I have smoked cigarettes since I was 11. At that age, I wasn’t just stealing a cigarette here and there, I was smoking almost a whole pack a day. It was a way to be cool I guess, though I saw every adult around me smoking, so maybe it felt more like a rite of passage than anything else. Whatever it was in the beginning, the end was that I was addicted.
That addiction would bring me back to cigarettes every day for the next twenty-seven years. I hate to even write that, because now I know how stupid I’ve been. Now I know that there is something more than a little nefarious with that. I never knew the addiction level that was on my brain, until I quit. As soon as I made the decision to do it, I knew that there was no going back.
Find your why
Since I am an avid writer and reader, of course the first thing that I did was read up on smoking. I read probably twenty articles on how to quit, how others quit. I wanted to find the tips that worked because I wanted to quit desperately. I’ve wanted to quit for a long time, but something hit me while I was writing an article about the savings of quitting. So after that, I found all the information I could. I found out all of the bad things that cigarettes were doing to me. They really do kill you in all sorts of ways. I didn’t stop, until I rightly hated cigarettes and never wanted to go near them again. I’d already felt that way for some time, but now I had cold, hard facts to back it up every time that I got weak. When I wanted a cigarette so bad I could literally taste it, I would refresh my memory of how horrible they are. That ‘why’ came in handy to keep me on track. Nothing like feeling like a complete idiot to stop you from doing it again.
It’s only two days…
I found out that the worst of it lasts for two days. Nicotine is in and out of the system pretty fast, so all I had to do was grin and bear it for two days and the physical symptoms would start to abate. I knew that it would be unpleasant. I didn’t know it would be as uncomfortable as it was, but I just had to get through two days. I could do that. There was a hold on my brain from the nicotine that I never realized the scope of. After two days, my brain cleared, and I was able to truly think about it all. The nicotine was no longer dictating my thoughts and for the first time in my adult life, I was nicotine free.
You’re a non-smoker now, live like it.
So, now that you have quit, past tense, you need to live like a non-smoker. That means you get rid of all smoking paraphernalia. This can be lighters, ash trays, everything associated with it. You also need to Febreze, clean, wipe everything down. Get rid of the smell because your nose is going to work better very soon, and the smell will make you sick. All of those things are also triggers, so help yourself out and get rid of them. You are a non-smoker, act like it.
Give yourself those two days
You want to quit, but it’s going to be hard those first two days, I mean, really hard or you would have done it before. If you can do your two days on the weekend when you are away from people, that would be better. I lived with a smoker when I quit, so he would go into the other room, but the smell was still there and it made it harder. Seeing people smoking was rough, as was smelling it on passersby when I was out and about. If you are able, give yourself two days as alone and away from smokers and smoke as you can. It will help so much more to get you nicotine free and thinking clearly again to then be able to deal with the triggers around you as they come up, because they will.
Stay away from nicotine replacements
You are never going to get it out of your system and gain clarity, if you keep putting it in your body. It’s two days, don’t prolong it. Those two days are horrible, just get to the other side of it. You will be so much better off. Cold turkey is scientifically the best probable way that you are going to quit. The stats are clear, just stop.
Snacks, Naps, Projects and Straws
Some useful information that I found out about cravings when I quit, is that they only last for three to five minutes. That means you only have to get through the next five minutes. There are going to be a lot of those minutes in the first two to four days, but you just have to remember, it’s only getting through the next five minutes.
So, I would have a snack. There is an oral fixation that you have to deal with. I did it with snacks and then I “hit’ a straw like it was a cigarette. Months later, I still hit that straw when I need a few drags, but most days I forget about it altogether.
If the cravings are back-to-back and I need relief, I would start a project, a physical one that kept my hands and head busy. I rearranged a large majority of my house in the first couple of days. Sometimes though, I just had enough, I was tired of fighting it and I laid down to take a nap. That’s how I got through it, and I know that you can do it too!
Be the first domino
How do I know that you can do it too? Well, when I quit, my husband quit not too long after I did. He had smoked even longer than I had and while it took him a few attempts, a month later he quit too! His health has already improved, and I am so happy that I was the start of something. Now, our quitting and feeling better, has helped my mom to quit! It’s been almost forty years for her! They had to get through it in their own way but seeing someone close to them go through it and come out the other side feeling better than ever, has started something in my family. We can all be non-smokers, something I never would have imagined before my forty-eight hours.
Plan something great with the time and money you now have
When I quit smoking, there was suddenly a whole lot of time and money that I had on my hands. I save about 2200$ a year by not smoking, and my husband just as much. That is a lot of money, not to mention I feel so much better, like I am years younger, so I want to go out and do more. We have taken our time and extra money outdoors. The extra money is also being funneled into the rising costs of course, but the extra cash is helping to keep us active and entertained as well. I feel healthier and richer, my family may very well live longer. It is a gift to quit, and it all starts by getting those first two days down, nicotine out of your system for a clear mind moving forward. It’s that profound, especially if you are a long term heavy smoker like me. It’s quite simply life changing.