Managing Nicotine Withdrawal
How Does it Feel to Quit?
Craving for nicotine
If you aren't using a nicotine replacement treatment, you may have cravings. Cravings last only a few minutes, but will feel much longer at first. Stay busy, especially during the times when you used to smoke. Plan a small snack or distracting task during these times.
The frustration of leaving your desire for nicotine unfulfilled affects your mood. Know that your emotions will be intensified for the first few weeks after you quit. Talk about your mood, and the fact that you've quit smoking, to anyone in the line of fire. Going for a walk or other exercise can take the edge off.
Smokers with pre-existing anxiety disorders have a harder time quitting. Other quitters may have new feelings of anxiety. Anticipating this frame of mind, and knowing that it's related to quitting is the first step. Try to wait it out, or take a break to talk to a friend who knows what you are going through.
Some of the prescription drugs for smoke cessation treatment also treat depression. If you are quitting without those, realize that you may start to feel down. If you have planned a support system and engaging distractions for your transition to the non-smoking life, rely on them.
Metabolic changes and increased circulation after quitting smoking bring on sweating. Dress to stay cool, and drink plenty of water.
Tingling in hands and feet
Your circulatory system is making positive adjustments after you quit, which can create some new sensations. A tingle in the extremities is a good thing. Just wait it out.
Could be a circulatory effect, or a result of tension and anxiety from craving. Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen if you usually do. Try deep breathing or meditation to relieve tension.
Cramps and nausea
Smoking can cause peptic ulcers and other digestive ailments. As your digestive tract recovers from your time as a smoker, you can feel temporary discomfort. Avoid spicy, irritating foods as you wait for this phase to pass.
Nicotine is a stimulant, so it has definitely affected your sleep-wake cycle. Treat yourself to extra soothing activities before bedtime: a warm bath, a massage, total quiet.
Nicotine gives smokers focus and clarity. Its absence can make you feel a bit foggy. When confusion takes over, stop. If you're in the middle of a task, take a break. Confusion gradually dissipates as you adjust to the absence of nicotine.
Some smokers fear gaining weight so much they don't attempt to quit. Most quitters gain fewer than 10 pounds. “Weight gain following smoking cessation is mostly due to decreased metabolic rate, increased food intake, and decreased physical activity” after quitting, says Michael D. Stein, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Community Health at Brown University. “Also, an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which affects fat cells' metabolism, becomes more active after you quit. And some appetite control agents, including leptin and neuropeptide Y, are influenced by nicotine.” Dr. Stein notes that those who are concerned about gaining weight are more likely to relapse after quitting. Exercise would be a great substitute for smoking, if you're concerned about gaining weight.