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.
Controlling Weight Gain
Some people gain weight when they stop smoking but the average amount 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 or even avoid gaining 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.
- Find a fun activity where smoking doesn't fit in, like jogging, walking or even dancing.
Overcoming Urges to Smoke
One important technique when quitting smoking is to plan how you'll cope with smoking urges. The urge to smoke will pass in three to five minutes—whether you smoke or not. Figure out the situations where you might feel a craving to smoke, then plan some simple things to do instead when that urge arises. You might:
- Call or text a friend and ask them to distract you for a few minutes.
- 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 a first few weeks as you're quitting smoking.
Coping with Withdrawal Symptoms
Many tobacco users experience withdrawal symptoms during the first few weeks after they quit. Some common symptoms:
- 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 and using a quit-smoking medication can help. 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 probably goes 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 for milestones like a day smokefree, a week smokefree and so on then reward yourself when you achieve them. Some ideas for rewards include downloading new music, an afternoon at the movies, a new book and a night out on the town. Celebrating your progress helps you stay on track and keeps you looking forward to your next milestone.