Be Prepared for Challenges
Most people hit some bumps in the road during their journey to quit smoking. Making plans to meet these challenges will help you stay quit for good.
Concern about Weight Gain
Some people gain weight when they stop smoking, but some do not. The average amount of weight gained, 7 to 10 pounds, has little to no impact on your health. Even with this weight gain, you are still much better off than if you had continued to smoke. The amount of weight you gain has no bearing on your ability to stay quit—but the more worried you are about it, the more it becomes a barrier to staying quit. Staying focused on the goal of quitting for now knowing you can lose the weight later will help you with this challenge. In the meantime, eating healthy foods and increasing your physical activity is a great addition to your quit plan Some things you can try include:
- Nibbling on low-fat snacks such as carrots, fresh fruit, plain popcorn or sugarless gum.
- Find a fun activity where smoking doesn't fit in, like jogging, walking or even dancing.
- Nicotine replacement has been shown to delay weight gain.
Overcoming Urges to Smoke
Urges and cravings to smoke can be very strong. Having tools to manage these feelings is an important part of every quit plan. Although urges can feel overwhelming it can help to know that urges will pass in three to five minutes, whether you smoke or not. Simple things you can do to prepare for urges and cravings:
- Call or text a friend and ask them to distract you for a few minutes.
- Leave the situation that makes you want to smoke. For example, being at a party where alcohol is served may make you want a cigarette. You could walk around the block or better yet, avoid these kinds of situations until you feel more confident.
- Nicotine replacement or other stop smoking medications can help lessen the intensity of urges and cravings.
Coping with Withdrawal Symptoms
Many tobacco users experience withdrawal symptoms during the first few weeks after they quit. Some common symptoms:
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling antsy, anxious or restless
You may also be grouchy, irritable, nervous or pushy. These symptoms will lessen and finally go away as you get used to not smoking. Most symptoms subside in about two weeks. Quit-smoking medications are very helpful for withdrawal symptoms. Talk with your healthcare provider to see if medication is right for you.
Be Patient with Yourself
The work of quitting is important and difficult. Be kind to yourself during your quit smoking journey. You are trying to break an addiction and that's no small feat! Reward yourself for hour-to-hour, day-to-day progress, not perfection. In addition to physical symptoms, you may feel irritable or short-tempered, even with well-meaning friends and family. Know that this will pass and that you'll be back to feeling like your usual self soon.
Take time to celebrate even small milestones during your journey to quit smoking. Set small and then larger goals for milestones like a day smokefree, a week smokefree and so on then reward yourself when you achieve them. Some ideas for rewards include downloading new music, an afternoon at the movies, a new book and a night out on the town. Celebrating your progress helps you stay on track and keeps you looking forward to your next milestone.
Join our online quit smoking support group and discussion community on Inspire. Visit Quit Now: Freedom From Smoking® to sign up. You can also get more help and ideas from the quit-smoking specialists at our Lung HelpLine by calling 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).
Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed February 25, 2019.
Page Last Updated: March 4, 2019
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