My friend Ronnie called me last night, and it surprised me because we hadn’t spoke with each other in probably 10 years. He had gotten my number from a mutual friend who heard about my website, and the fact that I had given up smoking. Apparently, Ronnie was trying to quit, and was getting nervous after just a few days and didn’t know how to handle it. He said that the sickness and headaches had subsided after 4 days, but that he just could not stop thinking about it no matter what he tried.
Ronnie decided to time his annual vacation to coincide with his plans to quit smoking, and now he was finding himself with nothing to keep his mind off of taking drag and needed some support. I usually advise people to quit while they are going through a difficult time, since this gets your mind accustomed to dealing with negative stress and problems without the crutch of taking a puff on a cigarette. In this case, Ronnie had freed up all of his time, which is in a lot of ways more difficult â because he didnât have deadlines and projects that had to be completed.
I understand his thinking, which was that if he was going through extreme withdrawals and emotional outbursts, he wouldnât tarnish his reputation with his employees. Evidently, he did not expect the withdrawal to be as mild as it was, and after almost a week, he had already been through the toughest part physically.
With most folks that give up smoking, the 3rd day after they stop lighting up is the worst. Usually the levels of the toxins being released into their bloodstream has subsided by the fourth day, and might continue for up to 2 weeks. This happens because tobacco cigarettes have a smorgasbord of different toxic chemicals added to them, and the day after you quit, your body starts to rid itself of these toxins into your blood. This is what makes you feel more sick than anything, and some people think they have the flu when they are going through the first few days of withdrawal.
Now the physical need and cravings for cigarettes is completely different from the psychological need to smoke. The mental fantasies about how great it was to be smoking can continue for some time, even up to 3 or 4 months for some people who quit. Some ex-smokers believe in their minds that they are back to square one, and that they are going to go through the physical withdrawals again when this mental urge to smoke hits them, but these mental cravings usually stop within a few minutes.
Most of the time, people divert their attention to the things in their lives that they have to take care of, and this breaks them out of this âmental movieâ routine. In Ronnieâs case, he was not able to get by these psychological urges because he was sitting around at home by himself, and kept going over his thoughts of smoking â making these mental movies â over and over again in his mind.
The difference between the physical urge to smoke and the mental urge is like when you break a bone. When the bone is broken, it causes extreme pain, and this pain will not go away no matter what anyone tells you or what you think about. It is not until the bone begins to heal that the pain subsides. This is the equivalent of the physical urge. It will not go away no matter what anyone tells you, or what you are thinking about. You experience physical pain, and this persists no matter what is going on around you.
The psychological urge to smoke is like when something causes you to think about that broken bone at some time in the future. Maybe you hear a piece of wood crack, or a clap of thunder, and your mind vividly recalls the pain that you felt when your bone snapped. It is intense for a brief moment, and then it starts to subside. As you redirect your thoughts to something else, the fear and pain completely go away, and this is what it is like with the psychological urge to smoke. There are things you can do, for example turn to vaping to try to quit smoking, this is actually the most popular method to quit these days.
When someone realizes that the urge to smoke has been triggered by something in their environment, this is a valuable moment to not let pass without thinking about what that trigger was. It is usually caused by some form of negative stress around us, and if you can figure out what it was that triggered that urge, it will literally stop being a trigger for you in the future. This is the life of a smoke-free individual. It is a whole new world from when you were living life as a smoker.
You must learn how to effectively deal with the stress you are experiencing without the crutch of smoking cigarettes. You have to realize that the urge to light up you are feeling is a pattern that you have reinforced literally thousands of times as a smoker. You felt stress as a smoker, and immediately reached for a cigarette. It was the way to divert your attention whenever distressing situations or thoughts came into your mind.
Now you heed to find a new way to divert your attention when these same forms of stress affect you. Ex-smokers that have learned to effectively dismantle their triggers usually start by realizing what it was in their environment that acts as that reminder. Sometimes it is a familiar smell, a song on the radio, or it could be that you are in a location that makes you feel like smoking. These are your triggers, and if you can identify them, they will melt away.
You are living life like a different person now. You are not the same person that was weak and turned to a harmful addiction every time something difficult comes up. You have to be happy about your accomplishment, and the fact that you did not light up a cigarette when the trigger set you into that old familiar pattern. You identified the trigger, and got over it. Next time, that trigger will have little if any power over you.