I quit smoking seventy-two days ago, and for the first time I'm not sure I'm going to make it.
I smoked proudly for fifteen years. I started as an occasional smoker, but over time I needed more and more nicotine (I later learned that most addicts develop dose tolerance to their addictive substances). By the time I quit, I was smoking three packs per day, every day. I smoked during meetings, while walking or driving or eating meals. I woke up in the middle of the night to have a cigarette, and even kept one burning in an ashtray on the toilet tank while I showered, or on the bed stand while making love. I considered myself a smoker's smoker, and couldn't imagine life without cigarettes. Until I met Mary, that is.
Mary was cool, confident, smart and lovely, certainly out of my league, and I immediately fell in love with her. I had to have her. There was one problem with Mary, though -- she was a non-smoker. And not the self-righteous, moralistic type of non-smoker I'd been avoiding for years, either. No, Mary vehemently and absolutely hated tobacco, with a passion I'd never seen. Tobacco had killed her mother, and she held a big-time grudge against it. She made no bones about her refusal to date any smoker, ever.
My self-image hung in the balance. If I entertained any notion at all of hooking up with Mary, I would have to quit smoking. Telling myself that I'd stay quit only long enough to win her heart, and resume smoking sometime after that, I went online to look for quit-smoking info. I registered at a quit-smoking website, picked a quit-smoking date, and announced to everyone that I was quitting -- including Mary, who hugged me at the news!
Being a heavy smoker, I figured I was in for a rough nicotine detox, but decided to quit cold-turkey, anyway. Partially because I wanted to be tough about quitting, but also because it cost $50 for a hundred count of nicotine gum. $50! Never mind that a carton of smokes runs almost twice that; I needed them. Besides, the drama of a severe withdrawal could maybe get me some special attention from Mary... .
Day One wasn't bad at all. I fidgeted a lot, and drummed my fingers madly against things. I kept putting my hands to my mouth, expecting something to be there for me. I sucked on a ton of Lifesavers, but had no overwhelming urge to smoke. Quitting seemed do-able.
Day Two was a little more intense. Mary called to cheer me on and tell me how proud she was of me. My nose started running a bit, and I developed a headache. Felt like I might be coming down with a cold, but suffered only a few severe cravings to smoke. Despite the physical discomfort, and trouble getting to sleep at night, I thought that people were making too big a deal out of quitting smoking.
By Day Three I was a space cadet. I laughed uncontrollably, as if I was stoned on acid. Colors seemed very intense, and my brain raced wildly with bizarre thoughts. (My doctor later said I was experiencing a sustained rush of new oxygen to the brain). My whole body ached, and someone at the quit-smoking website wrote that I'd probably contracted the 'Quit Flu'. I obsessed non-stop about either smoking or not smoking, and became painfully aware of every lit cigarette within sight or smell.
And then a blow to my motivation, on Day Four: Mary left the country with her family, and wouldn't be back for two months! So much for her shoulder to lean on while I quit. A part of me whispered, "You can smoke now and re-quit later, and she'll never know," but I decided to soldier on and have more smoke-free weeks quit under my belt when she returned.
By Day Twenty I was already feeling better. I still wasn't sleeping much (my sleep patterns wouldn't stabilize for another month or two), and I was coughing up a lot of brown goo, but the flu-like symptoms were gone and I was going hours at a time without thinking about a cigarette.
And so it went. I sailed through my quit, noting one surprise benefit of quitting after another. Sleep deprived or not, I felt more alert and like I was really in my body. I took morning walks, and during one of them I suddenly wanted to run. It was exhilarating! I joined the Y, and started lifting weights. I wondered why people seemed to be wearing stronger cologne and perfume lately, until I realized that my sense of smell was returning. When I did have a smoking urge, I logged in to my quit-site and distracted myself. I finally stopped spitting up old lung tar, too, and noted that my wallet always had a lot more cash in it. Why had I never tried quitting before? Doing so had triggered changes in many areas of my life; I even made a couple of new ex-smoking friends, and began thinking of myself as an ex-smoker.
Until this morning, that it is. Mary got back from her long family vacation and introduced me to Mark, her new boyfriend. That was bad. Worse, he reeked of cigarettes! Filthy, stinking cigarettes. I was stunned. After a short, awkward silence, I blurted out something like, "Glad to meet you and by the way I'm still not smoking," and beat a hasty retreat. I felt betrayed. What was Mary's problem? Why would she sell out her values for love? How could she do this to me, after I'd changed my smoking life to be with her (though I never did tell her that, truth be told)? My thoughts turned to smoking. "I'll show her," I resolved. "Screw this quit."
So here I am on Day Seventy-two, and my motivation for quitting is gone. I'm at the convenience store, counting out bills for a pack of my old deadly comfort. In walks one of my new ex-smoking friends. She smiles, sees the pack and the wallet in my hands, and looks at me, silent. "They're not for me," I reply to her unasked question. In that moment I get some clarity. Cigarettes really are not for me, not any more. I'm about to punish myself because I'm upset with Mary? How can I blame her for selling out to follow her heart, anyway? Hadn't I sold out my smoking values to follow mine? Hasn't that been working out pretty well for me?
My quit isn't about Mary, and it never was. She may have been my inspiration to change, but it was my decision and my effort that got me to this place. The benefits of my new, healthier lifestyle are mine alone. I've earned them, and I'm not going to throw them away just because I got my expectations dashed.
I hand the cigarettes back to the clerk and buy a roll of Lifesavers, instead. I walk out of the store with my friend, still smoke-free. I didn't get the girl in the end, but I got a lot more than I expected. Seems I'm the fish I've been trying to catch all along (and quitting smoking was the hook).
Alan Q, CTTS-M
For many of us, the first reaction to any conflict was a cigarette or a dip. Tobacco seemed to level us off, cool us down, help us focus during or after an upsetting situation. We shouldn't be surprised if we find ourselves getting angry more often, or getting more angry often, after we quit tobacco. Some of us seemed to be in all kinds of disagreements for awhile after quitting, and have even been asked by significant others to please start smoking again!
We didn't quit smoking just to be angry and miserable, did we? And we certainly don't want emotional firestorms to jeopardize our quits. The good news is that we can manage confrontations without alienating everyone around us, or by turning to the numbing distraction of nicotine. We do this by managing ourselves in tense situations, following these three simple rules:
Rule #1: Remove Yourself From The Conflict (or, It's Ok To Walk Away)
You don't have to go to every fight you're invited to. Trying to resolve conflicts while emotionally super-charged is counter-productive; it's too easy to misread and escalate. Remind yourself that your quit is your #1 priority, and that arguments can be a relapse trigger. You don't have to exit gracefully, just get out of the argument by any means possible. Tell the other person that you're too fired up to continue right now, that it would be a good idea to take a break. Then leave the room, hang up the phone or log out, take a walk. The problem won't just go away, but you won't have worsened it by adding tobacco to the mix.
Rule #2: Get a Handle on Your Emotions (or, Don't Try to Control What You Can't)
Nobody and nothing has the power to make you smoke against your will, so take responsibility for your own feelings and choices. Deep breathing is a stress reliever (we used to do it when smoking, with smoke), so start by regaining control of your breath. Have a seat, and take five to ten deep breaths. Breathe in as much air as you can hold, count to five, and then push your breath out through tightly-pursed lips. If you use any kind of prayer or meditation tools, or affirmations like, Easy Does It, now is a good time to employ them.
When you're reasonably settled, log in or call a quit-buddy or trusted confidant and run the situation by them. Listen to yourself as you recount the story; we often tell ourselves exactly what we need to hear when we open ourselves up a little to someone else. The humor with which others respond to our crises is often a great anger deactivator. Our friends' similar experiences, or objective observations, can enlighten us, too.
Rule #3: Clean Your Side Of The Street (or, Do You Want To Be Right Or Be Happy?)
Sooner or later, you'll have to re-engage with the person or situation you were fighting. Nothing frees us more, or resolves conflicts more effectively, than first getting clear on our own part in them. Think over the beginning, middle, and end of the situation, asking yourself:
"Is any of this mine to own? What is my role in it? Is this really an issue important to me, or am I just blowing off steam? Is my anger appropriate to the situation?" We often use anger to cover our own culpability, no matter how small, or to re-direct the anger we feel over someone or something else. Sometimes we're just mad because we can't smoke!
Looking ahead toward a solution to the conflict, consider:
"What is the result I desire most here? Am I trying to punish, or just to be heard? Am I trying to control or change someone else's thinking or behavior? Is there any of my behavior or thinking that needs to change?"
Writing about your thoughts in a journal can help you calm down and see more clearly.
Finally, the most important questions of all:
"What is the best course of action to achieve my desired result? What's my next move, or 'next right thing' that needs to be done here? Do I owe an apology? Do I want to be right, or be happy?"
When you feel ready to move on, stand up and do a nice hard stretch, letting the internal tension release itself. You've done some important work, without an iota of nicotine in the mix.
There's no easy fix for post-quit anger. It just slowly dissipates. We develop new behavioral responses to life the same way we formed the old ones -- one day at a time, one situation at a time. And the best we know how to do is always a little ahead of the best we're able to do, so don't be too critical of your progress. Practice makes perfect, but it's progress, not perfection, that we should seek.
Alan Peters, CTTS-M
Last week we talked about the many benefits of drinking water. This week, we will look at how certain food choices may help you KTQ by reducing cravings.
Smokers usually smoke the minute they feel anything. That can make it difficult for the newly quit to even know what they are craving! It takes practice to identify thirst, hunger, fatigue or boredom. Chances are a tall, cool glass of water and the right snack can have a quitter feeling back on track in no time. Selecting foods that may help kill craves can also help prevent overeating and weight gain. Eating small amounts throughout the day can manage blood sugar levels, reduce cravings, increase energy, kick up metabolic rate and stabilize moods. Sounds like a good plan, doesn't it? Here are some great food choices:
• Fruit For sugar cravings, reach for fresh fruit. Eating fresh fruit is a good way to increase your fiber and water intake, and to fill up without filling out. Most fruits are alkalizing, which may help reduce nicotine cravings in the beginning of your quit. Blueberries, apples, cherries, watermelon, grapes, plums, and oranges are a few of the many fresh fruit options.
• Vegetables For hand-to-mouth snacking options, try fresh, sliced vegetables. Vegetables are high in vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, and are low in calories. You can eat enough to get full without affecting your waistline. Most vegetables are alkalizing, which may help reduce nicotine cravings in the beginning of your quit. Try sliced bell peppers, zucchini, cucumber, celery and carrots. Or, mix up a salad with lettuce or spinach greens.
• Mint To reduce sugar or nicotine cravings, try strong mint flavors. Peppermint, spearmint, and menthol-flavored cough drops, gum, sugar free hard candies and breath mints may help kill a crave.
• Sour/Tart To reduce sugar or nicotine cravings, you can also try sour or tart flavors such as lemon, lime, lemon drops, dill pickles or stuffed olives.
• Spicy Try spicy foods like hot salsa, Tabasco sauce, red or green chilies, and jalapenos to kill cravings. A generous sprinkling of black pepper may help take the edge off of cravings, as well.
• Warm Eating a warm meal is often more filling than a cold one. Oatmeal is a good choice. Add some cinnamon, applesauce or raisins to increase fiber and crave fighting properties.
• Hot Sipping hot tea is time consuming, and hot liquid may help satisfy cravings. Choose licorice, peppermint, lemon, cinnamon or other such flavored teas to help kill the crave. Green tea is high in antioxidants, and detox teas may offer added support for the newly quit.
• Crunchy The hand to mouth habit associated with smoking is hard to break. Eating crunchy foods like apples, almonds, seeds and raw vegetables can help to satisfy this trigger.
• Fat Foods that are high in healthy fats help you feel full longer and experience cravings less. Olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and avocados are some examples of healthy fats.
• Fiber Healthy foods that are high in fiber help you feel full longer and can counteract some of the constipation associated with quitting. Oatmeal, raisins, vegetables and legumes are some examples of high fiber foods.
To help yourself make good food choices, stock up ahead of time. Arrange your cabinets so the best food choices are front and center. Better yet, make a 'Quit Shelf' with all your go-to crave-killing foods and tape up a few motivational cards with images, mantras, or inspiring statements on them. You can even add your quit stats to your cards weekly. :) With preparation and commitment, you can make this quit your healthiest quit, your best quit - and your last quit!
Keep up the good work, keep going, and KTQ!
Vikki Q CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Quit with us!
Not enough can be said about the wonderful properties of water! Drinking water is healthy for your entire system, and helps you keep the quit! The human body is up to 70% water, and yet many people do not drink enough of it throughout the day. The American lifestyle itself can be dehydrating given our frequent consumption of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, sodas and high sodium meals. Mild dehydration can cause water retention, bloat, constipation and other symptoms including:
• Dry skin
• Lack of energy
• Dry mouth
Are you drinking enough water? Moderate to severe dehydration can be dangerous; even fatal. Drinking enough water can help your body in many ways. The ‘8 glasses per day’ conventional wisdom is not carved in stone (or substantiated by research) so how much water you need to drink per day varies. The more you sweat or exercise, the more water you need to replace. If you consume dehydrating foods and beverages, you will need to drink more. Fruits, vegetables, tea, soup and other diet choices contain water, so you can allow for some of the water content in your diet to count towards your overall daily water intake. Try aiming for 6 glasses a day to help get your water drinking habit moving forward. This can easily be accomplished by substituting a glass of water for every soda, sugar laden juice or junk food snack you would normally reach for. Water actually makes you want to drink more, so after a few days of drinking 6 glasses per day, you will actually feel thirsty. It is that easy!
Here are a few of the many benefits of drinking enough water per day:
• Helps you KTQ! Water is great for ‘hand to mouth’ triggers, reduces physical cravings, distracts from smoking urges and takes up empty time previous spent smoking.
• Helps clear toxins. Your kidneys use water to help break down, process and clear toxins from your system.
• Aids your digestive system. Your intestines use water to keep things moving smoothly! If you don’t drink enough water, your colon pulls water to maintain hydration and constipation is a likely result.
• Helps your blood and bones. Water is used by your body to make healthy new bone and muscle cells.
• Prevents puffiness. Water has a diuretic affect in your body. Inother words, drinking lots of water will increase the excretion of water from your body. Your body holds water to preserve it. If you drink enough water, you will not retain water (unless you have a medical condition).
• Helps your metabolism. Water contributes to weight loss by stimulating your metabolism, killing hunger pangs and filling you up.
• Helps your comfort level. Water is involved in balancing your body temperature.
• Saves your joints. Water lubricates your joints and may reduce pain.
• Gives your face a healthy glow. Water improves your skin through internal hydration.
• Saves You. Water may help prevent a heart attack! Drinking a glass of water before bed or a hot bath/shower may reduce your chance of a heart attack.
• Saves money. Water is cheaper than other beverages (or free).
• Improves your smile. Water has a slight alkalizing affect which helps reduce acidity and is good for your teeth and overall mouth health.
Drinking enough water is very good for all of you! You can add lemon, lime or a splash of juice to add flavor. Try ice, a straw and your favorite glass to make drinking water a pleasant part of your day. Next week we will talk about ways to kill your cravings with certain foods.
Drink up, and KTQ!
Vikki Q CTTS-M Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Visit QuitNet for inspiration and support!
It's taken a lot of hard work, with possibly some challenges to get to this tobacco-free place. This is where you want to remain. Being a recent quitter increases the risk of relapse. Quitting smoking can be physically uncomfortable and mentally exhausting. Consider using a quit medication if you have a difficult time during the first couple of weeks maintaining a quit. Connecting with a support network, reaching out to a quit-buddy, or talking to a smoking cessation counselor is helpful in keeping you focused and on track.
Staying quit and preventing a relapse requires a plan to maintain your new healthy lifestyle. Recognize behavior that could get you in trouble and plan ahead with coping skills, strategies for distraction, and emotional support. You will need to find alternatives to the temptations to smoke; learn from your quitting history where your stumbling triggers lie and seriously commit to doing whatever it takes to not smoke.
Pay attention to signs of a potential relapse. Have you noticed your mind wandering down memory lane? Perhaps thinking of smoking a bit more than usual? Watch out if you find yourself rationalizing that you can smoke just one or feeling over confident and falsely believing you are solid in your quit and can take a few puffs. Slips and relapses all start with one puff so avoid the risk. Ask yourself why you are questioning or contemplating going down this road. Practice countering your smoking rationalizations with truthful statements that support quitting smoking. Respond to ‘I feel healthy.’ and ‘Smoking doesn’t affect me because I don’t inhale.’ by telling yourself ‘Smoking affects every organ and system in my body, including my mouth, teeth and tongue’ ‘Quitting smoking now will reduce my chances of a smoking related illness.’ The only sure way to stay quit is by adhering to the “Not One Puff Ever” maxim. Continue to stay focused on your quit and reward yourself for all your good efforts.
Weight gain associated with quitting smoking is often another reason given for returning to smoking. Try not to become overwhelmed with taking on too many life changes at once. Keep the priority on your quit, knowing that the weight can be dealt with by eating healthy food choices, smaller portions and getting some physical movement daily. A little weight gain is far less harmful to you than continued smoking.
Be prepared to anticipate and identify high risk situations. Being out socially where smoking is prevalent, drinking alcohol or being in a heated argument are all situations that could trigger a relapse. Risky occasions happen when you least expect, during fun times at family gatherings, visiting old friends, even when you’re bored with nothing to do. Protect your quit by rehearsing mentally how you will cope with these varying situations. See yourself saying no to the cigarette offered to you by a friend at a party, or whatever scene may play out in the future and responding with the alternative coping strategy you’ve decided to use instead of smoking. Get suggestions for good trigger strategies from the coaches or members at QuitNet.
Balancing a healthy lifestyle is essential in maintaining a quit. Find new ways to manage the stress in your life; get some physical exercise, meditate, keep a journal and take care of yourself doing things you enjoy. Planning ahead for potential triggers will help you avoid the snare of relapsing.
Keep coming back, and KTQ!
Last week we talked about stress; this week we will talk about detox! QuitNet Q'sters often ask if there is anything they can do to help their body detox after so many years of smoking cigarettes. Quitting smoking is the best detox plan of all. However, the answer to the question is yes! Here are some options that may help support your body as you keep the quit:
Free radicals cause damage to your cells and can be formed by smoking, pesticides, pollution and daily metabolic processes. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and as a result, can help protect your cells from damage. You will find antioxidants in many fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, vitamins, minerals and herbs.
By eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, you can help your system heal, detox and flourish. Eating fresh foods high in cysteine, beta-carotene, vitamin B2, vitamin C and vitamin E will increase your antioxidant intake. Zinc and selenium will help stregthen your immune system.
Fruits and vegtables are very nutrient dense, high fiber, low calorie and as an added benefit - reduce both food and nicotine cravings. The majority of fruits and vegtables are alkaline which helps restore your system from it's highly acidic state brought on by smoking. Here are some food chioces that are very high in antioxidants:
- red, black, kidney and pinto beans
- blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries,
- cherries, plums, prunes, apples
- russet potato
There are endless benefits to loading up your grocery basket with a wide variety of these colorful, wholesome, fresh foods!
Herbal remedies are not FDA approved and may interact with certain medications or medical conditions. Always ask your doctor before taking herbal remedies. Keep in mind that supplements 'add to' a healthy diet and do not work alone. Your healthy diet is the foundation, and herbal supplementation builds upon that foundation.
Many herbal teas, seasonings and medicinal herbs contain antioxidants. Aloe vera, bilburry, green tea, garlic, turmeric, ginkgo, ginger root, grape seed and milk thistle may help your body fight free radicals. Herbal teas are an easy way to support the detox process. Tea is also relaxing to prepare, steep and sip as you celebrate your quit! Here are just a few of the many herbs that may help support different areas of the body:
- Liver: Burdock, Milk Thistle, Artichoke, Dandelion, Licorice Root
- Lungs: Ginger Root, Garlic, Thyme Leaf
- Skin: Fennel, Aloe Vera, Ginger Root, Licorice Root
- Circulation: Ginger, Black Pepper, and Long Pepper
- Digestion: Anise Seed, Licorice, Fennel, Peppermint Leaf
Adding an herbal detox remedy in powder, pill or tea form may help your system detox. If herbal supplementation appeals to you (and your doctor has no objections), give it a try!
The human body is about 60% water! Drinking plenty of water will help you detox by increasing the amount of nutrients you absorb in food and eliminating waste from your body. Water also helps you feel full, reduces cravings and can have an alkalizing effect on your system. Smoking can be dehydrating and acidifying, so your entire system will thank you if you get in the habit of drinking plenty of fresh water.
By adding some nutritional support to your system, you can help your body detox and repair after many years of smoking. Today is a great day to move forward as a healthy nonsmoker!
Be healthy, and KTQ!
Vikki Q CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Stress is a common relapse trigger. Stress happens to all of us, and stressors range from mild to overwhelming. Since stress can build to a breaking point, a good stress management plan is crucial for a successful quit.
The minute you find yourself feeling stressed, stop. Stop everything you are doing and take a good deep breath. Pause, and feel the air fill your lungs. Exhale slowly. Repeat 5 times. Trust that everything is going to work out as it is meant to be, that you are capable of handling the situation and that your best is always good enough. All you can do is all you can do - then let go. Focus on the task at hand, only own what is yours to own, and let the rest go.
Many of us live days filled with an endless list of tasks, appointments, chores, responsibilities, obligations and work. Take some time out of every day to do a few things for you! It is your life and one worth living in joy, not stress.. The rest is just 'stuff'. What do you enjoy? Do it! Play music, take a long hot bath, take a walk, go to a movie, spend time alone, read, journal, fix a quiet & healthy meal, take a short drive, go window shopping or to your favorite restaurant. Give yourself permission to put you at the top of your list! Let someone else make dinner. Leave the floors or paperwork for later. Take a day off - ENJOY! You deserve a break, and nothing is worth more than enjoying the journey of our lives.
TALK WITH A FRIEND
A problem shared is trouble spared! Good friends offer you feedback, a space for you to be heard, a venue for you to process your thoughts (and often, your own solutions), a shoulder to cry on, a cheerleader, a confidant, shared joy, encouragement or comfort in times of need. Reach out! Be a good friend, and appreciate the good friends you have. Your life will be improved many times over.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
It is easy to get caught up in the swirl of worry and everything that is not working (car, dishwasher, conflicting personalities) when in fact, the majority of our lives ARE working! The washer may be broken, but how is your heart? Your health? Do you have somewhere to live? Have you laughed lately? Focus on what you do have, what you love, and what is right in your world. The rest is just random ups and downs. What you focus on grows - focus on all the good things around you!
HONOR YOUR QUIT
Quitting smoking is a big change. It takes effort, commitment, will power, planning and daily attention. Quitting is a good exercise in effective goal setting and completion, and each step in your quit process adds successful tools to use in other parts of your life. Celebrate and protect your quit by making every day a smoke free, relaxing day!
Stay tuned for Part 2; Detox. Until then, keep up the good work and KTQ!
Vikki Q CTTS- M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Individuals who have depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or other mental health concerns are more likely to smoke cigarettes than those who do not have these conditions to cope with.
It is important to note that there will most likely be flare ups of mental health symptoms when these individuals stop smoking, a challenge that quitters without mental health issues do not have to contend with.
Are you struggling with depression or other mental health conditions? Do you want to quit smoking successfully? The good news is, you most certainly can! Since you have probably dealt with your symptoms for many years, that means you have the awareness, experience and tools needed to address quit related flare ups effectively.
You can quit smoking successfully with some preparation and realistic expectations. There are side effects brought on by the withdrawal process resulting from stopping smoking. Symptoms of mental health conditions will get worse during withdrawals. This is a temporary side effect. It is unavoidable, so accept that it will occur as part of the process of stopping smoking.
Accept that the process will not be completed - meaning you will not reach the 'feeling better' part - until you remain quit for a long enough period of time for the necessary physical/emotional/hormonal/behavioral/mental adjustments to take place. Every day you do not smoke makes a huge difference, so keep going!
It is very helpful to plan ahead for all of your personal smoking triggers, both emotional and habitual. You can start today by writing down your top 10 smoking triggers. Some common triggers include nervousness, stress, sadness and boredom. What are yours?
Next, work with your doctor before your quit to formulate a plan to avoid smoking in response to each and every one of your specific smoking triggers that you wrote down. If the symptoms of your illness are under control, that means you already have good coping tools in place. That being said, additional tools will most likely be needed to get you from the withdrawal phase to the 'feeling better' phase successfully.
If your symptoms are not under control yet, it is advised to begin by getting your symptoms managed effectively before you quit. That way, your doctor can assist your quit efforts by making small adjustments to your medications, add support sessions, suggest new behaviors and coping skills in combination with the effective tools you already have in place. As a nonsmoker, your medications will work better and you feel better, too!
Here is a 'check list' to ensure a successful quit:
*Make sure your mental health issues are well under control and you have a good plan of action that addresses each and every one of your potential relapse triggers.
*Be prepared for a temporary flare up of mental health issues. Know this will occur and know how you will handle these feelings and symptoms safely and effectively.
*Work closely with your doctor to support and manage these symptoms.
*Use a support product to help you with the physical aspects of your quit.
*Have support around you every day to keep you motivated and focused.
*If you have ever quit before (even for 1 day) you did it successfully! Take every single thing that has worked before and do more of it!
*Take daily action to combat mental health symptoms, including:
-activities you enjoy
-supportive interaction with others
-take time to relax
-celebrate your success
Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. Many people quit smoking successfully who have mental health concerns. You can, too!
Vikki Q CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Don't quit alone:
You’ve quit smoking so that you can live a healthier, happier life. Maybe after you kicked the habit, you picked up a couple of healthier ones like eating a more balanced diet, getting more exercise, or managing your stress. But what about sleep?
Sleep is something we often take for granted. We all need sleep, and yet it may be the first thing that is sacrificed in a busy day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of U.S. adults experience insufficient sleep or rest. Crankiness, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue can be a direct result of not getting enough sleep. A good night's rest is important to both physical and mental health. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to greater risk for obesity, depression and anxiety. Another alarming statistic estimates that, each year, 100,000 police-reported crashes are related to driving while tired!
Many ex-smokers complain of having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep after quitting smoking. While sleep woes are a common and frustrating complaint among recent quitters, they are also temporary. Nicotine’s effect on sleep is largely due to its stimulant properties which keep the body and mind in alert mode instead of wind down mode. In addition, since the body goes without nicotine for a long period during sleep, smokers may awaken earlier in response to withdrawal. Smoking is also a risk factor for an array of sleep disorders including sleep apnea, insomnia, and exaccerbation of restless leg syndrome. Ultimately, quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to rest easier!
Knowing you need more sleep and actually getting more sleep can be two different things. While sleep needs vary, the average adult needs roughly between 7-8 hours of sleep. Quality of sleep, however, is just as important as the amount of sleep you get. Here are some simple tips to getting more and better quality sleep.
First, invest in your sleep environment. Proper support, including mattresses and pillows tailored to individual bodies and sleep styles, can help improve sleep quality. Also keep your bedroom dark and the temperature cool.
Second, go to bed and get up at around the same time every day, including on weekends. Creating a consistent sleep and wake schedule helps regulate the body's internal clock. It's slightly more important to wake up around the same time of day as it's easier to force yourself to wake up than it is to force yourself to be sleepy.
Third, avoid alcohol and caffeine 4-5 hours before bedtime. Beer, wine, soda, coffee, tea, etc. signal the brain to stay awake and can take several hours to clear the body.
Last, restrict your bedroom activities to sleep and sex. This means keeping electronic devices—TVs, ipads, cell phones, books (electronic or otherwise) and other distractions—out of the bedroom. Even backlighting produced from these devices is a powerful cue for your brain to stay awake.
Pick up getting more sleep as a healthy habit and you will not doubt be rewarded with feeling good, alert, and energized.
Quitting smoking can be hard, but you can make it easier with planning, support, rewards and realistic expectations!
When you stop smoking, you'll stop doing something you've been doing every half hour of every day of every week of every month of every year - for many, many, many years! You probably started each morning with a cigarette, ended each day & meal with a cigarette, smoked during breaks, good times, sad times, stressful times, when bored or driving, every fight and frustration - a cigarette was a part of every single thing you did.
It is normal to feel anger/sadness/frustration from missing your daily habit. It's normal to have no idea what to do in each of those moments you used to smoke. It is also normal for the things you do come up with to not really 'do the trick' at first! Be sure to identify new emotional coping tools and new behaviors to get through this part of your quit process successfully; read on for questions to help you. This is the hard part, and it has little to do with an actual physical craving for a cigarette!
The newly-quit often feel of sense of loss because they can no longer do what they used to in the same way they used to do it. Change is hard, can lead to feelings of frustration and takes time, patience and PRACTICE to move through it effectively. Quitting is a a learning process. It does not feel comfortable at first. You've lost your (false) emotional coping tool and your daily past time. You probably don't have any new ones to fill the void yet. This is where you can actively work to identify and practice new behaviors, new emotional coping tools, new routines and healthy new habits.
Every smoker goes through this process during their quit. As you do so, you are actually 'becoming a nonsmoker'. Expecting this will happen, knowing it will take a few months to get to the 'feeling better' part, and having a plan of action for your toughest trigger moments will ensure your lasting success!
Make a commitment today to identify new habits, new emotional coping tools, new activities to keep you busy and new daily routines that appeal to YOU. This is YOUR quit, so get involved! Let's identify your 3 biggest smoking triggers (EX: stress, driving, boredom); these are what you'll want to put your time, energy and focus during the next month. Write down your answers to the following:
- What are some things you will commit to doing when you encounter this trigger? (take a walk, call a friend, listen to music)
- What has worked before?
- What else can you try?
- What will you do around other smokers?
- Where will you go to enjoy yourself that is smoke free & supports your quit?
This is 'working your quit' and is the most important step of all! The key is that you not reach for a cigarette no matter what happens or how you feel. It is in that very moment of choosing something else that you will identify the options that work perfectly for YOU. And that is how keeping your Quit gets easier instead of harder as time goes by!
Vikki Q CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Remember; you CAN quit smoking for good, and we here at QuitNet are happy to help: