7 Things to Expect When You Stop Smoking
Whether you’re undecided about quitting or are recommitting, being prepared for the road ahead is critical to your success. There are several physical, emotional, and social situations you can expect to encounter when you stop smoking. Knowing exactly what to expect may just be the key to helping you stay quit!
You may make unexpected pitstops along your journey, but using this map can help you see them coming!
What to Expect When You Stop Smoking
From Day 1 to five years down the road you could experience several common results of quitting smoking. The key is being prepared and taking them in stride.
1. You May Not Always Feel Motivated
Even if you were certain you wanted to quit when you threw out your last pack of cigarettes, you may have moments of doubt. You may question whether you want to keep going or if you’re strong enough to stop smoking forever. In these moments, remember why you decided to quit in the first place and look at how far you’ve come.
Whether it was one hour or 300 days, did you make it this far — to this very moment — to give up now? Think about how this singular moment fits into the variety of thoughts you’re going to have just today. Now keep pushing!
2. You’ll Have Cravings
In moments of doubt or desire, you may get strong cravings. Again, focus on how tiny this moment is in time and remind yourself that it will pass. Ask yourself to wait 15 minutes before you decide if you’ll smoke. Many times, the craving will be gone!
If you do decide to give in to a craving, think of it as a challenge rather than a failure. You can decide to quit again right away and, this time, you’ll know what to expect when a craving hits.
3. Watch out for Triggers
Because cravings can be so strong, you’ll want to identify your triggers as soon as possible. Ask yourself when you first started smoking and why. Did you start as a social smoker? If so, you’ll know that social situations where others are smoking may be tough for you. Similarly, if you started as a way to deal with stress or anxiety, you’ll know you need to prepare alternatives before stressful or anxiety-provoking situations.
A great way to determine your triggers is to keep a journal of your cravings. Write down the day, time, and what was happening each time you get a craving. Review your list to see if you can make any connections.
Common triggers include:
- Smelling cigarettes
- Being around others who are smoking
- Drinking alcohol
- After dinner
- Driving or being in the car
- Taking a break or looking at a screen
- Feeling bored or lonely
- Feeling angry or impatient
4. Prepare for Withdrawal
The intensity of your withdrawal symptoms will vary based on factors like your lifestyle, how much you’ve been smoking, and the strength of your nicotine addiction. Expect to feel a little “off” as your body readjusts to life without nicotine. You may experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms, including:
- Anxiety or restlessness
- Cloudy thinking
- Trouble sleeping
- Hunger and/or weight gain
- Flu-like symptoms
These symptoms may be normal, but that doesn’t make them easy to deal with. Reach out to a doctor or therapist for professional help in getting through withdrawal and cravings.
5. Feel Your Body Start to Heal
Twenty minutes after you stop smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Tons of other good things will happen in the next few weeks as your risk of heart attack drops. Your lung function and circulation will improve, you’ll cough less, and your senses of smell and taste will grow. You’ll even have more energy when you quit smoking!
Take note of any good changes to help you stay motivated when a craving hits!
6. Not Everyone Will be Onboard to Stop Smoking
Your significant other may not quit with you. Your co-workers may be skeptical. Your friends may doubt you. Remind yourself why you decided to stop smoking in the first place, then take a step forward.
Avoid places where others are smoking by going to smoke-free bars and restaurants, staying inside when others are smoking, and not going to places you commonly used to smoke. If there’s a smoker in your house, establish smoke-free areas and do not accompany them when they are smoking.
7. It May Take Multiple Attempts (and that’s OK!)
Some people who stop smoking make that decision upwards of eight times before it sticks for good. No matter what slips you up, how long it’s been since your last attempt at quitting, or how many times you’ve already tried, give it another go.
When you’ve got reliable tips to help you quit smoking, your chances of success skyrocket. Take time to establish a goal you can meet and get started!