You've been thinking about quitting smoking for a while now, or you may already have decided to accept the mission and put yourself and your health first.
When you're planning to quit, it's normal to have lots of questions about the experience. One of the most common is: How am I going to feel when my body and brain are withdrawing from nicotine?
It is true that as your body works to rid itself of nicotine, you may experience some symptoms of withdrawal.1 The good news is, the more you know about the symptoms, and when they might hit, the better prepared you will be to beat them and emerge the winner.
So, regardless of where you are in your planning to quit journey, let’s take a look at the very first step of the mission in front of you: Week 1.
Step 1: The first week. This is the toughest part. But you’re stronger than the withdrawal. You can beat it.
So, what might you be going through in week 1?
Feeling irritable, angry, anxious or down. It’s normal to feel emotional in the first weeks after you quit, but it will pass. Try and think of it as just a passing phase – you and your emotions will calm down and you will begin to feel like yourself again … just without the cigarettes.2
Crazy cravings. The urge to smoke will pass within a few minutes. Try and resist each urge when it strikes. The cravings will gradually get less frequent until they are just a distant memory.2
Restlessness, difficulty concentrating or sleeping problems. Try practising deep breathing, listen to some music, or learn some relaxation techniques like yoga. Make sure you take a break from caffeine too, as it will only heighten those restless feelings.2
Increased appetite and weight gain.2 Try upping your exercise – not only can it reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, it can help you manage your weight.2 Keep some healthy snacks on hand for when the hunger strikes.
Feeling physical. Although they are not as common, some people might experience some physical symptoms in the first few weeks. These might include:2
- cold like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat or sneezing
- dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- mouth ulcers.
If you’d like more help in understanding smoking withdrawal symptoms you're likely to encounter or that you're already experiencing, it’s well worth a visit to your doctor. You're up to 4x more likely to succeed in quitting with the help of a healthcare professional compared to quitting unaided.4 So talk to your doctor about finding a way to put these symptoms, and the first week, behind you.
Once you've got through week 1, you will have made it through the hardest part.3 Let’s see what weeks 2–4 have in store.