What to Expect When You Quit Smoking: From One Day to 15 Years
Quitting smoking is not an easy task. Something that you have been physically and mentally addicted to for years is not going to leave your system without a fight. If you are thinking about quitting smoking but worried about how it will affect your overall health in the short-term, it’s important to understand the symptoms that your body will go through within the first couple weeks. While your body will thank you in the long run, you’ll need to get through the initial withdrawal period, which is not an easy period to deal with. So many people revert back to cigarettes during this time, but knowing what to expect when you quit smoking may help ease the pain.
If you’re suffering from a nicotine addiction, Udemy has a course that will help you understand addiction and the methods of overcoming it.
The First Couple of Minutes
Did you know that after the first twenty minutes of not smoking, your pulse rate and blood pressure will almost instantly return to normal? It’s pretty surprising what breathing in fresh oxygen can do to your body.
The First Day
After you smoke your last cigarette, within twelve hours the levels of carbon monoxide in your body (which rise every time you take a puff of tobacco) decrease back to almost normal levels. If you need a bit of a nudge to stop smoking, just think about inhaling carbon monoxide every single time you take a drag of that cigarette. The more carbon monoxide in your body, the less oxygen gets to your cells. This can lead to many life-threatening cardiovascular diseases. When your body gets rid of that carbon monoxide, the levels of oxygen in your system instantly begin to return to normal.
If that’s not enough motivation to quit, after the first 24 hours without a cigarette, your risk of a heart attack has already decreased! It’s amazing what an entire day without a cigarette can do for your health. During this time, you’ll be craving cigarettes like mad. Don’t give up! You also may begin to feel some early withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, frustration, an increase in appetite or trouble sleeping.
If you experience intense cravings within the first 24 hours of quitting, doing something with your mouth or hands may help ease the craving. Slowly drink a glass of water, take a couple of deep breaths, and distract yourself from the desire to smoke.
The Next Couple of Days
After years of smoking, your sense of taste and smell can begin to diminish. After you haven’t smoked for a couple of days, you’ll begin to realize that you can smell and taste things much better than you had been able to as a smoker! Now is the time to congratulate yourself with your favorite food. Eat it slowly, and savor your new taste buds.
When you hit day three, most of the nicotine will have left your body. Unfortunately, this is usually when the serious withdrawal symptoms begin to occur. You may begin to feel nauseous or develop headaches. Keep in mind: withdrawal symptoms are signs that your body is ridding itself of all of the harmful chemicals it has held onto over the years! While it isn’t pleasant, keeping this in mind may help you push through this time.
The Next Couple of Weeks
After a couple of weeks without cigarettes have gone by, you’ll begin to realize that you can exercise longer without feeling as winded as you had in the past! Your blood circulation has begun to improve, your lungs – since you’re not filling them with harmful chemicals anymore – will begin to feel clearer and you’ll find that you can breathe easier.
After about two weeks of quitting cigarettes, you’ll notice that you’re having considerably less withdrawal symptoms and cravings as you were during the initial week.
The Next Couple of Months
Depending on how long you were a chronic smoker, your lungs could have been significantly damaged in the process. When you quit smoking, your lungs slowly begin to repair themselves. This entire process may take up to an entire year after quitting, but each day they get better and better. The tiny cilia that help rid the lungs of mucus will regenerate and begin to work properly again, which means that your risk of infection will decrease significantly. During this time, your lung capacity will increase up to 30%. You’ll feel more energized, healthier, and like a completely new you!
The One Year Mark
As you reach one year of quitting, your risk of heart disease has already decreased by an entire 50%! This means you are half as likely to develop heart disease as a person who hasn’t quit smoking yet.
5, 10, and 15 Years Down the Line
As time goes on, your risk of cardiovascular disease and many types of cancers slowly decreases. Once you have hit the 15 year mark, your risk of many fatal illnesses is about the same as a healthy non-smoker.
Don’t Give Up!
Most people don’t quit smoking the first time they try. Withdrawal symptoms hit hard when you least expect it, and they can make even the most dedicated quitter pick up a cigarette and start smoking again. Keep reminding yourself why you are quitting smoking, and how much healthier you are going to be because you are making the conscious decision to quit.
Many people may gain a few pounds after quitting smoking, since smoking cigarettes tends to curb your appetite. Don’t let this get you down! Giving up cigarettes is just the first step to living a healthier life. Now that you have cut harmful chemicals out of your body, it’s time to start an exercise routine, revamp your diet and increase the amount of water you drink in a day. You don’t need to do all of this at once – trying to completely change yourself while trying to quit an addiction can be incredibly overwhelming – but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind during your first year quitting cigarettes. Even taking a walk and eating an apple to curb the craving is a step in the right direction.
- Whenever you feel yourself craving a cigarette, take the money you’d spend on a pack of cigarettes and put it into a jar. It’s amazing how you never really think about how much money you’re spending on cigarettes until all of that money is laid out in front of you. Keep this going until you have a nice stack of cash that you can use to give yourself a reward vacation or spend on something you never had the cash for before. You’d be surprised how those packs of cigarettes can add up!
- If you get a craving for a cigarette and manage to get rid of that craving by eating something, drinking something or participating in an activity of some sort, write that down. When you’re feeling like you’re going to crack and light up a cigarette, refer back to that list and try something that has worked for you in the past.
- Don’t think about the long run. Don’t think about how you’ll never have a cigarette again. Just think about the here and now. Focus on getting through one day without smoking, and you’ll find that it gets easier day after day.
- Chew some gum or suck on a cinnamon stick. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say that they don’t know what they’d do with their hands or mouths if they stop smoking.
- Don’t try to quit cold turkey. Quitting is a long process, and you should slowly acclimate your body to only smoking one cigarette a day before completely cutting nicotine out. E-cigaretts and nicotine patches can help with this, although you should contact a professional before deciding which path is right for you.
You’re not alone in this. Hundreds of thousands of people try to stop smoking every single year. There is plenty of help out there for people who are struggling with addictions and wondering how they can get through the withdrawal period themselves and end up healthier and happier on the other side. If you’re feeling lost and don’t know where to start, Udemy has a course that can help give you the motivation and knowledge you need to quit today.
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