Quitting smoking is quite an accomplishment! You have braved your way through doubt, cravings, stress, triggers and other smokers, yet remained true to your Quit. Congratulations! You may find that your self confidence has increased since you quit smoking, and that confidence has spilled over to other parts of your life. If you think it hasn't, perhaps you need to step back and really take a look at the new you!
You have become an even better smoke-free version of You! Keeping your quit takes commitment, resolve, problem solving, delayed gratification, a willingness to change, let go and give up your well worn path for the unknown adventure ahead.
While going through the quit process, you also learned a lot about yourself! You learned how to control your response to emotions such as anger, sadness, loneliness, frustration, boredom, craving and irritation. You’ve sat with these emotions and come to accept that they are normal and will pass. You now understand your emotions instead of avoiding them, and have new coping tools so your needs are met. As a result, your emotions do not affect you – or those around you – adversely. By doing this, you've improved your overall well being!
Improved well being, self efficacy and healthy self esteem are the cornerstones of a happy life. They reduce stress, give you a sense of control over your choices, increase your ability to handle day to day life situations and help you work through challenging times successfully.
As a successful quitter, you continue to make ongoing, daily choices that enhance your life. That means you have discipline, courage and tenacity. Along the way, you've learned some new things about yourself, set new goals and acquired effective tools to make your goals a reality. Quitting smoking has an unexpected side effect - it opens the door to a healthier lifestyle on multiple levels.
The truth is, You are amazing! What will you do next with your newly discovered confidence, competence and success? Keep going, keep up the good work and KTQ:)
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
No One Has To Quit Alone:
One minute you feel fine, the next you feel like crying at the drop of a hat. Other times you may feel like breaking something (or someone).
Welcome to the roller coaster of emotions called quitting smoking. Feelings of anger, stress, sadness, anxiety, and elation cycle back and forth, up and down, and take you for a loop-de-loop leaving you feeling physically exhausted and emotionally drained.
If you think you are on this ride alone, you’re not. Many ex-smokers experience mood swings when they quit smoking. This is because nicotine is a mood enhancing drug. Nicotine works by releasing feel-good chemicals (called endorphins) in the brain awakening the reward pathway. When you quit smoking, you lose not only this chemically induced happiness, but the behaviors, habits and associations you’ve also created with cigarettes as a “friend,” stress relief, a crutch, and as a way to deal with a myriad of emotions.
But smoking was never a way to cope with emotions. Smoking was a way to not deal with emotions. Smoking cigarettes literally teaches smokers to mask emotions behind a smoke screen. Freeing yourself from behind that smokescreen means learning new ways of handling emotions more effectively. Studies show that in the long run, ex-smokers are actually happier than when they did smoke!
The road to feeling more in control of your emotions may very well start with acknowledging that, at least temporarily, your emotions are out of control. Try reigning them back in with these suggestions:
- Talk things out. Call up a friend and vent. Or consider finding a therapist. If you don’t want to talk things out, then write them out in a journal, text message someone, or log into the Q and use the three post rule!
- Increase endorphins, naturally. Doing things you enjoy naturally releases endorphins: exercising, gardening, spending time with friends, working on a hobby, and playing an instrument or sport. It’s hard to be upset or sad when you’re doing something you love!
- Take a breather. Step outside and take some deep breaths. Inhale slowly through the nose and out the mouth, counting to 10 each time. Go for a brisk walk or bike ride. Exercising outdoors has been shown to improve mood!
- Use rote responses. These are mantras you repeatedly chant to yourself: One day at a time. This too shall pass. Just BREATHE!
- Ask your doctor about medications. Some quit smoking medications can help minimize withdrawal symptoms (like irritability and mood swings) while others have anti-depressant or anti-anxiety properties (Bupropion). Some herbal remedies like St. John’s Wort show promise in alleviating mild depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.
Learning new ways to cope with emotions takes time and practice. You may not feel like yourself again for days, weeks or even months after quitting. While the emotional roller coaster won’t come to an abrupt stop, the bumps and dips do eventually even out. Hang in there!