Smoking can be a lot of fun for a long time, but the time comes in a persons' life where they have to give it up. Maybe they aim to do it forever, or maybe just for awhile. I'm not going to sit here and tell you how horrible cigarettes are for your health and give another lousy pitch to tell you to stop today. However, having quit several times to save money, I am very familiar with what you go through when you stop smoking. I aim to help you ease the process of quitting so it's not so frustrating.
There are a lot of drugs and patches that claim to help you stop smoking, but what are they really other than an expensive crutch. We are people, we are strong. If we want to quit something, we can do it without a crutch. You don't need a patch or pill that feeds you tiny bits of nicotine while we spend all the money we could be saving for weeks on them. You don't need them. Quitting smoking isn't going to shock your body so badly you die, unless your older and have heart issues, then you may want to consider consulting a doctor.
Know What To Expect
Before kicking the habit you should have some general knowledge of what it's going to do to you. Every person has nicotine withdrawals differently, I've met a few people who have none at all, but chances are you won't be one of those lucky people.
When you quit expect:
- Weight Gain
- Sore Throat
- Trouble Sleeping (Everything from inability to stay asleep, trouble falling asleep, and nightmares)
- Chest Tightness
Given, those are nothing particularly horrifying like bleeding from the nose or vomiting, but when they hit you they make you feel pretty bad. Irritability and anxiety are the most prevalent. You will not be a fun person to be around for the first few weeks. Speaking of those weeks, the first three days will be the worst days of your life. It's when all the symptoms will be the worst, so I suggest taking some time off from work as working while quitting can be very overwhelming. The cravings will be pretty frequent for the first three weeks but after that they fade away quickly.
Not all the symptoms will be bad though. Some positives are:
- Your breath, hair, and clothes smell better
- Food tastes better (this leads to the weight gain, really)
- You gain your sense of smell back
- Your teeth get whiter
- Your fingers lose their yellowish tint
- You don't get winded walking up the stairs anymore
Dealing With Cravings
Even if your body feels a little bit like its dying, it still wants its nicotine fix and your body and brain sort of team up to try to get you to get it. In the first week or so, the cravings can break you pretty quick. Cravings happen because our body stores nicotine, and as we deprive ourselves of it, we use up those stores and want more. It's akin to if your starving and your body eats your fats cells. If you are strong willed or really want to quit, they should be manageable, but we can't all be so lucky.
The cravings may be powerful, but they pass very quickly. It's estimated that cravings last for about five minutes. The best tip I've run across was to lay down, cover up with a cozy blanket, and focus on your breathing until the craving passes. Not everyone can take that time out so some other options are:
- Have a snack (something healthy if your weight conscious, but fatty foods make it easier)
- Drink some water
- Watch something interesting
- Listen to a song (singing along keeps you more distracted)
- Clip your nails
- Brush your hair or teeth
By the end of one of these activities your craving should have passed, if not, keep going until it's gone. When you are doing these things, it's important to not think about smoking. It'll just make the craving endless.
Identify and Avoid Triggers
Triggers are things that you usually do when smoking. For some, it's smoking while they drink alcohol. Other like a nice cigarette with their morning coffee. These are things you must avoid for the first month are so, or until you think your ready. Some triggers, like driving a car, cannot be avoided so you might have you use some mental fortitude there. I also suggest having a lollipop when driving, just to satisfy the oral fixation.
If you like cigarettes and coffee, switch to a tea for awhile. If you like to drink alcohol and smoke, don't drink. Though I do find that if you don't live near a place where you can buy cigarettes and aren't a deplorable drunk driver, drinking alone in your house is a good way to combat some of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. However, that's like replacing one evil with another.
Clean Your House
This is so important it gets it own section. Once you've had your last cigarette, clean like a crazy person. Throw away your lighters and your ashtrays. Take out the trash, vacuum, wash your clothing, and spray the house down with air freshener. The less you smell cigarettes, the better off you'll be. Once you get your sense of smell back, you'll be like a bloodhound for the scent of tobacco so you can spot clean then. This can be difficult if you are married to a smoker, but politely insist they start smoking outside.
This is a collection of tips I've gotten from people who quit and have not started again on how to deal with the lack of nicotine.
Don't Diet and Quit at the Same Time - While smoking cessation can cause weight gain, it's not wise to do both at the same time. Do smoking first, and diet next month. With the amount of deprivation diet and smoking cessation cause you'd be more likely to end up rolling around in a kiddie pool full of Cheetos smoking a whole carton of cigarettes.
Drink Water and Exercise - Just because you've quit smoking doesn't mean you have to turn your whole life around with regular exercise and eating right. However, nicotine is a toxin in your body. You what gets rid of toxins? Water and exercise! Drinking water or doing some exercise is a really good way to combat cravings, they can even help them pass faster so instead of three weeks of withdrawal hell, it's two weeks or less.
Know Why You Quit - It's good to identify why you are quitting and hold on to that. It can help solidify your resolve to stop smoking. Smoking is as mentally addicting as it is physical. The mental part can make you go back to smoking months later. For some, the reason to quit is important and can be a big deterrent from starting again, but for others coming up for a reason why you are quitting is not such a convincing deterrent.
Reward Yourself - You're going to save a lot of money by not smoking. Reward yourself with it. Set goals for yourself. If you're still not smoking by the end of day one, buy yourself a candy bar. Set your goals longer apart with bigger rewards.