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Practical Tips for The First Week of Smoking Cessation

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Updated June 14, 2014

Practical Tips for The First Week of Smoking Cessation

Nicotine withdrawal is uncomfortable, but temporary.

Ghislain & Marie David de/The Image Bank/Getty Images

You may feel like you're on a roller coaster during the first couple of weeks of smoking cessation.  Whether you use a quit aid of some sort or go cold turkey, you’re going to feel some discomforts due to nicotine withdrawal.

Some people have more trouble with the first week, and others with the second, but the good news is that for most ex-smokers, the worst of physical withdrawal from nicotine is over within the first two weeks of smoking cessation.

Physically, your body is reacting to the absence of not only nicotine, but all of the other chemicals in cigarettes that you've been inhaling 20 or more times a day for years. When the supply gets cut off, you can expect to feel the effects of that.

Flu-like symptoms are common during the first couple of weeks of smoking cessation. The amount of discomfort you'll experience depends in part on how well you take care of yourself during this phase. Follow the tips below to help you minimize the effects of physical and mental withdrawal from nicotine.


1) Eat a well-balanced diet.
Treats are fine, but be careful not to go overboard with the wrong kinds of food right now. Your body is working hard to expel toxins during the withdrawal process, and that takes energy. Choose foods that will provide you with the high quality fuel you need. Avoid the empty calories of junk food.

2) Take a multivitamin.
Smoking depletes our bodies of nutrients. Give yourself a boost with the help of a multivitamin. This, combined with a good diet will help you keep the fatigue that often occurs during nicotine withdrawal to a minimum.

3) Stock the fridge with healthy snacks.
Have small bags of bite size fresh veggies within easy reach. Celery and carrot sticks with low fat ranch dressing for dipping makes a good snack. Fresh fruit, such as pineapple chunks, berries, melon or other fruits in season will satisfy your sweet tooth if they're clean and ready to eat when you're looking for a snack. Good freezer treats include low fat fudgesicles and frozen grapes.

4) Get out for a walk.
A short walk every day – as little as 15 minutes even, can work wonders for beating back smoking urges and improving mood.  Exercise also releases endorphins, the "feel good" hormone. So, head out for a walk around the block once or twice a day. You’ll come back refreshed and relaxed.

5) Drink water!
Water helps you flush residual toxins from smoking out of your body more quickly. It also works well as a craving buster. Drink water before you snack and you'll eat less. Water is an important part of your diet.  Keep yourself well-hydrated, and you'll feel better in general. That will in turn help you manage withdrawal symptoms more easily.

6) Keep some supplies in your car.
If you spend a lot of time driving, have some items handy to help you pass the time more comfortably. Drink some of that water we just talked about while you're driving. Keep a bottle or two in the car at all times. Also store a bag of hard candies and lollipops in the glove compartment and have some straws or cinnamon sticks available to chew on.

7) Do some deep breathing.
Cravings usually hit fast and with force. They're strongest at the start, and fade in intensity within 3 - 5 minutes. Don't panic when you get a craving to smoke. Take a few moments to concentrate on your breathing. Close your eyes if possible and breathe in and out slowly. Let the craving wash over you like a wave while you focus on your breathing. The urge will pass and you’ll be left feeling stronger.

8) Turn your bathroom into a day spa.
Light some candles, and take a long hot bubble bath. Treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure and follow with a facial. Pamper yourself!

9) Have a cup of tea.
Allow yourself a few minutes to relax with a cup of tea and honey. Choose herbal teas rather than those with caffeine. It's an quick and easy way to rejuvenate yourself.

10) Reward yourself.
Come up with a list of small gifts that you can give yourself every day. Take a hot bath. Buy a new candle. Read a fun magazine. Enlist someone else in the family to cook dinner. Small daily rewards will boost your spirits and fortify your resolve to keep the quit.

11) Get more sleep.
Early cessation is tiring. Your body is stressed and so is your mind. Allow more time to sleep if you need it. Don’t worry, the weariness won't last. Your energy will return soon

12) Find some support.
Having others who are interested in your success is very important. The Smoking Cessation Forum here at About.com is a thriving, active group of people who can give you the help and encouragement you need. Sign in as a guest to browse and read posts from other quitters, or register(free) to post messages of your own. Add some support to your quit smoking program.

Gotta go through it to get through it.
Be patient and kind to yourself during the early days of smoking cessation.  Nicotine withdrawal, while intense, is a temporary phase of smoking cessation.  Stay the course and you'll find in time that the rewards of long term release from nicotine addiction outweigh the discomforts of withdrawal!

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