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Survival Secrets...Coping With Quitting

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This area is a collection of posts from our bulletin boards and via email by people who have given some very inspiring advice on how they coped with different symptoms, like crying , lungs hurting, not being able to sleep, weight gain, irritability, lack of attention, concentration etc.

If you are interested in adding your thoughts please email me and I will read them over and possibly add them!

This was the first "Survival Secrets" added. It was contributed by Trish who posted this note on Sept. 2/98...on our bulletin board

I was just thinking what I would have liked to have found something like this in the first few days of my quit..advice from other smokers on how they coped with different symptoms, like crying , lungs hurting, not being able to sleep. If we "oldies" can post under each topic heading what helped us get thru it, and have it there for people to read while they are going thru it or even before and they can print it out, it would help so much I think. I remember not being able to sleep one night, and to post something and wait for someone to answer can seem like forever sometimes...I wished I could have just looked it up and read what other smokers had said about it immediately . I never found comfort in the other literature from the usual sources about how to deal with the withdrawal symptoms...just that they should be gone after a week...well, what about when they aren't...it scares you to think that you are not normal...and with advice readily availble from other quitters, it would really help comfort a lot of the newbies. I think a lot of us have some great ideas on how to cope with different things. What do others think about a "survival secrets" page dealing with different symptoms from former smokers?

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from Jocar...

The deep breathing excercises work very well for me. I have also taken up running a few miles every week, but ANY excercise will be benificial. Another very good thing to do is to go have your teeth cleaned, it helps to remove all evidence of tobacco use from your body. Drink a huge amount of water and think of how awful that cigarette would taste after not hoaving one for a couple of days.

from H...

Having smoked for 19yrs (I'm only 33yrs of age, sad, very sad) and having tried umteem times to stop before, I am SO proud to say I've been stopped for nearly 6 6 weeks now and you know what, it's actually getting easier, thought for a while that itwouldn't, but it has. Michael is absolutely bang on the money about crying, I've cried bucketloads in just 6 weeks, so if you feel like crying, let rip, really howl, and YOU WILL FEEL BETTER. Also, an exercise program of some sort is invaluable and just when you are all thinking 'I just can't be bothered going down the gym etc, etc, there are other forms ofexercise........ such as.......... dare I say it........ making love...... my boyfriend and I are... lets just say, closer than before (he has stopped smoking too), so as they say MAKE LOVE NOT WAR.

Enjoy being a non-smoker.

from Erika...

By chewing sugarfree gum and watching television, or sticking to this board. 

from Aoidin...

on where the urge happens...
If I'm at work, by downing tools and running in to this board immediately, making a cup of coffee, running down to the shop for some gum etc.

If I'm at home...going for a cycle, making popcorn, painting my nails, beating up my boyfriend...ahhmmm, what? no, no, no!! *weg* 

from Vickie...

...simply saying..."gosh, I would love a cigarette"....seems to ease the pressure more than anything....
I made the mistake in the beginning of pretending I didn't want them...when I did....
Someone told me ....you choose not to smoke...that doesn't necessarily mean you don't want to smoke....
**ah!! light bulb on above Vickie's head**

also, grapes grapes and more grapes....

from Bob...

How I cope with urges varies depending on where I am.

If I am near my computer - I come here to this BB post a message. Often I will seek out another fellow sufferer to talk to. People always come to the fore with the exact medicine I need - be it love, compassion or motivation. I have discovered that nothing will keep me from smoking more than interaction with fellow quitters. So many times I have come here feeling my life is in shambles and have been lifted up by the "Blairsville Spirit".

If I am away from my computer, I have learned that I must stay on guard and be prepared for cravings when they come. As long as I am prepared for the cravings, I can resist them. It is when I get caught off guard that I am vulnerable. I have learned that no matter how strong the cravings are, they will go away within a couple of minutes. Also every time I resist, it makes me stronger. The Blairsville mantra "Smoking is not an option" is a big help for me also. Finally, I am also a believer and pray for help when the urge comes upon me.

That's what I do and it works for me.

from Tamie...

I would be honored to respond, Blair. In the beginning of the quit, I coped by doing a lot of physical things--walking, pacing, playing with the dog. Also, I spent a lot of time reading and posting on the bulletin board, and I cornered the market on hard candy. Later on, when the physical cravings were less, and the psychological cravings stronger, I started asking myself--each time--"what exactly would a cigarette do for you right now?" For the most part, the answer to that question contains lots of stuff that I don't want (coughing and hacking, living a lie, wondering if I will see my daughter graduate high school, so the urge goes away eventually, once I have decided that the things cigarettes would do are not things that I want to happen.
Hope this helps.

from Georgia...

As an ex-smoker I find I forget to breath deeply (as deep as when I smoked a cigarette). When an urge hits, I find myself literally tensed up. Taking a lot of slow, long deep breaths really helps get the oxygen back into my system and relaxes me.

from Tom

When I started this journey last November, my urges were of course, a lot more intense, even though they were lessened significantly by the Wellbutrin, they were still strong enough that I had to have a method to control them ready at all times that would work for me. Some of the methods I used at the beginning are still being used.
Probably my most used weapon for urges was and still is the Serenity Prayer! I have been known to drive around campus in one of our patrol vehicles SHOUTING those words at the top of my lungs over and over till the urge went away! I still use it if a particularly strong urge gets triggered by something unexpected.
Along with the Serenity Prayer, the most used suppressant would have to be the images I have of how it must have been for Bud Ellis, as related by Michael on his website. Those two tools plus the HAVEN of this SUPPORT GROUP and the magic that it performs have practically made those urges a thing to be dismissed as something trivial.
Since July 1 this year, I have one other tool to fight any urge that may happen, and that is the thoughts of my brother, Larry as he suffocated due to the lung cancer that had reduced his breathing effectiveness to less than 20% before he died.
You have my permission to use all my thoughts or any part of them as expressed here for purposes of advancing the effectiveness of your site. If my posting my sorrow would sway one smoker's opinion and lead that person to the freedom I have found, I would consider it worthwhile.
My everlasting Respect and Love

from Ronda...

I usually come to blairsville and talk about it, Or sometimes pick up the phone and call a friend. 
I think the main thing is not sitting alone and thinking about it!!! 
= Talk to someone.... You know in a pinch i've even called my mom or sister (and they are smokers) I wouldn't recommend that to everyone but if they even give the slightest hint that it would be okay to smoke again and usually someone wouldn't do this even though they smoke they'd like to see you succeed! But even if they do this always gives me more determination. But everyone 's different so if you can get to another quitter or a non-smoker or someone who is support to you and talk that means a lot!!!

from Mike...

Especially about admitting you're having a craving and getting on with it.
For me, I'd recognize that I was having a craving and not just getting all crabby. Take a couple of REALLY deep breaths, until you feel a little light-headed from the oxygen. Then it starts to fade away.

I also drink LOTS of water - that really helps. And, the occasional fat free mint or lozenge at work, pretzels and grapes (or fun fruits) at home.

from Katie...

Well, lets see, I was luckier than most because my real world best friend quit 6 months ahead of me, and I could vent to her. Also, family members were very supportive. I didn't have anyone trying to sabotage my quit this time (previously coworkers did). Big help there. 
Used the patch this time which reduced the intensity of the cravings to a manageable level. I used cross stitch and needle point and lots of arts and craft type stuff to keep both my hands and my mind busy. 
I also have a slew of houseplants and a small flower patch outside that needed attention. 
I went out in the back yard and literally barked at all the neighborhood dogs (including my two)when I was feeling irritable. 
My Boyfriend bought me flowers at the end of every week to celebrate the milestone. 
Somehow, knowing that people I loved that loved me back really wanted me to quit, knowing that the quit mattered to someone besides me proved to be a very powerful weapon against the cravings. 
Use any or all of this if you think it will help someone. 
Just an after thought, have you given any thought to a spot on your page with tips for how the family/friends can support someone who's quitting?

from Renee...

I generally don't have a problem with physical urges. It's the psychological urges that cause problems for me. They made me smoke again after my first quit. 
This time around, I realized that I would have psych. urges. (Thanks to this BB.) I do a couple of things to deal with the urges. 
I get busy. This takes my mind off smoking. Also, I ask myself if I will feel better if I smoke a cigarette. (I read that in a post on the BB). The answer is no. I'll feel worse. Giving in to the urges means I failed again. Also, I know I would quit again. So, it means I would have to go thru this again. I absolutely do not want to do that. It also means, I have chosen to make myself sick. 
I hope this helps someone. Reading that question in a post on this BB has helped me maintain my quit.

from James...

One thing I have found very helpful...

recognize your rituals and your stressors...instead of reading the paper and having a smoke, watch the news...if you have one with coffee, switch to herb tea, etc, etc...for me it was going on break at work...I now read a a few pages of a book in the car...rush hour traffic used to get me frazzled, so I make sure that I have tapes of music that i really like, and my ashtray has been filled with lifesavers lollipops....not enough can be said about lollipops...they occupy your mouth and your hands....d'ont be foolish enough to drink even a sip of alcohol if you quit for at least 64 weeks....as anyone knows booze/beer and cigs go together like salt and pepper...and 64 weeks?  If someone can manage to not smoke for that long they have a decent chance for a whole life of not smoking....and anytime you think of smoking...remember, nicotine is only one chemical in the darned things you have to worry about, there are over 600 carcinogenic chemicals in everyone...another additional 200 in menthols...best of luck everyone....


from Winnie...

Here are a few of my survival secrets that may be of some help to the
new quitter.
1. Come to Blair's Bulletin Board at least once a day!  The support is   extremely helpful, and it is so comforting to know that others are in the very same place as you are. 
2. Keep very, very busy the first week of your quit.  I made sure that I had very little "down" time from the minute I woke up until I went to bed, and I went to bed very early, because you can't smoke when you're asleep. 
3. Begin an exercise program of some sort.  This is beneficial for a couple of reasons.  First, it is so helpful (and some may say essential) to replace smoking with some other activity that is healthful.  Quitting smoking is a complete lifestyle change, and exercise fits perfectly into
that new, "healthy" life style.  Exercise also helps keep the depression that usually accompanies quitting at a manageable level, and in some, it prevents it completely.  And last but not least, it will help keep the weight gain at a minimum, by burning calories, and keeping your basal metabolic rate up (as nicotine was doing for you).
4. Keep healthy snacks around when there is that uncontrollable urge to put something in your mouth.  I used sunflower seeds, and bubble gum.  Those two activities satisfied both the oral fixation that smoking used to, and kept my hands busy when I was cracking shells.  (Obviously these two are mutually exclusive activities!)
5. Drink at least (8) 8 oz. glasses of water a day.  This also helps keep your mouth busy, and helps rid your body of all the ucky nicotene, and is just in general, a very healthy thing to do.
6. I quit cold turkey, so I didn't use Zyban, patches, etc. but I did use St. John's Wort for the mild depression that I had after quitting, and it helped tremendously.  It also seemed to suppress my appetite a bit, though I don't know if it's recommended for that use.  As others
have said, it helped keep me "focused" on my quit and that was really helpful.

Wow, I think that's enough~!

on Crying...from Michael...

I am nine days shy of being smoke-free for a year, and looking back the one thing I understand least about my quit is the crying.   I don't mind it, I'm not the macho type who thinks men shouldn't cry. On the contrary, I think crying is a great release, it's just that I didn't understand where the sudden sadness would come from.

There were days where everything was going fine and then all of a sudden...BAM! I'd start crying uncontrollably for no apparent reason. For a while I thought something was seriously wrong with me psychologically, but slowly I learned that it's all part of the quit. The reason for it I think is that we are trying to cope mentally with a great loss, very similar to grieving the loss of a loved one.  Smokes were a bigger part of our lives than even our spouses or our children. After quitting I guess we go through somewhat of a mourning period, and any little thing can set off a good cry. The thing we need to remember is that we are grieving the loss,
actually the suppression, of our addiction. The way to handle it is to turn the tears into tears of joy and victory. That way they serve to strengthen your quit instead of making you want to pick up.

...oh, and guys......it's ok to cry....really... :-))


several great tricks from Tammy...

  • Sing out loud a lot. Singing makes you work you respiratory system better than anything else and if you're singing, you can't smoke. You may want to supply friends and family with ear plugs -- but SING!
  • Eat "ky and shpy" which means chew and spit -- seeds like pumpkin or sunflower, tiny dried fruits etc. It satisfies the oral urges.
  • Make or buy a hypnosis tape to program your mind to perform distraction behaviour or thought altering. I'm at the point after listening to my tape at bed time for 3 weeks where I can't complete the thought "I want a cigarette" most of the time. It usually becomes "I want a glass of water, or a piece of gum, or to sing a song". When I do complete the thought "I want a cigarette" I end up screaming out loud at myself: "Yeah, what for?"
  • Remind yourself of the fact that if someone asked you to put a lit cigarette in their dog's mouth, you wouldn't do it, but you'd do it to yourself. What does that say about your level of "self-love"?
  • Think of the obscene amounts of money that tobacco company executives make by producing poison for the pathetic addicts.
  • If you partake of other smokeable herbs, change your method of doing so. Use a pipe, water pipe or make brownies or spaghetti or soup. Just don't roll it!

from Cora...

A couple of days after giving up I went down to my mailbox to get my mail, I passed one of my roses and that was when I realized that it was scented, I had never smelt it before as I had lost my sense of smell that totally blew me away. I started to buy scented flowers and shrubs for my gardens and inside the house I use a burner and scented oils to make the house smell lovely, It certainly beats the smell of cigarette smoke and I feel so repulsed when I think of how me and my house used to stink of smoke.

from Betty...

One thing that helps me to not smoke is to keep a jar of cinnamon sticks on my desk, on my counter top, and in my car. If the urge to smoke hits me hard, I suck or chew on a cinnamon stick. Sometimes, I just hold it like a cigarette. The slight biting flavor of the cinnamon helps to get rid of the smoke craving.


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