10 Things to Stop Doing When You Quit Smoking
We all want this quit to be the quit—the one that lasts us a lifetime. We’re looking for permanent freedom from nicotine addiction when we stub out the last cigarette, signaling the beginning of smoking cessation—even though most of us doubt our ability to succeed for the long-term.
With some education about what to expect when we quit smoking and a few tools to help us along, we can all find the freedom we dream so much of, a life that no longer includes thoughts of smoking or the smallest twinge of desire for a cigarette.
Misconceptions about the nature of nicotine addiction and the process of quitting tobacco can set smokers who are trying to quit up for failure. Build a strong quit program by educating yourself about what to expect when you stop smoking.
It is a natural tendency to quit smoking and expect to be over it within a month. That would be nice (very nice!), but it doesn’t work that way.1
When we quit smoking, we’re letting go of a habit that most of us have carried for many years, if not all of our adult lives. It’s only fair to expect that breaking down the old associations that tied us to smoking and replacing them with new, healthier habits will take some time.
Sit back, relax, and think of time as one of your best quit buddies. The more time you put between you and that last cigarette you smoked, the stronger you’ll become. Have patience with yourself, and with the process
Don’t Worry About the Future
Nicotine withdrawal plays mind games with us early on in smoking cessation. We think about smoking all of the time, and we worry that we’ll always miss our cigarettes. It’s called “junkie thinking,” and we all go through a certain amount of it as we recover from nicotine addiction.
If you find yourself feeling panicked about your smoke-free future, pull out of it by focusing your attention only on the day you have in front of you. It takes practice and patience to stay in the here and now, but it can be done, and it is a great way to maintain control over your quit program. It is the truth that today is where your power to affect change in your life is, and always will be. You can’t do a thing about what happened yesterday, or about what is yet to come tomorrow, but you sure can control today.
We all spend so much time living in the past or the future, while the present moments of today go by unnoticed. The next time your mind wanders ahead or back, consciously pull yourself out of it by narrowing your attention to the moments you’re living right now.
Don’t Be Negative
It’s been said that the average person has approximately 66,000 thoughts on any given day and that two-thirds of them are negative. It will probably come as no surprise that we aim many of those negative thoughts directly at ourselves. Face it, we’re almost always our own worst critics.
Start paying attention to your thoughts, and banish those that don’t serve your best interests.1 Be kind to yourself and stop lamenting the things you can’t change, such as the years you spent smoking. Look at past quit attempts not as failures, but as experiences you can learn from. Think about all of the positive changes you’re creating in your life by quitting tobacco now and remember to use the value of today to your advantage.
Successful long-term cessation always starts with our thoughts.
Keep your eyes on the prize and develop an attitude of gratitude. We have a way of believing what we tell ourselves over and over, so don’t feed yourself negatives. Affirm the changes you are working to create in your life, and action will follow more easily.
Don’t Neglect Yourself
Early smoking cessation is a time when you should be taking extra care to make sure all of your physical needs are met. The following list of tips will help you weather nicotine withdrawal more comfortably:
- Eat a well-balanced diet
Your body needs good quality fuel now as it works to flush the toxins from cigarettes out of your system.
- Get more rest
Chances are, nicotine withdrawal will leave you feeling fatigued for a few weeks. If you’re tired, don’t fight it. Sleep more if you can.
- Drink water
Water is a great quit aid. It helps you detox more quickly, works well as a craving-buster, and by keeping yourself hydrated, you’ll feel better overall.
- Exercise daily
Exercise benefits both physical and mental health, and it’s another good way to manage cravings to smoke. Walking is a low-impact aerobic workout that is a good choice2 for those of us leading inactive lives. Be sure to check in with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.
- Take a daily multi-vitamin
Cigarettes deplete our bodies of many nutrients, so give yourself the boost that a good multi-vitamin provides for the first few months of smoking cessation. It may help you regain your energy more quickly.
Taking care of your body, especially as you move through early cessation, will help you minimize the discomforts of nicotine withdrawal.
Don’t Drink Alcohol
Alcohol and tobacco go hand-in-hand. New quitters are tender. Putting yourself into a social setting where you’re tempted to drink alcohol too soon after quitting can be dangerous. Don’t rush it. The time will come when you can have a drink without it triggering the urge to smoke, but don’t expect that to be within the first month, or perhaps even the first few months.
We’re all a little different in how we move through the process of kicking nicotine addiction, so relax any preconceived notions you might have about how long recovery should take. Instead, focus on your own situation. If there is an engagement coming up that involves alcohol and you feel nervous about that, take it as a signal to proceed with caution. Consider postponing until you’re feeling stronger. And if that’s not an option, work out a plan ahead of time for how you’ll manage the event smoke-free.
It’s no exaggeration that you are working hard to save your life by quitting smoking, so give cessation the attention it deserves.
Keep your quit program in the top slot of your list of priorities for as long as it takes. You should do whatever you need to do to maintain your “smobriety.”
Don’t Overdo It
We’ve talked about taking care not to neglect our physical health while going through nicotine withdrawal, but our emotional well-being is every bit as important. Stress and anger are probably two of the biggest smoking triggers we face,3 and they can build up and threaten our quit programs if we’re not careful. Early cessation creates its own tension, and that can be overwhelming when paired with the stresses of daily life if you let it be.
Don’t let yourself get run down to the point of exhaustion, and take time every single day to relieve stress with an activity that you enjoy.
Whether it’s time alone with a good book, a hot bath, or working on a hobby, think of this as insurance for your quit program, not as time spent selfishly.
When you’re well-rested and calm, you are much better equipped to meet the daily challenges smoking cessation presents, so spoil yourself a little each day
Don’t Take Yourself too Seriously
You will have bad days. Expect and accept that. Such is smoking cessation, and such is life. On those off days, vow to put yourself in “ignore mode.” In other words, don’t focus on the negative atmosphere of your thoughts.1 Instead, do what you can to distract and ignore your bad mood. Sometimes the best thing we can do is get out of our own way. Our minds can make small issues big and create drama out of every little thing when our moods are out of whack.
When you have a bad day, use it as an excuse to pamper yourself a little. If all else fails, call it a day earlier than usual and go to bed.
Nine times out of ten you’ll wake up feeling 100% better the next day, and when you do, you’ll be grateful to still be smoke-free.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help
Statistics show that people who quit smoking with a healthy support system in place have a much higher rate of long-term success with smoking cessation. In addition to the support you might receive from friends and family, consider adding some online support to your quit program.4 The smoking cessation forum here offers some of the best support the Internet has to offer.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who know exactly what you are going through is worth its weight in gold.
Don’t Think You Can Smoke Just One Cigarette
Many a good quit program has been lost to thoughts of being able to control our smoking habits. Don’t fall for it. The only way to keep the beast at bay is to keep nicotine out of your system.5 If you decide to go ahead and smoke just one cigarette, or for just one night, chances are you’ll be back to the slavery that nicotine addiction is in short order. You may even find yourself smoking more than you used to.
When it comes to smoking cessation, there is no such thing as just one cigarette. They travel in packs.
Just as success with smoking cessation begins in the mind, so does a smoking relapse. Always. If unhealthy thoughts of smoking come up, and you can’t shake them, it’s time to renew your resolve.
Don’t Forget Why You Wanted to Quit
You quit smoking for a reason. Probably several. Don’t let time and distance from the habit cloud your thinking. Keep your memory green by reviewing your reasons for quitting often.5 They will never be less true as time goes by, but they can feel less urgent if you’re not careful.
Smoking cessation is a journey. Take it one simple day at a time, and you’ll find that what started out as a difficult task soon enough becomes an enjoyable challenge.
Source: 10 Things to Stop Doing When You Quit Smoking| Verywell