“How Can I Deal with Mental Obsession when Quitting Smoking?”
Quitting smoking can be absolutely horrific….and people will tell you that the excruciating withdrawal is mostly psychological, despite the strong chemical addiction to nicotine. Yes, our bodies do become physically dependent on nicotine. In spite of this, it’s amazing to notice all of the triggers when you are in the midst of quitting smoking; everything you did throughout your day seemed to be somehow linked to smoking.
Take any random activity–such as eating a meal or riding in a car–and chances are good that you either smoked before, during, or after that activity….every single time. Smoking wasn’t just a generalized habit; it was a specific set of rituals ingrained into your daily routine. The psychological triggers when you quit smoking are going to be linked to these activities. You have to make it through each activity a couple of times–like riding in the car, for example–before you can finally start making it through without craving a cigarette.
When I quit smoking, I used this information to my advantage, and took note of when I got a massive urge to smoke and noticed exactly what it was that I was doing. For example, after finishing a large meal, I would really want a cigarette quite badly. I noticed this a lot, after every meal, and paid special attention to it. Increasing my awareness of this trigger was helpful, and I found ways to overcome it (for this particular trigger, I focused on eating meals more slowly, so as not to overeat, and I also replaced the after-meal cigarette with a toothpick).
In the first few weeks of quitting, there is a fine line between obsessing over the fact that you are not smoking, and consciously raising your awareness of triggers so that you can lessen their impact. The key is all in your attitude towards it–you are going to have triggers….lots of them. Let them come, take note of them, and see that they have no power over you. Conquer your triggers and feel positive when you make it through your urges without smoking. Say to yourself, “See, I just made it through another meal without smoking afterwards. It’s getting easier each time.”
Remind yourself: each activity you make it through without smoking is another victory. Give yourself credit. It takes time to reprogram your mind.Remember not to get angry and emotional when you get an urge to smoke. At first, everything seems to be a trigger. Breathe deep and make it through to the next one. Very soon the urges will get less and less frequent, and you will realize that it is in fact getting better.
Remember that the urges are necessary to go through, and that they are temporary. Freedom is just around the corner. Breathe deep and let the urge wash over you.Here is another excellent tip. Get a stopwatch and put it in your pocket. When you get an urge, take the stopwatch out and start the timer. Let the stopwatch run and try to go back to what you were doing. At some point you will notice that the urge to smoke has temporarily ceased. Look at the stopwatch. You will absolutely be amazed at how short your urges are by doing this. Time distortion is a real symptom of nicotine withdrawal, and it makes it seem like our urges go on forever and ever. The stopwatch trick can help put this into perspective. Try it!
For some people these techniques might ultimately prove to be insufficient and for those of you out there like this I would recommend that you look into a quit smoking prescription to assist you in your efforts. There are some medications out there that really seem to help a few of the ex smokers that I know!