Stress, feeling down and cravings
This page talks about the feelings you might get when you stop smoking such as stress, feeling down, and getting nicotine cravings. These feelings don't happen to everyone but if it happens to you remember that this is normal and it will go away once you get used to being smokefree.
You may sometimes get strong cravings to smoke – even years after quitting. This is normal and doesn't mean you are failing. These feelings may happen when you meet up with old smoking buddies or when you visit an old smoking situation.
If you experience cravings, remember the 4Ds
Delay acting on the urge to smoke. Don't open a pack or light a cigarette. After a few minutes, the urge to smoke will pass.
Deep breathe – take a long slow breath in, and breathe out slowly again. Repeat three times.
Drink water – sip it slowly, holding it in your mouth a little longer to savour the taste.
Do something else – take your mind off smoking by taking action – put on some music, go for a walk, ring a friend and keep your hands busy.
A lot of people feel anxious and panicky about life without cigarettes. You might have been in the habit of lighting up at stressful times, such as when you're stuck in traffic, or things have gone wrong for you, or when you've had an argument. You might have smoked when you were bored, or to give yourself 'time out'.
When you quit, you need to find new ways to deal with stress, habits and emotions. The good news is there are lots of ways to do this.
If you're feeling stressed you might like to try:
- Talking to someone close to you – perhaps an ex-smoker
- Listening to music
- Squeezing a stress ball
- Saying a karakia, prayer or affirmation
- Screaming, shouting (warn people first!)
- Buying yourself something with some of the money you've saved by not smoking
- Going for a walk
- Reading a good book
- Taking a hot bath
- Playing a game outside with your family
- Reminding yourself of the reasons you want to quit
Sometimes you might feel a little down when you stop smoking. It is normal to feel this way because having a smoke helped you cope with tough situations. Now that you don't have cigarettes you need to find different (and better) ways of managing stress. Make sure you make time to reward yourself for being smokefree with your friends and family. You deserve it. Be proud of being able to challenge yourself and continuing to see it through.
If you think that you may be depressed you may want to check out the Ministry of Health's Depression website.
Remember, you don't have to quit smoking alone. We're here to support you with a range of free services.
Don't give up, Quit.
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