Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Smoking: Steps to Help You Break the Habit

Why does it seem so hard to stop smoking?

Smoking causes changes in your body and in the way you act. The changes in your body are caused by an addiction to nicotine. The changes in the way you act developed over time as you bought cigarettes, lit them and smoked them. These changes have become your smoking habit.

When you have a smoking habit, many things seem to go along with having a cigarette. These might include having a cup of coffee or an alcoholic drink, being stressed or worried, talking on the phone, driving, socializing with friends or wanting something to do with your hands.

How can I stop smoking?

You'll have the best chance of stopping if you do the following:
  • Get ready.
  • Get support and encouragement.
  • Learn how to handle stress and the urge to smoke.
  • Get medication and use it correctly.
  • Be prepared for relapse.
  • Keep trying.

How should I get ready to stop smoking?

Set a stop date 2 to 4 weeks from now so you'll have time to get ready. Write down your personal reasons for stopping. Be specific. Keep your list with you so you can look at it when you feel the urge to smoke.

To help you understand your smoking habit, keep a diary of when and why you smoke. Using information from this diary, you and your doctor can make a plan to deal with the things that make you want to smoke.

Just before your stop date, get rid of all of your cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays.

What will happen when I stop smoking?

How you feel when you stop depends on how much you smoked, how addicted your body is to nicotine and how well you get ready to stop smoking. You may crave a cigarette or feel hungrier than usual. You may feel edgy and have trouble concentrating. You also may cough more at first, and you may have headaches.

These things happen because your body is used to nicotine. They are called nicotine withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms are strongest during the first few days after you stop smoking, but most go away within a few weeks.

Will I gain weight when I stop smoking?

Most people gain a few pounds after they stop smoking. Remember that any weight gain is a minor health risk compared to the risks of smoking. Dieting while you're trying to stop smoking will cause unnecessary stress. Instead, limit your weight gain by having healthy, low-fat snacks on hand and being physically active.

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