What to Expect
You may feel quite "tense" and agitated within 24 hours of quitting.
You may feel a tightness in your muscles--especially around the neck and shoulders.
These feelings will pass with time.
Recent studies have found that 60-90% of quitters report feelings of increased anxiety within 1 week of quitting.
If anxiety occurs, it will usually begin within the first 24 hours, peak in the first 1-2 weeks and disappear within a month.
Take a walk.
Take a hot bath.
Try a massage.
Try to take a few minutes out of your day to meditate, or do stretching exercises.
Set aside some "quiet time" every morning and eveninga time when you can be alone in a quiet environment.
Anxiety is usually measured as an increase in muscle tension as well as an increased sensitivity to muscle tension. Laboratory research shows that the anxiety produced from quitting tobacco may be due to temporary changes in your brain chemistry. There is some evidence that tobacco use actually improves anxiety so it may be that part of the anxiety felt when you quit is what non-smokers "normally" experience.
Most of the anxiety felt immediately after you quit is due to temporary changes.
Being around smokers
Expect some friends especially those who are smokers themselves, to end up trying to sabotage your efforts to cut down or quit.
The changes you intend to make may disturb friends and family members who are smokers.
Friends may feel that your efforts to control your smoking will put a strain on your friendship.
It will be tempting to join others for routine "smoke breaks."
You will probably find that you dont always want to smoke when you see someone else doing it. Its something special about the circumstance that triggers you.
Ask others not to smoke in your presence.
Provide an outside area where smokers may go if they wish to smoke. Post a small "No Smoking" sign by your front door.
If you are in a group and others light up, excuse yourself, and dont return until they have finished.
Do not buy, carry, light, or hold cigarettes for others.
Cut down with a buddy.
Try not to get angry when family, friends, or coworkers hassle you for quitting.
You must analyze situations in which watching others smoke triggers an urge in you. Find out what it is about that situation that really makes you want to smoke.
Many studies have reported the euphoric, stimulating, and anti-anxiety effects of smokingsmoking may actually make you feel happier, more alert, etc.
These feelings may reinforce tobacco use and you may have also associated these feelings with being around other smokers. When you quit, you may feel saddened by the loss of these feelingsbeing around smokers may make you feel even more saddened. Dont be sad think of what youve gained by quitting.
Your cravings will be strongest in the first week. Generally you will have individual "cravings" that last 30-90 seconds.
You may also experience "rapid fire" cravings where they follow each other in rapid succession. As the days pass, the cravings will get farther and farther apart.
Most cravings begin 6-12 hours after you stop, peak (stay high) for 1-3 days, and may last 3-4 weeks.
There is some evidence that mild occasional cravings may last for 6 months.
Remind yourself that cravings are situationalthey will pass.
Keep oral substitutes handy: carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, celery, raisins, sugarless gum all work to stop the psychological need.
Try this exercise: Take a deep breath through your nose and blow out slowly through your mouth, repeat 10 times. Hold the last breath while lighting a match, blow out slowly and blow out the match then crush it in an ashtray.
Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
Avoid situations/activities that you normally associate with smoking (e.g. drinking alcohol.)
Make a list of all your triggers for smoking and develop a "first-aid kit"
Sit down and relax
Review reasons for quitting
Talk with a friend about your urges and what you are doing about them.
Eat starchy, non-fat foods.
Take a nap or a shower.
As a smoker, you have an ideal nicotine dose level and you regulate that level by how much you smoke, how deeply you breathe, and by the kind of tobacco you use. When you quit, physiological cravings result from the body wanting more nicotine.
When you are exposed to smoking triggers or even when you use a small amount of nicotine, your mood changes and cravings can go up as well as your heart rate and blood pressure. Cravings are NOT "just in your head."
When you are feeling sad and blue and want to smoke, you know (deep down) that a cigarette is only a temporary answer.
Having a cigarette will only make you feel worse in the long run-you may get even more depressed because you could not stick with your decision to quit.
Having a prior history of depression is associated with more severe withdrawal symptoms-including more severe depression. Some studies have found that 17-30% of people with a prior history of major depression will have a new major depressive episode after quitting.
The incidence rate of major depression after quitting is low (i.e. 2%) if you have no prior history of depression.
If mild depression occurs, it will usually begin within the first 24 hours, continue in the first 1-2 weeks, and go away within a month.
Identify your specific feelings at the time that you seem "depressed." Are you actually feeling tired, lonely, bored or hungry? Focus on and address these specific needs.
Add up how much money you have saved already by not purchasing cigarettes and imagine (in detail) how you will spend your savings in six months.
Call a friend and plan to have lunch, go to a movie or to a concert.
Make a list of things that are upsetting to you and write down solutions for them.
Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. It acts as both a stimulant and a depressant, depending upon your mood and the time of day. It controls your mood by regulating the level of arousal of key parts of the brain and central nervous system.
You may feel unable to do one task for a long time.
You may put off or avoid difficult or unwanted tasks.
Cigarettes provided you with relaxation breaks. Now that you have quit, you still need to take a break. This may be quite difficult because cigarettes gave you a reason to stop working for 10-15 minutes and now you may have to manufacture a new reason.
Recent studies have found that 55-75% of quitters report problems with concentration within 1 week of quitting.
If difficulty concentrating occurs, it will usually begin within the first 24 hours, peak (stay high) for the first 1-2 weeks, and disappear within a month.
Take a break: gaze into a photo, look out a window, close your eyes and relax for ten minutes.
Try to come up with other things that you can do on a 10 minute break--maybe you can get some minor chores out of the way as a "break" from a repeated activity.
Do different tasks instead of focusing on any one activity for too long.
If you can, put off work when you feel unable to do it.
Do important tasks during the times when you feel alert.
Difficulty concentrating is one of the most commonly reported withdrawal symptoms. Results from a number of research studies indicate that quitting may "slow" the activity of a number of different brain chemicals and that this slowness may be reflected in drowsiness and poor concentration.
Drinking coffee or tea
You do not have to give up coffee or tea to quit smoking.
Expect to feel a strong urge to reach for a cigarette while drinking coffee or tea.
You will have to note which coffee/tea drink gives you an urge, and you will have to find an alternative to keep you from reaching for a cigarette.
You may be used to smoking when drinking coffee or tea during or after meals, during coffee/tea breaks, in your office, or in restaurants.
If you used to smoke while drinking coffee or tea, tell people you have quit, so they wont offer you a cigarette.
Between sips of coffee or tea, take deep breaths to inhale the aroma. Breathe deeply and slowly, while you count to five, breathe out slowly, counting to five again.
Try switching to decaffeinated coffee for a while, particularly if quitting has made you irritable or nervous.
Nibble on toast, crackers, or other low calorie foods. You may also want to do this while you drinkdip fat-free cookies etc. in your coffee/tea to keep your hands busy.
As you drink your coffee, get out a scratch pad, doodle, or make plans for the day.
If the urge to smoke is very strong, drink your coffee or tea faster than usual and then change activities or rooms.
Many studies have reported the euphoric, stimulating and anti-anxiety effects of smoking may actually make you feel happier, more alert, etc.
These feelings may reinforce tobacco use and you may have also associated these feelings with drinking coffee or tea.
Drinking coffee or tea may spark all the positive feelings that you have associated with this activity in the past. When you quit, you may feel saddened at the loss of these feelings and drinking coffee or tea without smoking may make you feel even more saddened. Be prepared and think about the long term benefits of life as a non-smoker.
Expect to want to smoke after meals or with others at a restaurant.
Expect the urge to smoke when you smell cigarette smoke at a restaurant.
Smoking urges may be stronger at different meal times, sometimes breakfast, sometimes lunch or sometimes dinner.
Your smoking urges may be stronger with certain foods like spicy or sweet meals or snacks.
When you stop smoking after meals, you can also expect others to be pleased now that you are not smoking at the table.
You, like many smokers, may feel the need to smoke after meals at home, at work, or out at a restaurant.
Your desire to smoke after meals may depend on whether you are alone, with other smokers, or with non-smokers.
Know what kinds of foods increase your urge and stay away from them.
If you are alone, call a friend as soon as youve finished eating.
Brush your teeth or use mouthwash right after meals.
If someone is at your home, have someone massage your shoulders.
If you have coffee or a fruit drink, concentrate on the taste.
Wash the dishes by hand after eatingyou cant smoke with wet hands!
Go for a brief walk after meals.
Nicotine stops hunger pains in your stomach for as long as one hour and it also makes the blood sugar level go up. When you quit, this is reversed.
Food may be used to get the same effect as cigarettes: stimulation, relaxation, pampering, time out, comfort, socialization etc. Smoking and eating are both ways to meet these needs, so when you quit smoking, you may eat more.
Withdrawal from nicotine enhances the taste of sweeter foods--some foods may actually taste better--and you may want to eat more of them.
You will "take a break" from working and find that you now have nothing to do.
You may feel very bored when waiting for something or someone. (e.g. a bus, your spouse, your kids).
About 41% of smokers say they sometimes smoke to overcome boredom.
Plan more activities than you have time.
For those empty minutes, make a list of things you like to do.
Move! Do not stay in the same place too long.
Carry a book or magazine for waiting times.
Look at what is going on around you. (e.g. notice the shape of the buildings you pass, listen to the sounds of the city/outdoors)
Carry something to keep your hands busy, like a Rubik's cube.
Hum a tune or favorite songmaybe even listen to a portable radio.
Go outdoors, if you can.
For smokers, boredom often brings the urge to smokethis urge may have a physical and chemical basis.
Nicotine controls the way you feel by controlling the level of excitement in key parts of your brain and central nervous system.
When you quit smoking, you may miss the increased excitement and good feeling that nicotine gave you. This may be true when you are feeling bored.
Facing the morning
When you wake up, begin thinking of your alternatives to smoking and the changes in your routine immediately.
Expect that your morning coffee will not taste the same without a cigarette.
For many smokers, lighting up is the first event of the day. Part of many peoples dependence on cigarettes evolves from a routine built mostly upon their chances to smoke. The morning can set the tone for the rest of the day.
Plan a different waking up routine.
Put your attention off smoking right away.
Be sure no cigarettes are available.
Begin each day with deep breathing and one or more glasses of water.
Make a list of early morning triggers, and avoid them.
Begin each day with a pre-planned activity that will keep you busy for an hour or more. If reducing, this will push that first cigarette to later in the day and if quitting cold-turkey, it will keep your mind and body busy so that you dont think about smoking for a while.
After six to eight hours of sleep, your nicotine level drops and the body develops a need for a quick boost of nicotine when you wake up.
Your body has become dependent on nicotine. Your mind must be ready to overcome this physical need. Before you go to sleep, make a list of things you need to avoid in the morning that will make you want to smoke.
Expect to become more aware of stress during your withdrawal. Non-smokers have found many ways to break the stress cycle without lighting a cigarette.
Almost 63% of smokers report smoking to handle stress.
You may become more aware of stress during withdrawal. This may be largely because using cigarettes actually relieved some of this normal stress by releasing powerful chemicals in your brain.
Know the cause of stress in your life (e.g. your job, your children, money).
Identify the stress signals (e.g. headaches, nervousness, insomnia or trouble sleeping).
Create peaceful times in your everyday schedule. (e.g. Set aside an hour where you can get away from other people and your usual environment.)
Try new relaxation methods and stick with the best one for you.
Rehearse and visualize your relaxation plan. Put your plan into action. Change your plan as needed.
Seek and learn relaxation techniques such as progressive relaxation.
Mental or physical tensions, strains, or distress caused by worries, responsibilities, and hassles, which you encounter in normal everyday life, can all be a part of stress.
Once nicotine enters your brain, it appears to stimulate production of a number of the brains most powerful chemical messengers.
These chemicals (epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, arginine, vasopressin, beta-endorphin, acetylcholine) are involved in: alertness, pain reduction, learning, memory, pleasure, and the reduction of both anxiety and pain.
When you smoke, the general effect is a temporary improvement in brain chemistry that you experience as enhanced pleasure, decreased anxiety, and a state of alert relaxation.
Having a drink
As a smoker, you may feel a strong urge to smoke when drinking beer, wine, or mixed drinks. Know this up front if you are going to drink.
Studies show that cigarette smoking is much more common among those who are regular drinkers.
Switch to non-alcoholic drinks during the first two weeks of withdrawal, especially fruit juices.
Stay away from your usual haunts for awhile.
Change drinks from "your usual."
For the first few weeks after quitting, drink only with non-smoking friends.
Dont drink at home or by yourself.
Studies have shown that if you are a drinker, you will tend to breathe deeper when you drink and smokemaking the negative effects of tobacco even worse.
When you are drinking alcohol, your control over your behavior is limited. When you try to quit smoking, it is tough enough to take control of your behaviourdrinking alcohol will make it even tougher to cope.
Many studies have reported that smoking, like drinking, may actually make you feel happier, more alert, etc. Over time you begin to associate smoking and drinking with pleasure--when quitting, you may feel deprived of some of this pleasure.
Increased appetite and weight gain
After quitting, you may feel stronger and more frequent hunger pangs.
After quitting, you may have a better sense of taste.
Weight gain is most often due to eating more after quitting.
Research has shown that 75% of all people who quit smoking do not gain weight and, of those who do gain weight, gain an average of 5-7 pounds!
Recent studies have found that 50-70% of quitters report feeling more hungry within 1 week of after quitting.
If feelings of hunger and/or weight gain occur, they will usually begin within the first 24 hours, peak in the first 1-2 weeks, and may last 1-6 months.
Do more physical activities (e.g. take the stairs instead of an elevator/escalator, park further away from the door to the office/mall/store etc.).
Select non-food rewardsnew CD, go see a new movie.
Chew sugarless gum or a cinnamon stick.
Drink more waterespecially before meals.
Plan meals ahead of time and dont skip meals.
Weigh yourself every day.
Eat plenty of fresh fruitcarry it with you to work, to school, everywhere!
Nicotine stops hunger pains in your stomach for as long as 1 hour and it also raises blood sugar level. When you quit, this is reversed.
Food may give the same effects as cigarettes: stimulation, relaxation, pampering, time out, comfort, socialization etc. Smoking and eating are both ways to meet these needs so when you quit smoking, you may eat more.
Withdrawal from nicotine enhances the taste of sweeter foods--some foods may actually taste better--and you may want to eat more of them.
You may wake up a lot during the night.
You may have trouble falling asleep.
You may dream about smoking.
While sleep may be disturbed, you may actually spend more time sleeping.
Withdrawal from nicotine may further disrupt an already disrupted sleep pattern but, in the long run, being smoke-free will help you sleep better.
Sleep disturbances may occur during the first 48 hours of quitting, but, your sleep will improve after the first week.
If sleep disturbance occurs, it will usually begin within the first 24 hours, remain strong for the first 1-2 weeks, and disappear within a month.
Dont drink coffee, tea, soda with caffeine after 6 pm.
Do drink herbal tea, decaffeinated coffee, fruit juices, and water.
Read up on relaxation/meditation techniques and try one.
Do not change your sleeping routine: always get up at the same time every morning.
Prepare for sleepbefore bed, allow for 15-30 minutes of "quiet time."
If you cant sleep, it may help to get up! Make productive use of your time instead of tossing and turningyou will probably sleep better the next night!
Nicotine is a stimulant and may delay sleep onset as well as decrease total sleep time.
Nicotine has also been found to both increase and decrease the amount of time you spend dreaming--and thus negatively affect your waking performance.
Irritability, anger and frustration
When you quit smoking, you may feel more "edgy" and short-tempered.
You may want to give up on certain tasks more quickly than usual.
You may be less tolerant of others behaviour.
You may get into more arguments with others.
Recent studies have found that 50-80% of quitters report increased feelings of irritability, anger, and frustration within 1 week OF quitting.
If feelings of irritability, anger, and frustration occur, they will usually begin within the first 24 hours, peak (stay high) the first 1-2 weeks, and disappear within a month.
Take a walk.
Soak in a hot bath.
Read up on relaxation/meditation techniques and use one.
Take one minute and, with your eyes closed, pay attention to your breathing pattern. Breathe in deeply through your nose and breathe out through your mouth.
When your body does not get nicotine, feelings of irritability, anger, and frustration will often result.
Quitting will temporarily change your brain chemistry. These temporary changes may result in your experiencing negative emotions.
You may still want to reach for a cigarette whenever you start relaxing if you had been doing so for years.
You may reach for a cigarette in order to ease the anxiety.
Recent studies have found that 60-90% of quitters report feelings of increased (higher) anxiety within one week of quitting.
If you feel anxious, it will usually begin within the first 24 hours after quitting, peak in the first 1-2 weeks, and disappear within a month.
Repeat this to yourself: "I can learn to relax without having a cigarette."
Engage in activities that use your hands, like sewing, carving, working puzzles, playing cards, etc.
Make an extra effort to share your leisure time with a friend, a child or even a pet.
If the urge to smoke gets too strong, stop relaxing and start doing something physical until the urge passes.
Deep breathing is a good way to deal with tension almost anywhere and at any time.
When nicotine enters your brain, it acts just like some of the natural chemicals that control arousal, alertness, and mood. So, when you smoke, these chemical changes can make you feel happy, less anxious, and more relaxed.
When you quit smoking, your brain activity slowly returns to normal. The natural chemicals in your body will still regulate arousal, alertness and mood but you may miss the instant kick that cigarettes provided.
You may feel unable to sit still for long periods of time.
You may feel the need to do something with your hands.
You may think, "I should be doing something else now."
These thoughts and feelings will generally pass after a week or two. You may still feel bursts of restlessness for up to a month after quitting.
Recent studies have found that 55-75% of quitters report increases in restlessness within one week of quitting.
If restlessness occurs, it will usually begin within the first 24 hours, remain strong the first 1-2 weeks, and disappear within a month.
Listen to your body. If you feel that you need to move around, you probably need a break get up and stretch, go for a brief walk.
Expect feelings of restlessness --take regular 10 minute mental and physical breaks from whatever work you are doing. Be active during those breaks walk, stretch, run.
You may want to try squeezing a rubber ball or one of many "stress relief" items to help keep your hands busy.
Restlessness may be due to the lack of nicotine in the bodys system. It may also be due to biochemical changes in your brain as well as more conditioned responses to various smoking situations.
Now that you have quit smoking, you may not know what to do with yourself in situations that used to be associated with smoking.
Remembering the good times
You may feel a need to smoke when you do fun things you used to do as a smoker.
A large number of ex-smokers feel like smoking when they think back to happy times that included cigarettes, such as a cup of coffee, sitting with friends, quiet times, driving, etc.
These feelings will be strongest in the first two weeks after quitting.
Figure out which memories make you want to smoke most and learn to manage them.
Take up some new activities such as walking, reading, a hobby, playing a sport or attending community events.
Repeat the following: "If Id known then what I know now, I never would have started smoking."
Focus on the thought that you will be able to enjoy your good memories longer, now that youve quit smoking.
Studies have found that smoking can make people feel happy, stimulated and less anxious.
These feelings may make you want to use tobacco and, when quitting, you may feel sad for the loss of these feelings brought on by tobacco.
Something as simple as a smell, a sound, a color or a voice can make you think of a cigarette. You may feel that you have lost a major source of happiness, but as an ex-smoker you will gain so much more.
Finishing a hard job or celebrating a special occasion might lead you into wanting to treat yourself with a cigarette. Find out what it is about certain situations that make you feel that you have earned a cigarette. Be on your guard at these critical times.
Feelings of wanting to treat yourself with a cigarette may happen along with regular cravings for cigarettes.
Most of these cravings will begin 6-12 hours after you stop, stay strong for 1-3 days, and may last up to 3-4 weeks.
Spoil yourself for a couple of months (e.g. buy a little gift for yourself for every week you dont smoke, go out to dinner once a week or see a movie).
Think of non-smoking rewards; take time to read a book, listen to a favourite tape or telephone a friend.
Put the money you are saving by not smoking, into a jar everyday. Keep a list of things you want to buy with the money and buy them.
Remind yourself that your real reward will come later in several extra years of health.
Nicotine controls your mood by controlling the level of stimulation to key parts of the brain and central nervous system.
When you quit smoking, you may miss the increased stimulation and positive mood that nicotine provided but as a non-smoker you will gain so much more.
Talking on the telephone
Expect to be nervous because you want something in your hand while on the phone.
You may want to smoke during every phone call, only during certain phone calls or only during calls made at specific times of the day.
Be prepared the urges will vary.
Keep cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, and lighters away from your telephone.
Pick up a pencil and have a large memo pad for doodling.
Hold the phone with the hand you used for smoking.
While you are on the phone, walk around as much as possible.
Keep some gum by the phone; chew while you talk.
Note down which calls make you want to smoke. Do specific types of calls or calls made at a certain time affect you more? Is calling a certain person (or certain people) more difficult?
Each day, make a list of the difficult calls that you have to make and get them out of the way early.
Many studies have reported the euphoric, stimulating, and anti-anxiety effects of smoking may actually make you feel happier, more alert, etc.
These feelings may make you want a cigarette and you may have also associated these feelings with having a satisfying telephone conversation.
Having a telephone conversation may spark all the positive feelings that you have associated with this activity in the past. When you quit, you may feel the loss of these feelings and speaking on the phone without smoking may make you feel even more at a loss.
Traveling by car
Expect to want to reach for a cigarette when driving a car or traveling as a passenger.
Expect to want something to do, so turn your radio on or put on your favourite tape or CD and sing along.
On longer trips, you may find yourself getting more sleepy than usual.
Like many smokers, you may like to light up when driving to and from work as a means to: relieve stress, stay alert, relax, or just pass the time.
Your desire to smoke may be stronger and more frequent on longer trips.
Clean your car and make sure to use deodorizers to hide the tobacco smell.
"This urge will go away in a few minutes."
"So, Im not enjoying this car ride. Big Deal! It wont last forever!"
"My car smells clean and fresh!"
"Im a better driver now that Im not smoking while driving."
Things to do: Remove the ashtray, lighter, and cigarettes from your car.
Ask friends not smoke in your car.
If not driving, find something to do with your hands.
Take an alternate route to work.
For a little while, avoid taking long car trips. If you do, take plenty of rest stops.
Keep non-fattening snacks in your car (i.e. licorice and gum.)
Take fresh fruit with you on long trips.
Plan stops for water, fruit juice, sodas, etc.
You may have become used to smoking while drivingto relax, stay alert, etc.
There is some evidence that smoking actually does make you feel more awake and alert. In the past, you may have relied upon this during both short and long rides.
TV programs may provide you with many "triggers" to smoke (i.e. movies that show smoking, re-runs of old detective shows, etc.)
The time of day that you watch TV may also be a smoking "trigger." For example, you may be used to smoking when watching a morning news program or a late night talk show.
When smoking in the house, you may be used to smoking whenever you watch TV.
You may also be more likely to smoke only while watching specific programs.
Get rid of cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters.
Sit in a different place.
Practice relaxationtake a minute and, with your eyes closed, pay attention to your breathing pattern. Breathe in deeply through your nose and breath out through your mouth.
If you fall asleep-enjoy it.
Have low fat snacks handy.
Channel surf away from high trigger content showschange the channel when you see smoking!
Try watching at different times of the day.
When you quit smoking, you may feel deprived of the increased stimulation and positive mood that is brought on by tobacco use.
Something as simple as a smell, a sound, a color or a voice can remind you of cigarettes and of the feelings brought on by smokingtelevision provides many such "cues!"
You may have also come to associate both TV and smoking with relaxing. Now that you have given up smoking, something may feel out of place.