Nicotine withdrawal is one of the most difficult challenges smokers face when they quit. Symptoms may include feelings of irritability, dizziness, mild chest pains, fatigue and difficulty concentrating; as well as nausea and abdominal upset, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and more.
Some of these symptoms are due to the emotional and psychological separation from smoking, but more often than not the body's dependence on nicotine sets the newly reformed smoker up for serious discomfort that can last for weeks.
The good news is that there are several ways to minimize withdrawal symptoms so they become more bearable.
This two-part article is going to share many helpful tips for making your quit easier.
- Deep breathing
Smokers tend to breathe very shallowly, so expanding your lungs each day can help you feel better and reduce stress and anxiety - not to mention the benefits of fully oxygenating your body.
How to do it: Whenever you feel a craving coming on (or you're ready to scream because of the emotional tension), simply close your eyes for a few moments and begin inhaling slowly through your nose. Allow your abdomen to expand first, then as your lungs fill, your chest will expand also. When your lungs are full, pause for a second or two, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat a few times slowly so you don't hyperventilate.
Meditation is most often considered to be a spiritual pursuit, but it has amazing benefits for anyone - especially people who are dealing with the stress of quitting smoking!
How to do it: Meditating can be as simple as closing your eyes and quieting your thoughts for a few minutes a day. Sit or lie in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and consciously release all stressful thoughts from your mind. Focus on the darkness behind your eyelids, or call up a mental scene of something calming, like the last time you were at the beach or a fun camping trip with your family.
Try to hold your attention steady for as long as possible. When random thoughts try to intrude into your mind, gently push them aside and take control of your focus again. Meditation does take practice to master, but you'll probably find that the benefits far outweigh the effort you have to put into it.
- Purging angry or tense feelings
If you used to use smoking as a way to avoid dealing with uncomfortable feelings like anger or stress, you may suddenly find yourself feeling overwhelmed when you try to quit smoking. Suddenly you've got all these feelings coming up - and no idea how to handle them! One simple method is to begin working through your feelings as they arise. This may not always be easy to do (especially if you are used to avoiding them), but over time it will prove to be a much more effective coping technique than smoking.
How to do it: There are many ways to purge your feelings, including writing them down in a journal, blogging about them online (you may want to make it a private blog or be sure your name isn't on it!), or even shouting them aloud into a pillow. There really is no magic system with this method; you simply get into the habit of expressing your emotions in a safe and productive way. You'll probably be surprised to find that expressing your emotions immediately makes you feel better - no need to cover them up with smoking anymore!
There are also more active things you can do to help minimize your nicotine withdrawal symptoms; read Part II of this article for more helpful tips.
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