The benefits of quitting smoking are numerous and can save you, your wallet and your health not just in the long run, but even a few days after you quit smoking. If you’re reading this because you’ve decided to take that step, it is best to know what happens to you and your body when you stop smoking. This is a timeline of the symptoms that you may experience, so don’t fret if you feel uncomfortable when you’re trying to quit smoking, everyone goes through most, or at least some of the effects listed here. It may seem difficult at first, but as your body eventually adjusts, know that your efforts will all be worth it.
- Minutes after your Last Cigarette
You’ve just decided that this is your last stick. The withdrawal you think you feel right now is mostly psychological as you think about the possible times that you will be tempted to light up. During this time, it is best to shake off the feeling and try to live in the present as much as possible. Set your mind on the positive effects that quitting smoking will bring you, and you’ll be ready to start the journey to becoming a non-smoker.
- Four hours after the Last Stick
Your psychological nicotine alarm rings, and you are left wondering why you haven’t gone out to smoke yet. The restlessness makes you feel uneasy and wanting to go out for just one more stick, but you have to fight it off. The body feels slightly deprived of nicotine at this point, especially if you’re a regular smoker who lights up at least a pack of cigs a day. Take your mind off the desire to smoke and do something useful, like cleaning or doing laundry to keep your hands and mind busy.
- 10 Hours: the Brain Starts Noticing
It feels like you’re having a serious bout of insomnia as you try to force your body to sleep, but it doesn’t seem to follow you. The mind starts craving for a cigarette, with you starting to think of reasons why you should go out and light one up. Fight off the urge and start developing a nighttime routine to keep the mind from wandering. Read a book before bed, or take a melatonin pill, which can help you get your needed snooze on.
- The Next Day: The Mind Protests
Nicotine withdrawal doesn’t hurt physically, but it does have a lot of other symptoms that may make you think that physical pain isn’t so bad. Intense food cravings (usually sweets) are part of the spectrum of withdrawal, which may be the reason that people who are trying to quit smoking can gain weight during the process (it can be controlled and reversed though, don’t worry). Frustration and irritability also come into play, as well as anxiety. Keep your mind on your goal, and don’t let these symptoms bring you back to square one. Willpower and a good support system from friends can help you keep yourself on track.
- Two Days: The Great Headache
About two days after your last cigarette, you will experience dull headaches that may hamper your ability to think clearly, making you want another stick to maybe ease the pain. Your stress levels are also off the charts, making you edgy and irritable with the most minor problems encountered. All this stress makes you want to go out and light up. Refrain from doing so, because you’re going to make it through this stage. It won’t last long, and you will emerge victorious.
- Three Days: Getting Better at This
The worst phase of withdrawal symptoms is finally over, and you can rest on the thought that at this point your cravings will start to subside, and your mood will begin to lighten up. Nicotine takes 3 days to leave your system, and things will go up from here, don’t worry. Try to inform your smoker friends that you are quitting smoking and that they shouldn’t offer you a stick, because at this point your willpower may shatter at the mention of cigarettes. Keep focused, and carry on with your daily activities. You are almost there.
- One Week Off: All in Your Head
You’ve made it, and all that’s left of the cravings are the oral fixations that cigarette smoking has left you with. Your body stopped needing nicotine, and you are able to breathe better. You’ll also start noticing positive changes in your body, like not being winded after climbing a flight of stairs, or starting to want to keep up the lifestyle by starting an exercise routine now that you don’t feel tired so easily. Quitting smoking is one of the best decisions you’ve made, and now you’re ready to put more effort into staying healthy.