Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

It's important to have a plan for managing nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are usually the most intense during the first week after you stop smoking. They may continue for several weeks, with declining intensity.

Although most nicotine withdrawal symptoms pass within a month, you may occasionally experience a strong urge or craving to smoke months after stopping. Triggers or cues that were associated with your smoking can provoke these urges or cravings.

Here's what you can do to help manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity has been found to reduce withdrawal symptoms and help people stop smoking. Exercise also helps avoid potential weight gain often associated with stopping.
  • Wait out cravings. Cravings or urges usually last less than five minutes. Wash the dishes, go for a walk or have a healthy snack, such as carrots, an apple or sunflower seeds, which will keep your mouth busy. Do something that keeps your hands busy, and before you know it, the urge will have passed. This is why you want to get rid of tobacco supplies when you decide to quit. You don't want to have any on hand when a craving hits.
  • Identify rationalizations. If you find yourself thinking, "I'll just smoke one to get through this tough time" or "Just one won't hurt," recognize it as a message that can derail your plan. Review your reasons for quitting, and replace that thought with something positive to support your stopping.
  • Talk to a support person. If you're feeling anxious or depressed or need encouragement, a support person can help you get through a difficult craving.
  • Avoid high-risk situations. Know your triggers, and stay away from people, places and situations that tempt you to smoke.
  • Eat regular, healthy meals. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drink more water.

Coping and support

To stay smoke-free over the long haul, consider these tips:

  • Stay motivated. Decide to quit, pick a date and create a plan to make it happen. Start by thinking about the mixed feelings you may have about smoking. Then make a list of your reasons for stopping smoking.
  • Don't get discouraged if you slip. Remember, it's common to lapse, and sometimes relapse. But your goal is no smoking at all — even light or occasional smoking is dangerous. You can learn from past experiences about what may have led to a lapse or relapse. Armed with that knowledge, you'll be stronger during your next attempt.
  • Identify your major smoking triggers and challenges. This will help you solve problems and have a plan to deal with high-risk situations.
  • Seek support. Social support is key to achieving a stable and solid, smoke-free life. Ask your family, friends and co-workers for support and encouragement. Be direct, and let them know what specifically helps you most.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Think of one or two phrases to use repeatedly for encouragement, such as "I am grateful to be smoke-free."
  • Set smoke-free boundaries. If there's another smoker in your household, set boundaries by making your home and car smoke-free. Ask smoking co-workers not to offer you a smoke or invite you outside for a smoke break.
  • Regularly review the benefits you're getting from quitting. Short-term benefits include breathing easier, saving money and having better-smelling clothes. Long-term benefits include a lower risk of disease, increased chances for a longer life and a healthier environment for your family. Add up how much money you've saved.
  • Avoid alcohol. Drinking is a high-risk situation. Avoid drinking situations until you're confident that you can remain smoke-free.
  • Reward yourself. Buy a magazine, go to the park, meet a friend for lunch or take a class.

Prevention

The best way to prevent tobacco dependence is to not smoke in the first place.

The best way to prevent your children from smoking is to not smoke yourself. Research has shown that children whose parents do not smoke or who successfully quit smoking are much less likely to take up smoking.

Here are steps you can take to prevent future generations from nicotine addiction and the many diseases associated with smoking:

  • Talk to your children about smoking. Tell them about the dangers of tobacco. Encourage them to value good health. You can be a great influence on whether your children smoke, despite what they see in movies and on the web.
  • Stay in touch with your teens. Studies show that smoking is most likely to become a habit during the teen years. Ask whether their friends smoke. Those who have friends who smoke are more likely to start smoking than those who don't. Help them plan ways to handle peer pressure. Let your child know that other forms of tobacco, including cigars and smokeless tobacco, also carry significant health risks.
  • Promote smoke-free environments. Ban smoking in your home. Support legislation to make all workplaces smoke-free. Encourage smoke-free public places, including restaurants. Become active in community and school-based stop-smoking programs.
  • Support legislation to increase taxes on tobacco products. Higher prices discourage teens from starting to smoke. Higher prices on tobacco products, coupled with smoke-free workplace laws, are the most effective public health policies to reduce smoking in adults and prevent young people from ever starting.
May 03, 2016
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