Great American Smokeout: Getting Through the First Weeks

Great American SmokeoutIf you’re one of the millions of people who joined the Great American Smokeout last Thursday you’re probably fighting your way through the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Are you there now?

Here are some tips to support you over the next few weeks. It won’t be all downhill coasting, but it certainly gets easier with each passing week.

Tip 1: Understand that feeling crummy is normal—and it will pass.
Your body is used to getting nicotine. When it stops getting it, things can get unpleasant fast. Withdrawal symptoms usually last about 2 weeks but are worst in the first 3 days.

Tip 2: Delay the urge to smoke.
The urge to smoke doesn’t last long—usually just 3–5 minutes. So if you can distract yourself for a couple of minutes, the craving will pass. If you feel the urge to smoke, you can:

  • Drink water (carry a water bottle with you)
  • Brush your teeth
  • Take a walk (even if it’s just around your office building)
  • Call or text someone who can offer support
  • Chew on something (carrots, apples, sugar-free gum, toothpicks)
  • Repeat your top reason for quitting like a mantra
  • Read, play a video game, check your email, browse online

Tip 3: Get someone to check in with you daily.
Quitting is tough, so try not to do it alone. A good friend can help get you through this. Ask one of your supporters to call, message, visit, or text you each day.

Tip 4: Don’t sabotage yourself.
It’s hard enough to make it through the first 2 weeks of quitting. Avoid making it harder. Here is our list of “dos” and “don’ts.”

  • Don’t hang out with people who may smoke around you until you’re over the hump.
  • Do avoid negative self-talk. Avoid thinking “this is too hard.” Instead, tell yourself you can do it. Remind yourself you can succeed.
  • Do try to change up your regular routine—a lot of it may be tied up with smoking.
  • Don’t drink alcohol right now. Alcohol can make it easier to slip.