Most smokers are both physically and psychologically addicted to cigarettes. As a result, when they give up smoking, their bodies experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, and depression, which can last up to three months.
Is there an upside to quitting cold turkey?
Flying solo may not be the most successful way to quit, but it does have certain advantages. It takes less time and less work than going to counseling sessions, keeping appointments, and digging deep into the emotional and mental issues behind your smoking habit.
If you do decide to quit without any outside help, that doesn't mean you shouldn't at least have a plan. In fact, one of the reasons why unaided attempts fail so often, Glynn says, is because most smokers decide to quit on the spur of the moment or without adequate planning. "Quitting smoking is a process," he adds. "Cold-turkey quits would be much more successful if smokers prepared ahead of time."
- Have a plan. Decide on a quit day and get rid of any items that remind you of smokinglike lighters and ashtraysahead of time. Inform your friends and family that you are going to quit and ask for their encouragement.
- Switch it up. Change your routine. If you always smoke when you go out with a certain group of friends, take a break from themor at least from activities related to smokinguntil your withdrawal symptoms subside.
- Keep your mouth busy. Experts say that keeping your mouth occupiedwith sugarless gum, cinnamon sticks, or even drug-free, imitation cigarettescan help you fight the urge to light up.
- Drink water. Rather than munching on food to satisfy your nicotine cravings (which can cause the weight gain that often accompanies smoking cessation), sipping water can keep your mouth occupied and will help you feel alert. Try carrying a water bottle around with you to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
- Avoid alcohol and coffee. Stay away from drinks that you may associate with lighting up. "For many smokers, cigarettes and alcohol are interconnected," says Glynn. "You want to break that connection for a while during quitting."
- Be active. Easing yourself into a light exercise routine can distract you from smoking, motivate you to stay healthy, and help you avoid post-cessation weight gain.
- Inspire yourself. Make a list of all the reasons why you want to quit and keep it in your pocket. Look at it when you get discouraged.
If after all this you still find yourself struggling with cravings but dont want to resort to medication, get some support. Find an online smoking-cessation aid, such as the American Lung Associations Freedom from Smoking program or a local support group, such as Nicotine Anonymous.