Quitting smoking is hard. There’s no denying it. Trying to quit can feel nigh impossible at times, like digging through a brick wall with a toothpick. Still, there’s never been a better time to quit than today. Jam-packed in one cigarette is a deadly concoction of 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which cause cancer. It’s a leading reason for significant health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular among many others. It’s not good. We assume you’re here to either quit smoking, or you’re already on the path, so let’s talk about 25 Things To Keep In Mind When Quitting Smoking.
Alcohol Triggers the Craving
If you’re trying to quit smoking but also drink alcohol, then you’ll want to put the bottle down for a while to help you stop smoking. Alcohol is a common smoking trigger. If this is a trigger for you, definitely stop drinking.
Set a Date
Quitting means quitting and to help your journey, you need to set a quit date. There are online apps and tools that can help you set a date and keep you accountable. Even consider writing out a contract, signing it, and giving it to a friend or accountability partner.
You Might Get Depression
Anxiety, fatigue, loss of interest, and downright depression are all symptoms of quitting smoking. Some of these might be worse than others for different people, and if you have a history of depression, then you may need to seek help from a doctor to manage it.
Switch to Decaf
Unfortunately, if you’re also a heavy coffee or soda drinker, then you need to know caffeine is a big smoking trigger. It also affects you physiologically. Non-smokers metabolize caffeine slower than smokers. This means, once you quit, you’ll need half of the caffeine you once did. So, don’t cut yourself off completely but just switch to decaf or start cutting down on the coffee.
You May Gain Weight
Quitting smoking can have the unfortunate side effect of gaining weight. Usually, the stress of quitting leads people to eat more. You’ll want to try to combat stress eating while you quit.
Don't Go on a Diet
At the same time, you don’t want to go on an extreme diet. Your focus should be on quitting smoking only. Going on an extreme diet while quitting smoking will only cause your cravings to become more intense. Instead, try to eat healthier while keeping the same amount of caloric intake.
Wash Your Clothes
You probably didn’t notice before, but your clothes smell like smoke. Once you quit smoking, clothes that smell like smoke might trigger you to want to pick up a cigarette. While you’re at it, get an air freshener for your car and try to clean anything else that might smell like smoke.
Eat More Veggies and Fruits
It might sound cliche, but part of eating healthy just means increasing your vegetable and fruit intake. A study in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research showed that eating more fruits and vegetables helps people last longer while quitting smoking.
The Short-Term Benefits
Some benefits are almost instantaneous. Within the first 24 hours of quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure will drop, nicotine drops by half, more oxygen will be in the blood, and your carbon monoxide levels drop.
After 24 Hours
After 24 hours of not smoking, your risk of heart attack decreases. After 72 hours, your bronchial tubes will relax, circulation improves, and lung function increases. Remember, the further you progress, the further your body heals and repairs itself.
Drink Herbal Tea
When you get a craving, drinking herbal teas, or tea in general, has been shown to help stop cravings. They have relaxing properties, calming nerves and easing muscle tension.
You Might Get Mouth Ulcers
Affecting two in five smokers who quit, there’s a good chance you may get mouth ulcers at some point while you’re in the process of quitting. Dependent smokers and those that use oral nicotine replacement also ranked as likelier to get the mouth ulcers as well.
The Long-Term Benefits
Not only are the short-term benefits good, but the long-term benefits are even better. After a year, your risk of a coronary disease is reduced by 50% and that continues to drop with each year. After five years, your risk of mouth, esophageal, throat, and bladder cancer reduces to 50%. And in 10 years, pre-cancerous cells are replaced by normal, healthy ones and lung and pancreatic cancer is greatly reduced.
You May Have Trouble Sleeping
Be prepared to lose some sleep while quitting. Loss of sleep, sleep disturbances, and possibly even insomnia are symptoms. Try taking a warm bath, meditating, and listening to soothing music.
Prepare Before Going Cold Turkey
Many people want to quit cold turkey but don’t realize how hard it is and how powerful nicotine dependence is. So, with that in mind, prepare, plan, and utilize every strategy mentioned to withstand going cold turkey. Also, realize, symptoms of withdrawal can last up to three months.
Consider Nicotine Replacement
Getting off your nicotine dependency can be like trying to climb Mount Everest with your bare hands. If you can’t go cold turkey, then consider using nicotine replacement therapy to help you get to a place where you can finally quit for good. Whether you choose the patch or the gum, there are plenty of options out there.
Exercise has several benefits when you quit smoking. It’ll help you maintain a healthy weight, keep your mind off cravings, improve your mood, and help you feel more energetic.
It’s a tough state of mind to describe, but some have said it’s like the feeling you get when you just wake up. Mental fog is a common symptom after quitting cigarettes. Trying to focus or formulate any other thoughts besides wanting a cigarette is tough.
Save Money and Reward Yourself
Once you quit smoking, put that cigarette money to good use and save it. After a year or two of savings, it’ll feel really good to see that big number in your pocket rather than going toward big tobacco.
Consider Making a List
It’s a good idea to make a list of all the reasons you want to quit. Whether it be health, family, kids, saving money, or lowering your insurance costs, writing it all down and keeping the list close by can help you stay motivated. Look at it frequently to remind yourself why you decided to quit.
Cravings Can be Defeated
During a craving, it might feel like an undefeatable dragon, but it can be overcome. Try coming up with other things that can defeat the craving quickly, like drinking a glass of water, eating a pickle, flossing and brushing your teeth, whistling, or running in place.
Cravings Only Last 15 Minutes
When you get a craving, you might feel like it’ll last forever, but the good news is that most cravings only last 10 to 15 minutes. Once that craving hits, remind yourself of this fact and try to find a way to distract yourself from it during that period.
Having an accountability buddy can be both a good motivator and a source of encouragement as you go on the journey to better health. However, be sure to pick someone you know who will be patient, encouraging, and can actually hold you accountable.
You Might Become Constipated
It might sound weird, but constipation is in the cards when you quit smoking. Remember nicotine effects your entire body. The stress of quitting can also be a big factor. Fortunately, if you get constipated while quitting, it should resolve itself in a few weeks.
If You Relapse, Don't Give Up
If you relapse, don’t consider all your hard work wasted. You’re making progress. Of the people that try to quit smoking, 75% relapse; it can actually take more than three attempts to fully quit. Take this time to evaluate what happened, adjust, quit again, and don’t ever give up!