Withdrawal from nicotine is extremely unpleasant. It’s as if every cell in our bloodstream is crying out for something that it feels is absolutely essential to its existence. But if we can get past those feelings and remain smoke-free, the benefits are almost immediate.
Within 20 minutes after our last cigarettes, we experience a drop in blood pressure, our pulse rate drops, and our extremities warm up as our capillaries expand.
If we can get through the first eight hours, carbon monoxide levels drop to normal and oxygen levels increase. And after only 24 hours of being smoke-free our chances of experiencing a heart attack are reduced.
After about two days, we start to experience improvements in our ability to smell and taste. Our nerve endings begin to re-grow and we find we stay warmer in cold weather. Within about seven days after quitting, the worst of the physical pain has subsided and we can begin to focus on the emotional aspects of the addiction.
The desperate urge to smoke again often has less to do with nicotine withdrawal, since that is usually gone from our systems in about 72 hours. The risk of relapse comes when we have the emotional itch to return to what is familiar. This is when it’s especially important to have a game plan in hand.
In the first few weeks and months, it is important to drink plenty of water, get lots of rest, drink very little (if any) alcohol or caffeine, and eat lots of healthy foods that will bolster our sense of good health.
Have something low-calorie that you can pop in your mouth when you have the urge to smoke. Keep toothpicks, gum, vegetable sticks, and fruit on hand. Write down all the reasons you want to remain smoke-free and refer to that list throughout the day.
Try yoga or meditation to quiet your mind. Get your teeth cleaned so you have beautiful white teeth to flash at people when you tell them about how you have quit smoking.
You are fighting for your life and you need to arm yourself with everything in your power to win. Remember that the physical urge will pass, but so will the emotional urge.
Every day that goes by without a cigarette is a huge success. When you lay your head on the pillow at night, take a moment to congratulate yourself on another day of freedom.