Congratulations! You made a life-changing decision when you decided to quit smoking.
But let’s not sugar-coat it—sticking to your commitment is hard. Most people who smoke become addicted to nicotine, the drug in tobacco. When you quit, your body goes through withdrawal, the process of your body and brain getting used to life without nicotine.
Withdrawal is different for everyone. It’s uncomfortable but doesn’t cause any health dangers. Getting through it is one of the best decisions you can make for your health. It means you’ve successfully quit smoking. Over time as you and your body adjust to your new, former-smoker life, symptoms fade. Some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Cravings for cigarettes
- Feeling down or sad
- Trouble sleeping
- Irritable‚ on edge‚ or grouchy
- Brain fog
- Feeling restless and jumpy
- Slower heart rate
“Will I ever stop craving a cigarette?”
Cravings are typically the toughest symptom to deal with and are also the longest-lasting. The physical desire for a cigarette’s addictive nicotine is powerful. The psychological desire is too.
It takes three to four days for nicotine to leave your body. Those days can be the toughest because that’s when cravings hit, and hit hard. It can take 10 to 20 minutes for a craving to pass. But being prepared sets you up to know how to handle them.
Some days you may feel like you’re in a game of whack-a-mole with challenges popping up at every turn. Get support. Talk with your doctor about nicotine replacement medications. Replace smoking a cigarette with something else to strengthen your resolve until the craving passes.
Hard work pays off
Here’s the reality—after the cheering about your decision and the adrenaline rush of making a healthy lifestyle change dies down, you’re going to be doing the day-to-day (sometimes minute-by-minute) work of changing a habit.
When you’d do anything for a cigarette, focusing on the benefits of quitting may be the last thing on your mind. Give it a go anyway. Keep a running list of how will you spend the:
- Money not spent on cigarettes
- Time not spent outside on a smoke break
- Time and money not spent on being sick
- Extra energy from feeling healthier
Yes, cravings for a cigarette hit right away when you quit smoking, but improvements in your health do too. Within minutes, in fact, continuing for the rest of your life. Pretty good return on the investment in yourself.