The highly addictive chemical in cigarettes, nicotine, the big reason why millions of people continue to smoke even though there are so many health implications. When you deprive your brain of nicotine, you are likely to experience symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety, anger, disturbed sleep, headaches or feelings of depression and possibly other physical symptoms. While the first few days are the worst, these symptoms subside after 2-4 weeks. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can significantly increase your chances of success when trying to quit smoking, but you also need to combine this with a commitment to a new way of living.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) involves giving smokers an alternative source of nicotine while they quit cigarettes to ease the symptoms of withdrawal and lessen cravings. The idea is that the NRT provides your brain with the nicotine without the harmful toxins such as tar. You can read about the effect of nicotine on the brain here. Over time, the NRT gradually reduces the amount of nicotine your brain receives until you no longer need nicotine. There are various forms of NRT including:
- Skin patches which stick to the skin where they deliver nicotine
- Chewing gum or lozenges which release nicotine as you chew
- Using e-cigarettes, also known as vaping.
Smoking e-cigarettes or vaping is inhaling an electronic device which turns liquids (which are often flavored) and nicotine into vapor which recreates the physical act of smoking and delivers a hit of nicotine without the harmful toxins involved in cigarettes. You can find out more about vaping here in this guide to Vape Mods and Box Mods.
In addition to the nicotine withdrawal symptoms, many people find lifestyle habits hard to change such as smoking when drinking alcohol, after meals or first thing in the morning. These living habits can take longer to change, but it absolutely can be done with the right support. The environments you live and work in will play a big part in how much temptation you’ll face. If you work or socialize with others who smoke, you’ll find it much harder to resist the temptation to give in to your cravings. There are some quit smoking apps which can help people stay focused when they’re faced with a craving. Quitting smoking for the long term is not just about cutting out cigarettes, it’s about overhauling your lifestyle and adopting healthy habits which will give you and your family a brighter future.
Lifestyle Changes to Help You Quit Smoking
Make a Plan & Stay Positive
Choose a date on which you will quit and stick with it. It’s also a good idea to plan ahead for events or times in your life when it might be harder to withstand your cravings. You should try and come up with some coping mechanisms, so you’re able to stay strong at these times. If you’ve tried to quit in the past but not been able to, use the lessons learnt to fuel you with positivity rather than negativity.
Get to Know Your Cravings
Make a note of when your cravings occur and how long they last. The average craving will last for around 5 minutes so if you can find something else to do for those 5-minute periods you should be able to cope.
Exercise often helps people to quit smoking. Taking part in just 5-10 minutes can reduce cravings as it promotes the release of hormones which are associated with relaxation and positive thinking.
Adjust Your Diet
Certain types of food and drink have been found to make cigarettes taste worse such as cheese, fruit, and vegetables while meat, fizzy drinks, tea, coffee and alcohol can make cigarettes taste more appealing. In addition, smoking and drinking at the same time increases the risk of developing mouth cancer by as much as 38 times. If you usually have a cigarette after meals try and replace this time with another activity such as walking the dog or cleaning the kitchen.
Keep Your Motivations in Mind
If you’ve made the decision to quit, it’s likely that there is something in your life which has driven you to do so. It may be for your current health, future health or for the sake of your family, but whatever it is make sure you always keep it in mind. Make a list of your motivations and keep the list with you.
Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Beat the Cycle of Addiction
Your brain has become addicted to nicotine, but you can beat the cycle by quitting. After around a month the number of nicotine receptors in the brain return to normal levels and will quitting should become easier.
Healthier Heart & Blood
Quitting smoking can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and make your blood thinner. This means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood around your body and you will be less likely to develop blood clots, significantly reducing your risk of a heart attack.
Smoking increases the levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream leading to fatty deposits in arteries. Quitting won’t remove the existing deposits, but you can stop any from forming.
Stop Damaging Your Lungs
While you can’t reverse permanent scarring on your lungs, you can reverse the damage by quitting smoking in less than 2 weeks after quitting. The cilia in your lungs work to clear the lungs of debris so that you can breathe clearly. When you quit smoking the cilia are very quick to repair themselves. While you may cough more at first as the cilia start to work again, you will be less short of breath and better able to fight off infections.
Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
Tobacco smoke includes chemicals which damage our DNA and affect our cells and their ability to function which can lead to cancer. Quitting smoking can help repair damage which has already been caused, prevent any more damage and lower your risk of cancer.
Women: Bring Estrogen Levels Back to Normal
Smoking can reduce estrogen levels and make it harder to become pregnant. However, quitting smoking will help your estrogen levels return to a more normal level so you can maintain a healthy pregnancy at some point in the future.
Men: Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Smoking can lead to erectile dysfunction in men, so quitting as soon as possible will increase your chances of a healthy sex life.
Strengthen Your Immune System
Your body will not only be stronger and less prone to infection, but it will also be better able to repair and recover when you are sick or injured. Smoking lowers your white blood cell count and result in improved blood flow to any wounds you sustain. Blood flow is essential for providing the wound with oxygen, minerals, and nutrients which help the wound to heal.
Cleaner Teeth, Healthier Mouth & Clearer Skin
Only a few days after you quit you should notice that your mouth feels cleaner and your breath fresher. You can stop the damage smoking does to both the teeth and mouth. Smoking also ages the skin, so stopping is a great way to prevent premature wrinkling and blemishes.