Have a strict ‘no puff’ policy
Commit to not having even a single puff after you have quit. Having ‘just one cigarette’ almost always leads to a full relapse and you will need to start all over again. Don’t think ‘just one won’t hurt’. It will!
One day at a time
Concentrate on just getting through to the end of the day. The first week or two are the hardest, so take one day at a time. This advice may sound like just another cliché, but many smokers have found it makes a big difference between quitting successfully or not.
It is important to plan ahead, but don’t worry about how you will cope at the office Christmas party at the end of the year.
If you are taking stop-smoking medication, the cravings and withdrawal symptoms should be manageable. If they are troublesome, your medication may need to be adjusted.
Cravings only last 2-3 minutes, although that may feel like forever! Distract yourself by thinking or doing something else and they will pass. Cravings get weaker and less frequent over time but can last for many years.
Nicotine withdrawal symptoms are temporary and mostly settle within a couple of weeks as your body adjusts. It is helpful to see these as recovery symptoms, a sign of the body healing itself.
Common withdrawal symptoms are
- Irritability, frustration, aggression
- Increased appetite and weight gain (tends to be long lasting)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depressed mood
- Disturbed sleep
Other effects of quitting
- Cough or sore throat in the first weeks after quitting
- Mouth ulcers
Keep busy and active
You will have more time on your hands when you quit and keeping busy will help distract you from thinking about cigarettes. It may help to make a list of activities you could do when you are feeling bored.
Don’t forget to exercise regularly. Even a short 10 minute walk reduces cravings, withdrawal symptoms, relieves stress and helps prevent weight gain. Try to exercise on most days.
When a craving strikes, it is easy to forget why you are putting yourself through this discomfort! It can help to make a list of why you want to quit on a small card and carry this around with you. Pull out the card when necessary to remind yourself why quitting is so important.
Learn to say no
Seeing others smoke or being offered a cigarette is a common cause of going back to smoking. Therefore, it is helpful to plan how to say no when it happens as it will happen sooner or later
Examples of how to refuse a cigarette are:
- ‘No thanks Bob, I don’t smoke anymore.’
- ‘Thanks for offering Kate, but I quit smoking and don’t want to smoke ever again.’
- ‘No thank you Pete, I’m a non-smoker now.’
What if you slip?
Slips in the first week or two are usually due to nicotine withdrawal and may be a sign that you need more medication.
If you have a slip, don’t beat yourself up! It happens. The important thing is to get back on track as soon as possible to avoid slipping into a full relapse.
A slip is a valuable learning experience. Why did it occur? How can you deal with that situation if it arises again?
If you are on stop-smoking medication, it is important to continue taking it after a slip. Keep your nicotine patch on and continue to take your tablets or other treatment. Your medication will help you get back in control again.
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Caffeine and alcohol
Remember to reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake, usually by about a half.
Last Modified: 15-01-2015