- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Quit Smoking – How to Deal with Withdrawal Symptoms
Quitting smoking is difficult. Reducing or stopping nicotine causes the body to go into withdrawal. The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal vary from person to person. Some people may have one symptom and other may suffer from many different symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms do get better over time, but they do last several weeks or longer depending upon how heavy a smoker you were. Nicotine replacement therapies, such as the nicotine patch, lozenge or gum or medications, such as Chantix (varenicline) or bupropion hydrochloride can help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal, but nothing can completely alleviate those symptoms. If you want to successfully quit smoking it is important to make some changes to prepare for the inevitable withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal Symptom: Depressed, Restless or Sad Feelings. Many people experience these blue feelings when they first quit smoking. Some people even feel like they have lost a friend. To combat these feelings it is important to distract your mind and body. Exercise, find an activity you enjoy and do it every day. Play music, listening to music can lift your mood and distract your mind. Force yourself to be more social and reach out to others. Keep in touch with friends and family, get a pet, or volunteer your time helping a worthy cause. Distracting the mind and body are the best ways to chase the blues away.
Withdrawal Symptom: Irritable, Nervous or Angry Feelings. Denying yourself what you crave is irritating. Many people feel angry and annoyed when they stop smoking. Stress relieving techniques work best for these symptoms. You should be patient with yourself and treat yourself gently when you feel this way. Activities that are soothing are best, getting a massage, taking a long hot bath (with music playing in the background), yoga, stretching and deep breathing exercises help relieve the stress and return you to normal.
Withdrawal Symptom: Disturbed Sleep. Regular exercise helps with insomnia, however, exercise that heavily exerts you should be done early in the day so as not to disrupt sleep. At night, before bedtime if you want to exercise you should perform light exercise, such as yoga, tai chi or a stretching routine. Avoid caffeinated products after 4:00pm, if you like tea try drinking switching to chamomile tea before bedtime, it helps the mind and body relax. If you use nicotine replacement like the patch, gum or lozenge remember to remove the patch before bedtime, you want to avoid using the gum and lozenge just before bedtime because these products can disturb your sleep and cause you to have some weird nightmares.
Withdrawal Symptom: Increased Appetite and Weight Gain. So many people procrastinate quitting smoking because they are afraid of gaining weight. If you prepare yourself you can avoid much of the weight gain. However, many people do gain weight when they quit smoking, because they replace food with cigarettes. You can avoid this weight gain by snacking on healthy foods. Eat mainly fruits and vegetables and avoid chips or sweets. Low-fat popcorn, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are excellent snacks while you are trying to quit, since they take a long time to eat and keep your hands are occupied while eating them. Double your vegetable intake during each meal main meals and drink mostly water. Stop drinking soda and fruit juices altogether. Also, daily exercise is important to maintaining your weight as well.
Quitting smoking is a big deal, but you can do it. Take it seriously and prepare for the withdrawal symptoms so you are not caught off guard. Most people relapse because they did not anticipate having strong cravings. Expecting symptoms and preparing for them is the way to assure your success at quitting. The symptoms do not last forever, only the first month or so. After that they subside and become much more manageable.