What to Expect When You’re Expecting…to Quit

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Coping


Stopping the regular use of tobacco products is a tremendous step toward bettering your overall health, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. For most people, tobacco use is an addiction, and like any addiction, it takes great focus, dedication and strength to make the change permanent.

Here are some of the most commonly faced challenges when it comes to quitting:

Cravings

The good thing about cravings is even though they are powerful, they often pass quickly. The next time you get a craving, stop and wait for five minutes before reaching for a cigarette. At the end of the five minutes, it’s likely the urge to smoke will have weakened or disappeared completely.

During this time, think about how you feel in that moment. Beyond wanting a cigarette, what else is going on? Are you doing something that you normally associate with smoking, like driving in your car or drinking a cup of coffee? Are you bored or stressed? Are you near others who are smoking? Hopefully you can learn something about what prompts you to grab a cigarette. As a longer term goal, work on some strategies to avoid the temptation to smoke. For example, if you know that you always crave a cigarette when you’re driving, consider keeping a pack of gum in your car to occupy your mind on something else.

Withdrawals

Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the person. Going through nicotine withdrawal is uncomfortable, but it is not dangerous to your health, so don’t start smoking again to “make yourself feel better!”

Instead, work with your doctor or smoking cessation coach on ways to lessen your personal symptoms. Some ideas may include taking regular breaks, if you experience difficulty concentrating, or practicing yoga if you experience irritability. Your doctor may also recommend certain medications or products that can help you lessen your dependence over time, like nicotine patches or gums.

Changing Your Social Habits

Before you stop reading, we don’t mean getting a new set of friends if your friends all smoke. But many smokers associate smoking with social situations, so you’ll need to form an action plan for the next time you go out. Consider having a friend or family member commit to helping you not smoke. When you do get a craving, let them know so they can remind you of why you’ve decided to quit and maybe even suggest a change in activity or venue.

You may also consider avoiding or cutting back on the amount of alcohol when you first quit smoking. Because it can lessen your inhibitions, drinking may cause you to give in to temptation more easily.

Managing Stress

Another commonality among regular smokers is that they believe smoking helps to relieve stress. Research has proven that belief to be false, but if you are serious about quitting, the bottom line is you will need to find new ways to prevent and cope with stress so you don’t reach for another cigarette.

Here are some ideas that may help you reduce stress in your life:

  • Eating healthier
  • Exercising
  • Reducing your alcohol consumption
  • Meditating regularly
  • Spending more time with friends and family

Practicing Weight Control

Not everyone gains weight when they quit smoking. And for those that do, the total amount is generally pretty small. If you’re concerned about gaining weight once you quit, just make sure you plan for it. Stock up your refrigerator with fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid keeping any junk food in the house. If you find yourself eating due to specific emotions, like boredom or stress, revisit your stress reduction plan. How can you find ways to cope with those emotions that don’t involve picking up other unhealthy habits, like overeating or drinking too much?

Just remember that even though there are challenges that come with quitting, millions of people have done it, and you can too. To get help with quitting today, sign up online for Our Lady of the Lake’s free Smoking Cessation Program or call (225) 757-2474.

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