What to Expect When You Quit Smoking
If you're still a smoker, but are thinking about quitting, you should first have an idea of what to expect before you actually do quit. To quit smoking is similar to winning a war, because it's a battle between nicotine and your body. Just like any war, you should have a plan and should know what to expect on the battlefield.
Mood Swings and Irritibality are probably the most common symptoms you will encounter within the first week of quitting. Majority of heavy smokers can become irritable if they do not have a cigarette every few hours. As a smoker, I'm sure you're familiar with what I'm talking about. Well imagine that irritability on an increased level and constantly there for a few days or even as long as a few weeks. It can be quite nerve-wracking. So be prepared, because chances are you will have to deal with this very common symptom of nicotine withdrawal.
For many people, smoking can energize them. This is because nicotine is a stimulant, and for some people, it helps relax them. Stress can cause fatigue, so you may feel tired or lethargic at first. This can also play a role in increasing irritability as well.
Some people have even experienced headaches after quitting. So you may want to make sure you have a few aspirin tablets nearby just in case. If you do experience headaches, it shouldn't be anything too severe. If it feels intense, it may not be related to nicotine withdrawal at all and could be an underlying health issue or just a harmless migraine.
Weight Gain and Hunger
When you stop smoking, you shouldn't experience weight gain automatically. It is a common complaint amongst people who quit, but it's usually because they substitute smoking with eating more food. So if you're still eating the same amount every day that you did before, there's no reason you should gain weight. However, be aware of your eating habits and if you don't want to gain weight, try not to increase your food consumption after quitting smoking. Many people will experience increased hunger after stopping smoking, so it's completely normal if you do.
This was a problem I personally encountered after quitting. I would wake up in the middle of the night all of a sudden and have a cigarette craving, even though I didn't typically smoke at that time of the night. This can cause a lack of sleep, and can also agitate your mood and cause the irritibility I had talked about. If you experience sleeping problems, you may want to think about taking a sleep aid, like Tylenol PM or Ambien, at least for the first few nights.
Mind Over Matter
When I quit smoking, the hardest part was trying to convince myself that I wanted to quit. After a few weeks of not having cigarettes, I felt I was in the clear. However, this is when I let my guard down. I began to get curious about what it would be like to smoke a cigarette again. Half of my mind was telling me that I should just try cigarettes again because I wasn't addicted and could probably handle a few without getting hooked again. The other half of my mind was telling me to walk away forever and never look back. It was telling me to run while I have the chance. I followed the latter and that has made all the difference. Convincing yourself that you are dedicated and really want to quit is the hard part. Because when you have a physical addiction to something, it begins to affect your thought process, and you start to make excuses for yourself on why you should start smoking again. So nicotine is not the only thing you are battling, you are also battling your own thought process.
So in conclusion, you may experience all these symptoms, you may experience a few, or you may not have any of them. But a good soldier will always come prepared. Don't understimate nicotine withdrawal. It can be a very difficult opponent to defeat, but as long as you stay focused on winning the battle against addiction, you should be able to prevail.
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