These are the steps I went through to stop smoking. It’s only been five days but supposedly the first three are the worst. I agree. Here’s the plan:
Forget: This is key. It helps if you’re naturally a space cadet and just don’t remember to smoke one day.
Realization: The need for a smoke after every meal or cup of coffee can’t be as important as you thought. If you can go a day without, you can give it up. It’s essential not to think of it as “quitting” but simply stopping or taking a break, especially if you have slight commitment issues.
Tweaking: The second day isn’t nearly as horrendous as the third but it’s pretty bad. You’ll walk through clouds of cigarette smoke, get asked to join a smoke break, and probably catch hell from every person you work with. You may end up at your desk rocking back and forth neurotically in your chair, desperately Googling “reasons to quit smoking.” None of them seem convincing enough. But you must stay true to your decision.
Anxiety: This is brought on by the tweaking. During the third and fourth day your nicotine addiction sends out signals to your nerves in one last attempt to screw you over. Everything that’s usually a minor annoyance becomes a catastrophe. The phone at work sounds 50 times louder. You want food all the time. At least once you think your boss is going to fire you, your SO is going to break up with you, and the world is going to come to a crashing halt. Just when you can’t possibly believe all this apprehension can be accredited to cigarette withdrawal, a light shines through the clouds of (metaphoric) smoke and finally you feel relaxed.
Relief: All at once you notice that while your mind has been restlessly freaking out, good things have been happening to your body. The color in your face and gums is more consistent, deep breaths don’t feel like a chore. Food tastes incredible, which is good because due to your waning oral fixation you want a lot of it. Gum is recommended but nicotine gum tastes like salt and pepper. Stick to something you like. I was an avid runner before I was an avid smoker. Today I went for a run, and though it wasn’t near the distance I used to do it made me feel better than a cigarette could’ve. It’s only been five days but after how miserable they’ve been it’d be worth going a few more.
—Follow Sarah Grace McCarthy on Twitter: @birdy_grace