxiety responses and inflammation, as well as high-fat foods and food additives, preservatives, and colourings. A lack of sleep, owing to our environment of constant stimulation, litre sized portions of coffee and consistent social media is also a leading cause of anxiety.

What can I do?

Talking to someone is the best start, regular exercise and a good sleep routine are optimal. Some foods and supplements may also help. B vitamins, vitamin D, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium are all crucial for not just brain but also immune health, as well as omega-3 Fatty Acids. Nuts and seeds are rich in magnesium, as well as tryptophan, which is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Berries are an excellent source of antioxidants and fibre, as are beans and legumes. Mushrooms, greens and other vegetables such as asparagus, avocado and fermented foods which improve gut health by feeding good gut bacteria.


While it is normal to feel sad, down or depressed at one time or another in our lives, sometimes these feelings can become more intense, last for longer periods of time and intrude in our activities of daily living. It is a serious medical illness that affects how you feel, think and behave, made all the more difficult as it can be difficult to detect, especially when we bury or hide these emotions from ourselves and others for a variety of reasons.

Some of the symptoms of depression include;

  • feeling sad or down a lot of the time, even when there is seemingly no reason
  • lack of feeling or blunted emotions, such that find it difficult to engage in pastimes and interests that once made you happy
  • Feeling exhausted and tired all of the time, or sometimes just feeling angry and irritable
  • People often retract into themselves and find social interactions hard to engage with or can have difficulty concentrating ad sleeping, particularly early in the morning
  • Both weight loss and weight gain are associated with depression
  • Feeling so low or depressed that thoughts of self harm or even suicide start to intrude

Causes of depression include a build-up of stress and anxiety, working too hard, financial pressures, family situations, alcohol and drug abuse, bereavement, and a whole host of other factors that are commonly a result of living in a fast-paced less connected life.

Depression is a common, and thankfully the stigma that was once associated with it is lifting year after year.

The first thing to do is talk to someone, whether it be a support organisation, your employer, a family member, a friend or a healthcare professional.  If you are very depressed and are thinking of self-harm or suicide, you need to get help immediately by calling 999 or 112 or by going to your local ED department

There are many forms of treatment, and the right treatment is the one that best fits your circumstances and that best fits you. Counselling and support groups have a very good evidence base, as does exercise and keeping a good sleep routine. Relaxation techniques, such as breathwork, yoga and time spent in nature also have a good evidence base. Medication can be appropriate for many people and can really help them get back on their feet. 

Diet & Heart Disease

All of these terms refer to the health of the arteries that transport oxygen-carrying blood around the body. For the purposes of this brief discussion, we will refer to it as heart disease.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Ireland and whilst Ireland sits mid-table amongst our European counterparts, the WHO reports we are heading for the top spot (for obesity and diabetes too). Ever since young American soldiers in the Korean war were found to have early signs of heart disease in the 1950s, it has been assumed that heart disease is just something that happens to us as we age. However, what was missed is that the Korean soldiers in the same war had pristine arteries in their hearts. Colin T. Campbells seminal work “The China Study” included the largest epidemiological study of its day and revealed similar findings in the Chinese and Taiwanese population. Here heart disease, as well as cancer and diabetes, were almost absent in rural areas where people consumed mostly plant foods.

Meanwhile, those who lived in city environments and consumed a more Western diet had rates of heart and other chronic diseases similar to Western countries. The importance of whole plant foods is not just preventing but also treating heart disease is being increasingly recognised by leading global authorities.

The longest-living and healthiest populations in the world have made a simple template for us to follow. Get plenty of movement and exercise every day, consume a freshly prepared whole-food plant-based diet, drink plenty of water, and enjoy living in your community. A much more attractive alternative than spending your golden years in pharmacies, on hospital waiting lists, or even worse on hospital trolleys. The benefit of including a whole-food plant-based diet alongside a healthy sleep and exercise lifestyle is that promoting the health of the arteries of our heart, is of course also benefiting the arteries to our brains, eyes, kidneys, and all points in between. What we put on our forks has the ability to greatly affect our health, and as such heart disease need not be an inevitable consequence of aging.

Teenage Health

A friendly and confidential service for conditions such as acne, obesity, underweight, bullying, stress, family problems, contraception advice, issues to do with safe sex, alcohol, drugs, is available to our young adults. Please request an appointment with one of our GPs.

We know that it can be difficult to talk to people when you’re having difficulties with your mental health. Alternatively please see below for some online resources that may be of help to you; is an excellent online resource that provides young people with access to information, support, and resources to lead happy, healthy, and fulfilled lives. is a free 24/7 text service, providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people going through mental health difficulties ranging from breakups to bullying, anxiety to depression and suicidal feelings. If you are experiencing a personal crisis and need immediate support simply text HELLO to 50808

Aware is an Irish charity that aims to provide information, advocacy, and support for those dealing with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and other anxiety disorders. Please see their resources page an excellent range of talks. is an excellent resource for objective and sensible information about drug use, along with signposts for information or help if you think you might need it. See below for local resources;

HSE – North Louth Drug Outreach & Counselling Service

Market St Health Centre, Market St, Dundalk, Louth

Phone: 087 9256228 or (042) 9394010  

Includes: information, family support, awareness, prevention, education and training programmes, needle and syringe exchange as well as opioid substitution treatment.

North Louth Alcohol Counselling Service

Ladywell Centre, Dublin Road, Dundalk, Louth

Phone: (042) 9326156
Includes support, counselling and psychotherapy

Turas Counselling Services Ltd

59 Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk, Louth

Phone: (042) 9338221/4

Includes: Information, support, awareness, prevention, education and training programmes, counselling and psychotherapy, opioid substitution programmes, detoxification programmes, aftercare and CE schemes.

Help is at hand

Crisis Pregnancy

My Options is a HSE freephone line that provides free and confidential information and counselling to people experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. It provides information and counselling Monday to Friday (9am to 9pm) and Saturdays (10am to 2pm) and provides medical advice 24/7. You can access this service by calling 1800 828 010.

Dealing with a Crisis (or Unplanned) Pregnancy

If you find yourself suddenly facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may feel many different emotions—fear, loneliness, panic, and distress. We know that many women find it hard to discuss an unplanned or crisis pregnancy with their partner, family or friends until they know how they themselves feel about the pregnancy. This can be very isolating, and can leave you feeling alone and vulnerable at a time when you may most need the support of your loved ones. If you are concerned , please see one of our Medical staff or ring the my options number as above

Social Prescribing

What is Social Prescribing?

Social Prescribing is a means of enabling GPs and other healthcare professionals to refer patients, often via an intermediary link worker, to services located within our own community. It is an innovative and growing movement whereby patients can tailor their treatment according to available community resources, so that people with social, emotional or practical needs are empowered to find solutions. This in turn fosters resilience and character within that same community.

See below for a brief list of resources that are available in our community. Please note this list is not exhaustive and is being frequently curated.




This is a novel online service that allows you to order local organic produce to help build resilience within our community.



Men’s Sheds

The Louth Men’s Sheds project started by the Netwell Centre and Louth County Council targets men at risk of isolation or experiencing major life changes. The shed environment encourages men to share skills and learn new ones. Socialising is a large part of the project too, providing opportunities for the development of new friendships as well as the renewal of old ones.

Contact Eva Beirne


Tel: 085 889 4471 is an excellent resource for objective and sensible information about drug use, along with signposts for information or help if you think you might need it. See below for local resources;



HSE – North Louth Drug Outreach & Counselling Service

Market St Health Centre, Market St, Dundalk, Louth

Tel: 087 9256228 or (042) 9394010

Includes: information, family support, awareness, prevention, education and training programmes, needle and syringe exchange as well as opioid substitution treatment.



North Louth Alcohol Counselling Service

Ladywell Centre, Dublin Road, Dundalk, Louth

Tel: (042) 9326156
Includes support, counselling and psychotherapy.



Turas Counselling Services Ltd

59 Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk, Louth

Phone: (042) 9338221/4

Includes: Information, support, awareness, prevention, education and training programmes, counselling and psychotherapy, opioid substitution programmes, detoxification programmes, aftercare and CE schemes.



Active Retirement Ireland 

The purpose of Active Retirement Ireland is to enable retired people to enjoy a full and active life and to advocate for them

Telephone: 01-8733836



The Netwell Centre

Dundalk Institute of Technology PJ Carroll’s Bldg – Bright Room Dublin Road

The Netwell Centre is developing new ideas that enhance the quality of life and well-being of older people and those who care for them, through more integrated community-oriented services, more sustainable home and neighbourhood de- sign, and more age-friendly technologies – with the ultimate aim of enhancing longer living in smarter places.

Tel: 042-9370497




Nestling Project Men’s Group,

Barrack Street, Dundalk

Choir Every Monday 12-1pm
Every Tuesday 11-12.30pm 2.30-4pm

Day trips every 6 weeks



Senior Helpline

Senior Help Line is a confidential listening service for older people by trained older volunteers for the price of a local call anywhere in Ireland,

LoCall: 1850 440 444.

The Birches

The Birches is an Alzheimer Day Care Centre situated in Dundalk, Co. Louth catering for persons suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease or Alzheimer related Dementia.

The ethos of Day Care is that of a holistic nature caring for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the person with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Telephone: 042 935 1388



Dundalk Counselling Centre

3 Seatown Place, Dundalk

Telephone Number: 042 933 8333



Carers Ireland

The Carers Association is Ireland’s national voluntary organisation for and of family carers in the home. Family carers provide high levels of care to a range of people including frail older people, people with severe disabilities, the terminally ill and children with special needs.

Freephone: 1800 24 07 24



Carroll Meade

Carroll Meade is a Charity Company that provide sheltered housing for the elderly in Carroll Meade, Pearse Park, Dundalk where they can live independently close to all amenities.



Meals on Wheels

This service is available to people in the community who are unable to cook their own meals due to age, illness or disability.

Telephone: 042 933 2848

To apply for Meals on Wheels in the Dundalk area please contact:

Social Services Council 15A Clanbrassil Street Dundalk



Louth Volunteer Centre

Telephone: Dundalk: 087 607 1127

Louth Home Care Service

Youth Volunteer Centre provides a free volunteer matching service; making it easier for you to volunteer in Louth.



LouthLinx is a community based rural transport programme whose aim is to provide affordable, accessible and flexible transport to people in rural areas which will tie in where possible with existing public and private service providers. Go to or Telephone Number 041 6857442



Louth Sports Partnership

Older adult dance classes

Classes started in Dundalk with participants of 6 that quickly changed as the numbers grew week on week, the number to date in Dundalk is 36, as the classes got larger we decided to continue this success in Drogheda by giving them the same opportunity, five week classes free of charge. From taking part in these classes a group formed in Drogheda to continue learning how to jive and is still running successfully and independently to date. The number to date in Drogheda ranges from 37 – 42 participants.

Telephone: 042 93 24356



Good Morning Louth is a free telephone service for people over 65 years of age. Good Morning Louth, part of the Nestling Project, is for older people living in County Louth, and is ideally suited to people who are living alone. Good Morning Louth operates Monday to Friday (9.30 to 1 pm), with pre- arranged calls made to service users to check on their well-being. The main aim of Good Morning Louth is to ensure you are safe and well in your home. In addition, it will provide opportunities for users to share worries or concerns, and it will raise awareness of potentially useful local services, thus connecting people to their local community. Good Morning Louth is staffed by local volunteers, many of whom are retired and like the idea of giving something back to their community.

Telephone: 042 933 0103.

Diet & Cancer

There are few of us who have not been personally affected by the loss of someone to cancer. Often referred to as “The Big C”, cancer is the diagnosis is one that many of us have learned to fear. As it is the second most common cause of death in Ireland, we should be aware of everything we can do in our power to prevent it from happening to us and our loved ones. Yet the largest epidemiological studies consistently tell us that large numbers of cancer diagnosis and death are preventable. In 1981 legendary British epidemiologists Sir Richard Peto and Sir Richard Doll estimated that approximately 80% of cancers in the developed world could be prevented by altering environmental factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and diet. The World Cancer Research Fund has more recently estimated that one-third of the most common cancers could be prevented through diet alone.

So which diet is associated with the lowest incidence of cancer? Well, the best place to start is with whole foods, as opposed to processed or ultra-processed foods. The easiest way to discern which foods are whole from those that are processed is to look at the back of the packet. If there is nothing more than a bar code then it’s a whole food, while if there is a list of ingredients that would score big points in a game of Scrabble, then its likely processed. The recent French study NutriNet-Sante found that a 10% increase in ultra-processed foods was associated with a 10% rise in breast cancer risk. The truth of the matter is that the long-term biological effect of many ingredients in highly processed foods is not fully known as yet.

The next step is to focus on plant-based foods. Fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, spices, beans, and legumes are packed full of cancer-fighting antioxidants, enzymes, fibre, trace elements and minerals, and a host of other compounds that work in wonderous ways to help our body clear away damaged or faulty cells that may be precancerous. Conversely, in 2015 the World Health Organization classified processed and red meats as carcinogens. In the largest epidemiolocal study ever carried out to date, the EPIC trial found that 3% of all European deaths in the ten years of its study, were directly linked to processed meat consumption alone. The most recent World Cancer Research Fund has classed red and processed meat as a high risk for colorectal cancer.

As it is the cultural norm in Ireland to enjoy red and processed meat (as well as white meat, eggs, and dairy) this has made for uncomfortable reading for many of us. At times of friends and family, love and generosity towards one and other is often articulated through food, often unhealthy ones. Just consider bringing chocolates to those unwell in hospitals. The industry around these unhealthy foods may support our families and friends. There is no doubt that animal-based products are a central part of our culture. But as Irish society continues to become more and more chronically unwell, what if a solution was to be found at the end of our forks?

Sadly, the long and arduous journey to find a cure for cancer goes on. But perhaps the question that is being asked is not the correct one at all. Perhaps there will be no “cure” for cancer, therefore the primary focus should be focused on cancer prevention. In this light, the answer for ourselves, families and friends is a lifestyle based around a whole food plant-based diet, not smoking, alcohol in moderation, and frequent exercise.

Help is at hand

Diet and Type-2 Diabetes

There is much confusion as to just what Type-2 diabetes actually is, so by taking the mystery out of the disease first you will see how managing and perhaps even rolling it back may be possible. However, first of all we have to consider just what Type 2 Diabetes actually is. Something about high blood sugar levels? Problems with our feet or nerves? Kidney disease?

There are a number of reasons we can become diabetic. One relatively minor reason is genetics, so even if diabetes runs strong in your family it is not necessary for your genes to determine your health. Our western lifestyle can lend us to lead sleep-deprived, stressed and sedentary lives which are also factors for the diabetes epidemic. But the primary reason is our food environment which has drastically changed over the last 30 years. We see this in international trends as the western diet has been exported globally, the tsunami of diabetes incidence has closely followed.

When we eat a mixture of foods, the typical “balanced” diet, our bodies sort through all of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and protein) to see what is needed for now and what can be stored for later. At a very crude level, our bodies will always break down what carbohydrates we eat as a fuel source “for now”, that fuel source of course being glucose (or sugar). Insulin is a hormone that is secreted to allow uptake of glucose into muscle cells and this keeps blood sugar levels steady and in the normal range. The proteins that we eat are broken down into amino acids and used for a wide range of necessary functions, and if there are too many, some are converted into glucose too. Fat on the other hand, while necessary for a variety of functions, is mostly stored away for a rainy day. Whilst this is normal and appropriate physiology, what isn’t normal is how the number of meals, the amount of added sugar, how refined our food has become and the quantity of fat we consume every day has increased in the last few decades.

This has resulted in our bodies consistently storing fat for a rainy day that is never going to come. Eventually, this fat starts to build up inside the cells of our liver, pancreas, and muscles. This is toxic for our cells and means they cannot recognise insulin’s role anymore. This is the true cause of Type 2 diabetes and it is called “insulin resistance”. Furthermore, this fat build up inside pancreatic cells mean it is more sluggish at releasing insulin, and added to the fact that the insulin it does make isn’t working efficiently, these combined events result in elevated blood sugar levels. Furthermore, because our muscle cells can still sense that blood sugar levels are too high, they stimulate even more insulin to be produced. This cycle of insulin resistance and insulin over-stimulation causes more fat storage, more weight gain and a vicious cycle begins that eventually leads to some of the problems above.

The conventional approach to diabetes is to concentrate on managing the blood sugar levels, but this does not treat the true cause of diabetes i.e., insulin resistance. To reverse type 2 diabetes you need to reverse insulin resistance. Recall, the main factor in the cause of diabetes is in our diets, hence diet is where the most effective solutions are to be found. The answer to the diabetes epidemic can be found in the first aisle of the supermarket, in a cookbook, and in a few other cheap, easy, and healthy lifestyle pointers. The answer can be found in a whole food plant-based diet.

A whole food plant-based diet is naturally so low in fat that within 12 weeks, the clogged fat inside muscle cells will start leaving and insulin resistance will start lifting. A good sleep routine, plenty of moderate exercise, and sticking to a Whole Food Plant-Based diet can not only improve and normalise blood sugar levels, but can lessen the need for medications, normalise cholesterol levels, prevent heart disease, and also protect from various cancers.

Planetary Health

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change in world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”
– Margaret Mead 

Planetary Health refers to “the health of human civilization and the state of the natural systems on which it depends” and is an evolving concept both nationally and internationally. It is more or less a way of saying that without a healthy planet we cannot have a healthy population. Furthermore healthcare has a carbon footprint of its own which must be considered.

In 2019 the international federation of family doctors (called WONCA) issued a landmark declaration on planetary health calling on family doctors across the world to act and lead on this issue. Here at Clermont Health we are cognisant that we have a responsibility to act and to advocate for the climate crisis in our activities and organisations. This mission will be ongoing and represents a steep learning curve for us all, but we are excited by the challenge and look forward to sharing then adventure with you.

General Practice is ideally placed to deliver education in disease prevention to counter the growing burden of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.  

How will climate change effect life in County Louth?

The direct consequences of the climate crisis are broadly broken into air pollution, heat, cold, UV radiation. However, it is the indirect effects that are likely to affect us first and foremost, such “climate refugees”. The non-tangible effects of water pollution issues caused by nitrogen and phosphate run-off causing coastal “dead zones”, issues with the lack of pollinators and unknowns regarding the loss of biodiversity both in Ireland and globally are more difficult to predict. “Climate anxiety” and other mental health issues that are not as readily predictable will also be a factor.


What is the environmental footprint of our practice?

  • Energy consumption for transportation (including staff, supplies, patients etc), electricity for refrigeration, heating, computers and other equipment, are all factors that can be mitigated.
  • Waste incineration and particularly single use plastics e.g., medicine wrappings, inhaler devices, urine sample pots.
  • Paper wastage
  • Polypharmacy and antimicrobial resistance via overprescribing have a severe environmental effect.
  • Approximately 80 % of all prescribed medications are from primary care.

What will the practice do to improve it’s carbon footprint?

  • improved recycling
  • e-referrals where possible
  • Multidose “spray” inhalers can often be changed to more sustainable dry powder inhalers
  • The practice will also audit our efforts
  • Social prescribing can also be promoted especially for mental health and lifestyle related diseases
  • Active transport and plant-based diets have been termed “triple wins” i.e. firstly there are less carbon emissions, secondly, they are cheaper on the pocket and thirdly they confer improved and better health.

It is essential to become aware of the planetary state of emergency, what our environmental footprint is individually and nationally, and what actions we can take in our lives and our consultations and collectively as a team.

LGBTQI+ Health

Clermont Health is committed to meeting the special health care needs of our LGBTQI+ community. We understand the experiences of isolation, fear, stigma, bullying, family rejection, homophobic abuse and violence faced by members of the community which contributes to high rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide, and substance misuse. We recognise the barriers to care and the lack of essential services for transgender people. Clermont Health represents a safe, non-judgemental space and we encourage you to speak openly about any health concerns you may have.

Please see some of the following links which you may also find helpful:

Quit Now! No Time Like The Present

So you’ve decided to quit smoking…or at least you are leaning in the general direction of quitting? The good news is that even thinking about quitting is part of the journey and this significantly increases your chances of quitting in the future. Even more exciting is that by reading this page, or having talked to your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or friend is enough to utilize more positive brain circuitry. This can help to break down old addiction and reward pathways that make up our habits. All that is to say, well done on getting this far…you are genuinely on the road!

Please see a poem from one of our patients Bernadette Sellick:

My life revolves around cigarettes and endless cups of tea.

Just one cigarette won’t satisfy me.

My life revolves around cigarettes and endless cups of tea,  I’m gonna need a new set of lungs soon believe you me.

So give up the cigarettes s if you can you know you’ll never win,

give up the cigarettes and put them in the bin.


Our GPs, nurses, and local pharmacists will always be on hand to offer you help with pills or patches, gum or lozenges, or whatever is right for you at the time. But for a fascinating look at how we can use some simple mind exercises to break bad habits, please click below for a quick 10 minute Ted Talk;




If you don’t have time for the video, here are some top tips to help you to stop…and stay stopped.


  1. Think positive

The old adage goes “if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again” and you might note there is no mention of the F(ail)-word. Trying to stop is all part of the journey to fully quitting. There are no rules that say how many attempts you are allowed; the stories that we tell ourselves are much more powerful than we give credit for. A handy thought experiment would be to talk to yourself as you would to a friend who was trying to quit. What words would you use? Would you be hard on them? Would you be negative or positive in your approach? And would you talk to others as sometimes you might talk to yourself?


  1. Make a plan to quit

Making a list, a promise, writing down the a quit date, or even making an appointment to see the GP to discuss this all helps to make your thoughts real. Sometimes we are better at following through on our actions when they are automated. Some of our best plans and intentions have a habit of evaporating or being trampled on by competing thoughts. Writing them down is a real step and our natural tendencies are to follow them up so we can have the satisfaction of crossing them off!


  1. Have a mantra

When faced with an unfamiliar or unsuspecting situation, it is useful to have an answer (or mantra) on the tip of your tongue so that an old habit doesn’t automatically take over. This can be helpful for cravings, which although powerful, only have a short shelf life. Thinking ahead for times when this might happen is also helpful e.g., after a meal with friends, watching sport, etc.


  1. Change your routine

Much of smoking addiction is far beyond nicotine, hence it is important to recognise and plan for how many social queues will trigger cravings. There are any number of these situations but some common ones include after a meal or with a coffee. Introducing a new routine such as going for a walk straight after dinner, using a Rubix cube when restless, or similar can be really useful. You may also want to change your routine at or after mealtimes, and exercise has been shown to reduce cravings in itself. You might even benefit from getting a pet to help get you out the door!


  1. Name your cravings

This speaks to the idea of mindfulness. Modern life can leave us busy, absent-minded, distracted, and therefore open to cravings. Just naming your cravings is a useful exercise that allows you to see them for what they are. Powerful, but fleeting, moments that disappear as quickly as they arrived.


  1. Pick up the phone

There is an improvement in quitting rates of up to 400% for those that avail of help such as a smoker’s helpline. What is the magic behind this remarkable success? It isn’t the person on the other end of the phone, it is you! Simply by lifting the phone you make a conscious statement that you are engaging in help and use the parts of your brain that will maximise your chances of succeeding. 

Call 1800201203 or freetext QUIT to 50100 for help. You can also contact Jane Shields at Louth County Hospital for Dundalk’s Tobacco Support Service at 042-9334701