Nicotine Withdrawal - Your First Two Weeks
What The Heck Was I Thinking?
Once you make the decision to quit smoking you may feel excited just thinking of how great you're going to feel once the habit is broken. However, reality hits within hours of laying the package of smokes down and you may end up feeling like you're on a roller coaster for a couple of weeks as you overcome the nicotine habit. Some days will be good and others will be the days from hell. No matter what method you decide to use - whether you're going to kick the habit cold-turkey or wean yourself from cigarette smoking slowly - you will feel the effects of nicotine withdrawal. The worst week will likely be the first, although some people struggle through the second week as well. The good news is that within a couple of weeks you'll have gained the upper hand as the worst of physical withdrawal symptoms end.
How Your Body Reacts to Withdrawal
Your body is not only withdrawing from nicotine, but from a lot of other addictive and dangerous chemicals that you have been inhaling into your body for however many years you've been smoking. When the drug supply is cut, the body reacts - violently. Feeling like you have the grand-daddy of all flu bugs is a common reaction. However, if you take good care of yourself the discomfort of this initial phase can be reduced significantly. Here are some ways to minimize the effects on your body and mind that result from nicotine withdrawal.
Ways to Deal With Symptoms of Withdrawal
1. Establish a support network. There are many listed right here on this site. It is so important to have the support of people who understand your struggles and are interested in your success.
2. Eat well. Remember that your body is working hard to get rid of toxins that have been stored in it for a long time due to cigarette smoking. By eating a healthy diet that is high in vitamins and minerals, you give it the edge it needs right now to fight this fight. Choose foods that will give you a good amount of fuel and try to limit the treats until you're over the withdrawal symptoms. Sugar just drives the craving and makes your body work that much harder.
3. Take vitamins. Smoking robs your body of nutrients so supplementing your great new and healthy diet with a quality vitamin-mineral tablet helps to keep you from feeling fatigued.
4. Healthy snacks. Yes, we're still on food! Stock the fridge with healthy snacks. Crunchy foods like raw celery and carrot sticks along with a low-fat tasty dip make great snacks. Fresh fruits like pineapple chunks, berries, melon and cherries are all excellent ways to satisfy a sweet craving - just make sure you've got a good supply washed and in the fridge, ready to go. If you love freezer treats, low-fat ice-treats (like fudgescicles) and frozen grapes are winners.
5. Get out for a walk. Just 15 minutes of fast-paced walking every day can do wonders to control nicotine cravings. It calms edginess and improves circulation as well as causes a release of "feel-good" hormones called endorphins. If the urge for a cigarette pops up, you pop up from your chair and head for the door to get out for a walk.
6. Get some sleep. You'll be surprised how much energy goes into quitting. Your body and your mind are stressed and sleep is a great antidote for the stress. If you need more sleep, take it. And, don't worry about feeling tired - this too shall pass.
7. Drink lots of water. Smoking causes dehydration and now that you're quitting, toxins will be released into the body at a greater rate. Water washes the toxins out of the body and also serves as a way to circumvent a craving. Being well hydrated serves a number of functions, not the least of which is making you feel better. It can also help you keep your appetite in check.
8. Keep supplies in your car. If you have to drive a lot, be sure you've got a good stock of healthy snacks, water, and something to chew on - whether it's cinnamon sticks or straws.
9. Deep breathing is a way to ward off cravings. Usually a cigarette craving hits like a ton of bricks and lasts for 3-5 minutes and then begins to subside. During those intense minutes practice some deep breathing techniques. Focus on your breathing and before you know it the intensity of the craving will have dissipated. Besides, you'll begin training your lungs to handle cleaner air once again.