Withdrawal Symptoms: What it Takes To Quit Smoking
It’s never easy to quit smoking. In fact, only a few smokers can make it past the withdrawal stage. Others could barely even last a day without lighting up a stick again. Once you lose your momentum, a black hole eats all you enthusiasm and vigor. Then you’re back to your old habits.
Blame it on nicotine addiction.
Quitting smoking is like a race. It is a marathon and not a sprint. Anyone coming into the fight unprepared is surely bound to lose with the odds stacked against him. Some underestimate the journey and tread haphazardly. All these are a sure recipe for failure and disappointment.
Hope for the best and expect the worst right? Yes! It pays to be ready, knowledgeable and smart. Not only will you understand what is happening, but you will be ready to deal with it. So that fight goes on, you win every single day, never putting your guard down and before you know it, you are free.
Getting to Know What You’re Dealing With
Our goal is to help you get armed with the knowledge of each withdrawal symptom and the things you can do to combat each one. We will not ask you to do crazy tricks and be funny, but instead give you proven and effective tips that work every time.
Let's start with the "why.” How come we get withdrawal symptoms when we quit? This is because of the dependence we have in nicotine, the addictive drug that creates an imbalance and creates an emptiness and urge that we need to fill.
The urge and dependence to nicotine are worlds away from the itch of buying that new LED TV, the excitement of the 2-minute mark on an overtime basketball game and the little voice telling you to keep the RPM needle so close to the redline on the highway. Unfortunately, as studies have shown, the dependence and addiction is as if one is addicted to heroin.
Below are the most common withdrawal symptoms a smoker may experience or totally miss during the intense first 2 weeks away from cigarettes. The time differs and may take 8-12 weeks before the body returns to its normal function.
Dealing With Emotions: Anger and Mood Swings
A roller coaster emotional experience: Yes, some smokers who try quitting go through this phase. Yet, this is a normal part of the process. There is no need to rationalize things. No need to look for reasons behind every emotion. What’s important is being mindful of your inner thoughts and actions. When necessary, find someone to talk to. This makes you feel better at the end of the day. And maybe, spend some time walking or exercising to refocus your attention to something else more productive.
Take away the times you spend on smoking and your routine activities get a little boring. Try new things to make up for your drastic lifestyle change. Get up and get yourself started with things new to you. Or perhaps, volunteer to run some errands. And if you’re grounded for some reason, have some books to read, movies to watch or some games to finish. Learn how to cook, get your kids to school or a simple chat with friends would do. Let your preference guide you.
Upper Respiratory Conditions: Cough, Dry Throat or Mouth, Nasal Drip
These symptoms might make you feel uncomfortable but are really normal during the early phase of staying away from cigs. After months or years of constant mucous congestion as a result of smoking, the clearing process might cause nasal drips or cough.
To deal with this problem, drink lots of water. Juice, tea or smoothies are also a good way to enjoy rehydrate yourself with all those flavors. Of course, liquids exclude alcohol. You might also use some candies or cough drops to alleviate the symptoms further.
Ask any ex-smoker and the irritating headaches easily top the list of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. While you can take painkillers to reduce its intensity and frequency, taking a warm bath or shower might work for you. Rehydrating by taking lots of water might also do the trick. Others benefit from engaging in physical activities, while some take some meditation and relaxation to ease the pain.
Dealing With Increasing Appetite
Sometimes, we easily confuse cigarette craving with hunger pangs. After quite some time, your mouth has gotten used to working on something: in the case of smokers, sipping the smoke and the lips locking on to your cigarette. Remove this stimulus from your daily routine and your mouth suddenly looks for something to get busy with. So it comes as n surprise that ex-smokers usually love taking a few munches every now and then.
So what are the best low-calorie foods to indulge? Try celery, carrots, popcorn or perhaps some assorted raw veggies. Others always have with them some packs of bubblegum handy. Of course, stay away from calorie-laden foods such as steaks, burgers, etc. The reasons are obvious. Quitting smoking doesn’t mean gaining excessive weight. Get yourself healthy in the process as well.
Just like other psychoactive drugs, nicotine affects our brain wave function. In turn, the altering effects of the substance can affect your sleep cycles. Ever been dreaming about smoking lately? Yes, this can happen a few days on after you quit smoking.
If you happen to experience irregular sleep patterns, avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks to prevent the condition from getting worse. Some relaxation techniques such as meditation and mindfulness might also help, but it does require some practice. Reading books might also do the trick; or a movie marathon, perhaps?
A Clouded Mind
In other words, a lack of concentration. This means your system needs a little more time to adjust. You may feel like a total wreck with some disorganized thoughts. But focus on productive activities to keep your mind busy, away from the glaring thoughts of trying to light up one cancer stick again. Engage in physical activities such as regular jogging routine or weightlifting. Just keep your new habits in the right direction with the right amount of motivation and patience.
As we’ve mentioned, quitting those cancer sticks can lead to an increase in appetite. And when unheeded, those eating sprees can easily pack up more calories. Unused calories mean stored fats, and so the increase in weight. However, a meager 5 to 10 pounds of added weight doesn’t necessarily equate to bad health. Make sure your body mass index stays normal, and keep up the good habit of regular exercise.
A Final Thought
Now that the "unexpected symptoms" are put to light, be conscious and acknowledge them right away as you encounter each. No need to worry because the symptoms are good news, these are signs that your body is fighting alongside you and is purging the harmful chemicals the habit left inside your body.
Remember that there a few people that will only experience one of a couple of the withdrawal symptoms we mentioned, but some aren't so lucky at all and will go through each one. We hope that the knowledge you picked up today will be of immense help on your journey to a smoke free life. You are not alone in the battle, we are always here to help.