Your Quit Day is one of the most important days of your life. You have gotten ready to quit. You have thought about it. You understand your smoking habit and you know why you want to quit. You’ve learned many things to help you make it over the next few weeks without smoking.
You can do it! You’re well prepared and ready to be smoke-free for life. Soon you will be the nonsmoker you want to be.
The Day Before.
It is important to quit with determination, not with a whimper. Stay focused, and get your energy and confidence concentrated on the big change you’re making in your life.
Quitting is a big step, a major change in your life. It’s natural to be worried and nervous. Try to think of yourself as being more geared up and excited than worried and nervous. Think about why you want to do this. Make sure you are clear on your reasons for quitting.
To make you feel more confident, review your plans now and you’ll realize you really have arranged to make this a success. Ask yourself: How have you done in eliminating the cigarettes associated with your strongest urges? If you’ve done well, your quitting will be a lot easier because those killer cigarettes won’t be half as big an issue as you had feared. Here are important questions to think about:
• What creative alternatives do you have lined up to take the place of cigarettes?
• What are your will-power strategies for fighting temptation after you quit?
• What plans do you have for getting cooperation and encouragement from your family and friends?
When you review these questions, you will gain confidence, because you will feel prepared. It will be hard because you will be giving up something that you will really miss. But stay determined and be well prepared.
Here are some points to keep in mind as you begin to get ready for the big day:
1) Quitting smoking is important and difficult. You are taking on a big task. So remember to be nice to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. If you can become smoke-free in the next few weeks, you don’t need to do anything else to prove you’re a hero.
2) Plan an easy day for your Quit Day. You may want it to be a busy one, so you have lots of distractions. Or you may want it to be a relaxing one. Regardless, try to make it a day with the fewest demands possible.
3) Remind your family and friends that you’re counting on their cooperation and encouragement in the next week or two. You might want to ask someone you think is really understanding to spend some time hearing you out about your feelings.
4) Make sure you reward yourself. If you haven’t planned some reward for the first day or two, you should consider it. Rewards are not the reason you quit, but they can help show to yourself that what you’re doing is important and that it’s worth a little enjoyment. Of course, the best reward is quitting itself. But you deserve many more rewards for not smoking. Rewards don’t have to be big and expensive (they can even be free). But reward yourself with things you care about or like.
Start Spreading the News
Before you quit it is a good idea to tell your friends, your family, and your coworkers that you are going to be smoke-free as of tomorrow. Even those whom you are not going to look to for support should still know. The more people around you who know you are quitting, the less you will want to give in to temptations. Also, many people will want to help you quit and will be happy to give you some encouragement.
Quitting is an important step for you, but there are sure to be some unhappy people who won’t understand that you’re going through and may not make it easy for you. But don’t let anyone put you down. Rehearse in your mind how you’ll reply to negative comments.
If you’re planning to use nicotine gum, nicotine patches, or any other form of nicotine replacement, be sure you have these items on hand, so they’ll be ready for use. Do read the instructions thoroughly, but don’t start using any of these products until you eventually stop smoking. You must quit smoking completely before you use any nicotine replacement. If you don’t follow this important caution, you could develop serious side effects caused by an overdose of nicotine.
If your doctor has prescribed Zyban (the non-nicotine pill) or any other medications, be sure that you are taking this medication as directed, so that it will be an effective level in your body on your Quit Day.
Your Creative Alternatives
In preparation for your Quit Day, today is also a good day to get out your Survival Kit that you packed. Be sure you have a good supply of sugarless candy and gum, drink-stirring sticks, and any other items you can turn to when you feel tempted by cigarettes.
Spend some time thinking about when you will use the Creative Alternatives you have identified for yourself. You might even pick a couple of situations during the day when you would normally have a cigarette, such as while talking on the phone or after dinner. Instead, try one of your Creative Alternatives.
Learn to Relax and Relieve Stress
Simply reviewing all your preparations and thinking about the challenge ahead will make most people a bit tense and nervous. This is the time to exercise and relieve stress, or do a bit of relaxation exercise. Here’s what you can do:
• Sit down anywhere and close your eyes.
• Think about something that makes you feel good.
• Relax your shoulders. Close your mouth. Inhale slowly and as deeply as you can. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
• Hold your breath while you count to four.
• Exhale slowly, letting out all of the air from your lungs.
• Slowly repeat these steps five times.
Do this relaxing exercise at least once every day at least until you feel secure that you are done with cigarettes. You may want to do it more often in the next couple of weeks. It is a great Creative Alternative to smoking.
The Night Before Your Quit Day
• Be good to yourself. Eat food you like. Watch a video. Take a long bath.
• Get a good night’s sleep and be well rested for the big day ahead. (Tonight you’ll have your last cigarette).
• Get rid of all the cigarettes in the house.
• Look for any cigarettes that may be in the pockets of your clothes in the cupboards, in your office, in your car. Get rid of all of them now. Run water on them or crumble them up, if that helps.
• Get rid of ashtrays, lighters, and matches.
• Go through your reasons for not smoking. Reflect on what they mean to you. Try to add another reason to your list.
• Try to go to sleep feeling good about yourself. You are about to do something that will be hard, but will give you lots of satisfaction for many years to come.
Your Quit Day
This is the big day! You’re well prepared and ready to be smoke-free. You’ve waited for it, dreaded it at times, maybe even looked forward to it. Feel confident as you take the big step in this very important accomplishment.
To get your day started right, get up right away and head straight for the shower. If you’ve been accustomed to smoking immediately on waking up, this quick shower will help you start right on your first day as a nonsmoker. If you’re going to use nicotine gum or the nicotine patch, now is the time to start. Follow the directions on the package or in the guidelines given to you by your doctor.
Get dressed and eat breakfast pretty quickly this morning. If your usual routine is to linger over breakfast coffee with a cigarette, skip coffee today. Or buy it on your way to work – in a shop where no smoking is allowed.
When eating lunch, taking a work break, or going out to shop, choose places where smoking is not allowed. And for your first few days as a nonsmoker try to make an effort to spend more time with people who don’t smoke. On the other hand, if you are going to be with smokers, tell people ahead of time that you have quit and that they should not offer you a cigarette. If you’re with people whom you don’t know well, you may feel somewhat uncomfortable with this announcement. But many people will congratulate you. If someone does slip and offers you a cigarette, remember to say a firm “No!” to temptation.
Today also may be a good time to keep your schedule pretty full, so you won’t have time on your hands. Line up some easy chores, favorite magazines, or jobs that must get done right away, that way, if you have even a few minutes with nothing to do, you can immediately keep yourself busy.
Think about all the difficult things you try to do in life: eating well, staying organized, keeping the pile of bills on your desk to a minimum. In a lot of way, quitting smoking is harder than each of these. But here’s a good way of looking at it: Once you put out that last cigarette, you became an ex-smoker. You don’t have to do anything more.
In contrast, think about someone who needs to lose twenty pounds. They can work hard for a week, lose three pounds, feel great for a moment, and then they realize they still have to lose about 15 more! Or think about yourself and exercising, doing the laundry, or paying the bills. You feel great that you got a good workout today, got fresh sheets on all the beds, or got the desk clear. But tomorrow and next week and next month, you’ll need to exercise, do the laundry, or pay the bills all over again.
Of course, staying off cigarettes is going to be hard, especially over the next week or so. But if you can stay off, you’ve reached your goal. You don’t have to do anything more, and you don’t have to quit again tomorrow or next week or next month.
The first day of quitting is tough. You may feel you have little energy to do much else than hold on. It’s normal to have a hard time today. It doesn’t really mean there’s anything wrong with you. And it certainly doesn’t mean that your case is too hard, that you can’t quit. So don’t be scared. Be easy on yourself.
Symptoms of Recovery
Quitting smoking brings on a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. Of course, there is no way to avoid all the physical effects, but what can help is knowing what to expect, and how to deal with it.
For some people, coping with recovery symptoms is like riding a roller coaster. Most symptoms decrease after the first few days. Some stop totally after about three days. But some may get worse after a day or two. This may be partly psychological – the first day or two, your enthusiasm may keep you from recognizing some of your reactions to quitting. But most symptoms pass within two to four weeks.
Here are some of the most common symptoms, and the best ways to relieve them.
Irritability. Exercise. Use the method described above to relieve stress. Take walks, hot baths, and use nicotine replacement.
Fatigue. Take naps, try to take it easy, and be gentle on yourself. Try nicotine replacement.
Insomnia. Use the stress relief method. Avoid caffeine, including chocolate after 6PM.
Cough. Dry throat. Nasal drip. Drink plenty of fluids, and use cough drops.
Dizziness. Use extra caution driving, operating machinery, climbing stairs. Change positions slowly.
Poor concentration. Plan workload accordingly. Avoid unnecessarily demanding assignments during the first week.
Constipation, Gas. Drink plenty of fluids, and add roughage to your diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals).
Hunger. Drink water or low-calorie liquids. Be prepared with low-calorie snacks.
Craving for a cigarette. Try one of your Creative Alternatives, and wait out the urge (urges only last a few minutes). Distract yourself, exercise, go for a walk.
No matter how hard you plan, you’re sure to hit a few situations where you’re really dying for a cigarette. Don’t start to panic.
Craving a cigarette is often the most difficult side effect of quitting. If you have trouble remembering all your Creative Alternatives, or if you’re caught without a plan and have a really strong craving, here some quick tips to help you.
1. Delay. The urge to smoke will pass whether you smoke or not.
2. Deep breathing will help you relax and release stress.
3. Drink lots of water. This will help ease many of the symptoms of quitting.
4. Do something to take your mind off smoking.
Also, don’t forget your alternative activities. Chew on a stirring stick. If you’re using nicotine gum, remember to chew it frequently during the day. Make a telephone call. Take a walk. Even if you’re inside at home or in an office, you can walk into another room, pick up something to read for a few minutes, or go to the bathroom and brush your teeth.
If you’re still finding it hard to control your urge, call one of your key friends or family members. Follow through on your plan to contact them for encouragement. If you need their help, or even just to hear them lecture you, do it. It will help.
Of course, plans are easier to make than to keep. Most often people stop doing the things that will help them stay off cigarettes. They may get distracted by their own discomfort or by other activities in their lives or they may just “forget.”
But stick to your plan. Make it a priority. Remember:
1) Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you’ll do all year. It deserves your time and attention even if that means putting some other important things “on hold” for a little while.
2) Practice healthy selfishness. If you slip, you will be responsible. But it’s your right today and for the next few weeks and months to do the things you need to do to stay off cigarettes.
Right now, while you’re concentrating on getting through the day without smoking, it’s probably difficult to focus on the benefits of quitting. But this can be a great tool for success. For many people, recognizing benefits is an excellent source of motivation to keep on resisting the urge.
Did you know that your body is already starting to show the benefits of quitting? In fact, the moment you quit smoking, your body began to repair the damage. Within a half hour of your last cigarette, your blood pressure and pulse rate began to move back to normal. Within merely eight hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood dropped to normal and your oxygen level increased.
By quitting just for one day, you have already decreased your chance of having a sudden heart attack!
You’re well on the road to a longer, healthier, happier life. Congratulations! You’re a non-smoker now!