Nicotine Withdrawal - Managing the Symptoms Part 2
Yeah, I Tried Quitting Once...
Sometimes you hear people talk about their experiences with quitting smoking. They are puffing on a cigarette as they tell you their stories of withdrawal symptoms and why it is just easier to keep smoking. Withdrawal from nicotine, like withdrawal from any narcotic, is not easy. The symptoms can include myriad discomforts, from headaches and cramping in the stomach to mood swings and depression. What most people who have tried to quit and gone back to smoking may not have done is just stuck with the process long enough. The truth is that most of the symptoms of withdrawal are over and done within a month of quitting - often sooner - while the long-term effects of continuous smoking will end up shortening a person's life by a least a decade. Many smokers never live to see their grandchildren grow up.
More Strategies to Cope with Withdrawal Symptoms
However, since you've decided to quit smoking and you're definitely sticking with it, it is helpful to use some strategies to make the transition through withdrawal as smooth as possible. We continue with our suggestions of things you can do to manage the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and hopefully instill some positive, life-long habits along the way.
5. Honor your efforts with some pampering. Quitting smoking is hard work and every day without a cigarette is a day to celebrate your victory. Reward yourself at the end of a "hard day of quitting" with something simple but kind to yourself. Make a list of nice things you can do for you, like:
- A hot bubble bath
- A deliciously scented candle
- A cup of tea and a good book
- Dinner out
- A new CD of soothing music
- A workout at the gym
By taking some time to refresh and restore yourself, you are recharging your batteries and de-stressing. Be kind and patient with yourself during those tough early days of quitting and remember that the rewards of quitting far outweigh the discomfort of withdrawal.
6. Control the mind chatter. Your first few weeks off cigarettes will likely find you having endless discussions with your mind as you battle one 24-hour craving after another. You'll hear chatter telling you that it's okay to have just one cigarette - after all, what harm can only one cigarette do? You can always quit again next week. They call this type of mind chatter "junkie thinking" and it is a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal. Hang in there and be strong because the fact is that a craving for a smoke hits hard but usually dissipates within three to five minutes. When it hits, practice some deep breathing and while you inhale deeply into your lungs think about the fact that it is air going in and not smoke. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, slowly and purposefully. Remember that a craving to smoke is not a command. You determine how much power it has over you. You might try surrendering to the feeling instead of fighting it. That doesn't mean you light up, it just means that you acknowledge it is there and it is part of the healing process. Soon it won't bother you at all.
7. Handling fatigue can be challenging. You may feel exhausted when you quit smoking as the high levels of toxins leave your body. If you do feel tired, a power nap is a great resource. Try going to bed earlier at night and establish a regular time to get up. By setting your circadian rhythm to a normal rising time, you will become tired at a normal time as well. Until the rhythm is established, take a nap through the day if you need it.
8. Develop a support network of friends and family who honor your commitment to quit and who will lend their emotional support. Another type of support that is very important is that received from a group of people who are going through or who have been through smoking cessation. These people understand your struggles very well - they've been there. Check into the forum we have at this site where you'll find others who can really identify and be of help and support. It's a great place to connect and to make friends.
9. You're here now. It's easy to slip into the past or gaze into the future, but the fact is that you are here now - this is the only moment in time you are sure of and it is in this place that you determine change in this minute. Focus on being smoke-free for now, today. Tomorrow comes soon enough - and when it does, then tomorrow it will be today. One day at a time - one step at a time.