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Hell Week & Beyond
Congratulations!! Youve made it
past one of the most important decisions of your life! You have a lot to be proud
of. You have learned about your nicotine dependence, asked for
support from friends and family, considered using medicines, and gotten your environment
ready. Now its time to put it all into action. Hell week (what QuitNet users call the week after your Quit Day) may be the week youve been dreading
but it doesnt have to be that way. You dont have to go through it alone. If you know what to expect, plan ahead, and know exactly what to do when the really tough times hit, youll be surprised how quickly these weeks will pass.
The most important thing to remember is this:
beginning to smoke again, even just one puff, will increase urges
and make quitting even more difficult.
Break The Habit
Your urge to smoke may be quite strong,
but the good news is that just as you learned how to smoke, you can unlearn
how to smoke as well. It takes a lot of practice. Small changes
in your daily routines that are associated with cigarettes are the key to breaking
the habit. Try at least one of the following strategies each day:
Change habits that
you associate with smoking.
If you typically smoke while talking
on the phone, talk in a different room, hold the phone in the other hand, or
sit in a different chair. If you usually smoke while sitting in your favorite
chair, avoid that chair for a while.
Keep busy. Take
up a hobby, go to the movies, go for a walk, work around the house, call or
visit friends, write letters, read a book, use QuitNet
are endless. One ex-smoker we know of built a beautiful deck on the back
of his house while he was quitting smoking!
Keep your hands and mouth
occupied. Try sugarless mints or gum, toothpicks, cinnamon sticks,
carrot and celery sticks, crushed ice, or water. QuitNet members find that
typing messages keeps their fingers busy and gets them support during a strong
between Slips and Relapses
Now that your quit day has arrived,
lets talk for a minute about slips. This is a very important word
that you need to understand. A slip is when you smoke one or two times
after your quit date. Its different than relapse, which is when
you go back to smoking the way you have always smoked. Its extremely
common for people who have just quit to have slips and to feel really bad about
them. The problem is that feeling bad often leads to another cigarette
and can easily undo all your hard work. QuitNet members often work out their
feelings about slipsand get the support they need to continue their quiton
the QuitStop Forum.
If you slip, remember
- A slip is an opportunity to think
about what went wrong and how to prevent it the next time.
- One cigarette does not make you
a smoker again. One cigarette didn't make you a smoker in the first
place, and one slip now doesn't mean you have to go back to smoking again.
- Slips are learning opportunities,
Be Good to
Positive self-talk is an important
element of taking good care of yourself today and in the weeks to come.
What you say to yourself can have a strong impact on your success. Remind
yourself of the important reasons you are quitting and tell yourself:
- This is going to be tough, but
I will take it one day at a time.
- Im going to focus on being
a nonsmoker today.
- I am in control of my life, and
choose to be smoke-free.
- I have stopped the one habit that
contributes most to poor health. My heart, lungs, and overall health
- The air at home and in the car
is cleaner for my family and friends because I quit smoking.
- The money I have saved by not
smoking will be used for something fun and positive in my life.
- I am setting a good example for
my children by quitting smoking for good.
Call on Supportive
Find a friend or a QuitNet buddy to
be supportive on your Quit Date. Make plans to go for a walk, meet for
dinner, or just to check in during the day. Another ex-smoker may be able
to offer helpful insight in getting through today and the next few weeks.
Your QuitNet family can be especially helpful during this time. Ask the Qster
experts how they are planning to quit and how they have quit successfully already!
What to Expect:
Withdrawal and Recovery Symptoms
Understanding the changes your body
goes through when you quit smoking is the first step towards dealing with them.
The physical changes that come with nicotine withdrawal can cause increased
tension and irritability, sadness or depression, a loss of energy, or temporary
difficulties with concentration. Nicotine replacement medications (NRT)
are very effective in alleviating many of these symptoms. Even if you
dont use NRT, remember that these effects are all short-lived and in just
a few weeks your body will adjust to being a non-smoker.
It may be helpful to explain the possible effects of these physical changes
to friends, family, and coworkers.
Developing new ways to relax and cope with stress is critical to quitting for
good. Smokers often say that cigarettes help them deal with stress and
that having too much stress makes it hard to quit. Stress is one of the
most common reasons many smokers go back to smoking. This section covers
different strategies for coping with stress to stay smoke-free.
Exercise is a great way to manage
stress. Doing something active will help to take your mind off the stressful
situation. Physically, getting some exercise will help burn off the
chemicals that your body releases when you are stressed so that you feel less
tense and fatigued. Youll feel less like smoking while you are
exercising and afterwards.
Sit in a chair with your upper body
resting forward on your lap. Slowly roll up, starting at the base of
your spine, until your back is straight. Stretch neck muscles by tilting
your head to the right and slowly rolling your head down to the left.
Repeat a few times in both directions.
Your Support Network
What we know from all of our QuitNet members is that getting support from
others is a key element throughout the quitting process and beyond.
This is consistent with about 30 years of research which shows that smokers
have a much better chance of quitting if they have help from others.,
Dont try to go it alone. Use the people in your existing support
network, or take advantage of other QuitNet members waiting to hear from you.
Talking with others helps to reduce stress, improve mood, and boost confidence
that you can make it through the tough times.
Table of Contents
Alan S. Peters, CTTS-M
Making the Decision | Getting Ready
Hell Week & Beyond | Staying Quit
Andy Perez, MD, MBA, FACEP, February 2009
|Q: My family's hounding me about quitting, but I'm not sure I want to? answer|
|Women over 35 who smoke and use "the pill" (oral contraceptives) are in a high-risk group for heart attack, stroke, and blood clots of the legs.|
Advice? Come at quitting with humor and good cheer. You won’t feel like that all the time, who does? But dig deep! You CAN do this!
That indefinable quality possessed by people who have quit and stayed quit. It is next to godliness.