The first couple of weeks after quitting smoking can be tough. Your body is going through withdrawal, and you’re just starting to adjust to the huge change you’ve experienced.
You now need to learn to think of yourself as an ex-smoker, and accept that lighting up isn’t — and never will be — an option.
Here are some tips on how to stay smoke-free in the years to come:
Nicotine alters your body in many dangerous ways. By smoking, you have taught your brain to believe it needs cigarettes the same way it needs food or water. These changes don’t go away, and that’s why it’s possible to find yourself craving a cigarette months or years after quitting. You need to keep your guard up and be ready to stop yourself if you notice that you’re rationalizing a cigarette. Always remember that even one cigarette is one too many.
Remember Your Reasons for Quitting
Perhaps when you first decided to quit, you made a list of reasons that compelled you to do so. Even now, it can be useful to remind yourself of all your reasons for quitting and of all the benefits that being a non-smoker is providing you with, especially when you’re experiencing a craving.
Wait Out the Cravings
Even if you’ve been careful to avoid all your smoking triggers, eventually you’re bound to come across something that will make you crave a cigarette. Even though it may not feel like it, remember that most cravings only last a couple minutes. Remind yourself that you won’t be feeling like this for long, and once that feeling passes, you will be a little stronger and your addiction will be a little weaker. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can smoke just one.
Exercise and Eat Well
Exercise regularly and try to include healthier foods in your diet. This will speed up your recovery and provide a healthy and constructive distraction. The progress you make in your health, as a result, will motivate you to stay smoke-free.
Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and is a very common trigger for many smokers. That’s why, especially in the first months of your recovery, you should avoid it altogether. Eventually, you will be able to enjoy a beer without feeling the urge to smoke, but it may take some time.
Quitting smoking is a big challenge, and you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Celebrate your quitting milestones, big or small. Use some of the money you’ve saved by not smoking to treat yourself to something nice.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to turn to your loved ones for support when you’re craving a cigarette. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. Just talking to someone about what you’re going through can help you understand and, in turn, distance yourself from the urge and pass the time until it passes.
Recover from Slips
If you do smoke a cigarette, or even smoke for one day, it’s not the end of the world. You need to understand that this doesn’t mean that you failed, and it doesn’t have to mean you’re a smoker again. You might be tempted to use that as an excuse to go back to smoking. Don’t let yourself rationalize that temptation. Reflect on how much you’ve accomplished, remember your reasons for quitting and remind yourself of your desire to quit. Learn from that experience, and get back on track.