Everyone talks about ways to quit smoking, but not much is said about what happens once you actually quit. A huge life transformation occurs once cigarettes aren’t part of your daily routine anymore. Many of the activities that once gave a sense of pleasure now provoke aversion, craving, guilt, and a combination of emotional states.
The first two weeks without nicotine running through the blood can be quite difficult. It is important to have some strategies and techniques to help you become stronger and more resilient through those difficult times.
1. Accumulate time without smoking
As time passes and you move away from your Quit-Day, you gain experience in not smoking. Having a counter to know exactly how much time has gone by can help you keep centered and work as an internal motivational compass. The cravings to smoke will continue to surface, but the urges will become softer, shorter in length, and come more infrequently over time.
2.Build yourself a support network
Having a network of close associates, friends, or family, to whom you can turn for support, and who are available when you need them, is of utmost importance.
Difficult moments will appear; that is no secret. But if you can get support from your network, it becomes easier. Reaching out to those people can help you get out of the risk zone of relapsing.
A common mistake made by those who quit smoking is to feel that they can do it alone. And that feeling of omnipotence is a particularly dangerous enemy. It is enormously braver and safer to ask for help.
3.Manage your triggers
Triggers are specific cues that your body perceives as signals that provoke a learned reaction. One of the most common is that every time you have a break at work, you instinctively lit a cigarette. Controlling your triggers involves avoiding exposure to situations that remind you to smoke or can commonly make you smoke. The objective is to build a safe environment that favors change.
Examples include: Not hanging out with smokers; not going to places where smoking is allowed; not shopping where you usually buy cigarettes; avoiding drinking alcohol or coffee, etc.
4.Foresee the hardships to come
Many times we can’t avoid our daily routines, so we have to prepare for any situations that can trigger our urge to smoke. That is, we must visualize what kind of circumstances we are going to experience and mentally imagine what our reaction will be.
An example: If you go to a meeting where there may be smokers you have to prepare. Think about how you will act if you feel like smoking. What your answer will be if someone offers you a cigarette. Decide in advance if you are going to drink alcohol or not.
Once the first two weeks go by, in the third and fourth weeks, you will face a new opponent: extreme self-confidence. As time goes by without smoking, it may seem to you that it becomes easier. You think less about cigarettes, and the moments of craving to smoke are less frequent and less intense. At that time you may begin to think you have the situation under control. At that moment, the idea of smoking a cigarette may not look so bad. Remember that the body continues to crave nicotine for 3 months after you stop smoking and that you are still in a vulnerable position.
Bringing a new, smoke-free, self to life, one without cigarettes is a 24/7 effort. Especially in the first weeks of making the big step. The good news is that it is possible, and the reward is no less than an extended and healthier life.