Tips for a Successful Quit-Smoking Day
You've done your homework, made your
plan, and tossed out all your cigarettes. Now the big day is here. It's day one of your
plan to quit smoking. You've probably heard that nicotine withdrawal is unpleasant. And
that most people need to quit several times before they reach their goal. But if you can
make it through this first day and this first week, when nicotine withdrawal symptoms are
at their worst, you'll be on your way to success.
One of the most important things you
can do right now is remind the people around you that today is the day you are quitting
cigarettes and ask for their help. This might mean asking some people not to smoke around
you. Then you won't be tempted to give in to a craving.
How you might feel today
You may have a range of nicotine
withdrawal symptoms today or during this first week. It's not uncommon to have 4 or more
of these reactions:
You can reduce these symptoms by
using nicotine replacement products. These products can help ease some of the symptoms
so that you can focus on the emotional aspects of quitting. They can also increase your
likelihood of successfully quitting. Some of these products are over-the-counter (gum,
patches, lozenges). Others need a prescription (inhalers, nasal sprays). If you use an
over-the-counter product, be sure you are using the correct strength based on your
smoking history. If your healthcare provider has prescribed nicotine replacement
products, use them as directed to help ease symptoms. Antidepressants are sometimes
helpful. If your provider suggested these, make sure you understand how and when exactly
to take them.
Getting through tough moments
Here are no-cost or low-cost strategies for meeting today's challenges:
Plan a new morning ritual. If smoking was a big part of how you started
every day, create new positive habits. This may include making a healthy
breakfast from scratch. Ideally, the activity should last an hour or more. It
should keep you busy and distracted.
Plan activities. Schedule activities that you enjoy, but that you don't
link to smoking. This helps you to stay busy and not feel bored or frustrated.
It's OK to bribe yourself a little bit, too. Reward yourself after you get through
the afternoon without a cigarette by going to the movies or getting a
Lean on others for support.
Ask friends and family to help motivate you.
Reach out to support groups available both in person and online. Don't be afraid
to contact them. You want to create a network of cheerleaders who will keep you on
Drive differently. Maybe you used to smoke in your car on your way to work
or to the supermarket. You may need to change your route, listen to new music, or
find another way to drive without smoking. You might even want to join a carpool
or take a train to shake up your daily commute.
Get physical. Taking a walk or jog or doing any kind of physical activity
that you really like is helpful. It can reduce feelings of anxiety, anger,
frustration, and stress that are often part of nicotine withdrawal.
Fidget. You may have liked the feeling of a cigarette in your hand. If so,
find a small object that you can play with instead. This might be a paperclip,
pencil, or even a squishy stress ball.
Keep your mouth busy. Try chewing sugar-free gum, sucking on hard candy,
or snacking on fruits and veggies whenever you get a craving. Have all these
choices handy at all times.
Take a deep breath. Do deep breathing exercises as often as you need them
to ease stress. Every time you exhale, remind yourself that the urge to smoke will
Seek out smoke-free distractions. Take advantage of public smoking bans by
enjoying smoke-free places in your community. Enjoy the fresh air filling your
Create a plan to manage triggers. You probably have favorite times and
places to smoke. Or certain stressful (but predictable) events that make you want
to light up. Plan your day so that you stay away from as many of your trigger
situations as possible. Have a substitute activity you can do when a trigger is
unavoidable. This could be drinking a glass of water instead of smoking during
scheduled coffee breaks.
Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol weaken your resolve to follow a number of
healthy lifestyle choices. And it also often acts as a trigger for smoking. Stay
away from any specific drinks you used to enjoy with a cigarette.
Distract yourself. If you have extra time on your hands, keep those hands
busy. Find an interesting book or magazine to read, or a puzzle to solve.
Know key contacts. If you have a weak moment, get encouragement so that
you don't reach for a cigarette. Call a friend, a loved one, the American Lung
Association helpline (800-548-8252), or the National Cancer Institute helpline
Online Medical Reviewer:
Eric Perez MD
Online Medical Reviewer:
Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer:
Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed:
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