Be Prepared for Challenges | American Lung Association

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Be Prepared for Challenges

You might hit some bumps in the road during your journey to quit smoking. Having a plan to meet these challenges is an important part of quitting for good.

Control Weight Gain

Some smokers gain weight when they stop smoking, but the average is only seven to 10 pounds. Even with this weight gain, you are still much better off than if you had continued to smoke. Balancing the right amount and variety of foods with physical activity is the best way to control weight during the quitting process. Some things you can try include:

  • Nibbling on low-fat snacks such as carrots, fresh fruit, plain popcorn or sugarless gum.
  • Participating in activities where smoking doesn't fit in, including swimming, jogging or brisk walking.

Curb Urges to Smoke

People who succeed in quitting are often the ones who plan how to cope with smoking urges. The urge to smoke will pass in three to five minutes—whether you smoke or not. Plan some simple things to do when an urge to smoke arises. You might:

  • Call a friend when you feel the urge to smoke.
  • Leave the situation that makes you want to smoke. For example, being at a party where alcohol is served may make you want a cigarette. You could walk around the block or better yet, stay away from parties and alcohol for the first few weeks.

Cope with Withdrawal Symptoms

Many smokers experience withdrawal symptoms during the first few weeks after they quit. Some common ones are:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling anxious or restless

You may also be grouchy, irritable, nervous or pushy. These symptoms will go away as your body rids itself of nicotine. A week or two may seem like a long time when you feel poorly, but it will get better.

Be Patient with Yourself

Be kind to yourself during your quit smoking journey. You are trying to break an addiction that may stem back years or even decades—that's no small feat! In addition to physical symptoms, you may feel irritable or short-tempered, even with well-meaning friends and family. Know that this will pass and that you'll be back to feeling like your usual self soon.

Take time to celebrate even small milestones during your journey to quit smoking. Set small and then larger goals, and reward yourself when you achieve them. Some ideas for rewards could include an afternoon at the movies, a new book, a special trip to your favorite restaurant or a new pair of running shoes. Celebrating your progress helps you stay on track and looking forward to achieving your next milestone.


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