Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal and How To Combat Them

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#Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

Irritability

Duration: 2-9 weeks

As the levels of dopamine in the brain begin to balance, the body undergoes a lot of stress due to the acetylcholine neurotransmitter is having a hard time communicating with its receptor, leading to irrational behaviour or outbursts, emotional distress and cravings.

###How to combat it

To combat this, try to find as many opportunities to disconnect and relax as possible, including (but not limited to) warm baths, yoga, and massages. Relaxing the body is a great way to relieve stress correlated with quitting smoking. The buildup of tension in the body makes it harder for your brain to concentrate while dealing with difficult tasks, so allowing yourself to relax can lessen the stress on your body.

Meditation
Meditation helps to ground your thoughts and re-center your mind while dealing with irritability. Taking some time for yourself allows you to recognize your emotions and connect them to the source (http://how-to-meditate.org/breathing-meditations) , giving you time regroup before immersing yourself in mundane or stressful activities.

Breathing exercises can help in reducing the anxiety associated with nicotine withdrawal by slowing the heart to a resting rate. A resting rate can be achieved when the brain and heart receive high levels of oxygen. By concentrating on specific aspects of breathing, you can clear your mind of toxic thoughts and provide the brain with windows of clarity, leaving you feeling more focused and alert. Capitalizing on these moments will replenish your enthusiasm for life, and further your efforts to quit nicotine.

Take a nature walk / jog
Mother Nature provides an endless supply of remedies for symptoms related to withdrawal. Immersing yourself in nature creates positive effects that promote overall health.

For example, an increase in Vitamin D absorbed from sunlight improves body functioning, lowers blood pressure, and boosts the immune system. For those who are in the early stages of withdrawal, these effects can be especially helpful, as the body suffers somewhat of a shock from a lack of nicotine, causing the immune system to be compromised.

Walking or jogging for long distances relieves your mind and body of stress through perspiration while forcing stressful thoughts out the brain. This allows you to self-reflect on your actions and plan future goals for your health, helping you to remain nicotine-free.

Low energy and sleepiness

Duration: 2-9 weeks
Because nicotine is a stimulant similar to caffeine, the first few weeks without it will result in drastic energy fluctuations while your body flushes nicotine from your system.

Taking naps is okay every once in awhile, but it recommended not to give in to every yawn, as withdrawal symptoms and too much rest combined can lead to depression. Try your best to remain in positive, well-lit environments during the day and only rest when needed. Finding excuses to stay in bed isn’t the best tactic for maintaining good mental health in this phase of quitting. Try buying a gym membership, start looking into local events and support groups begin a new routine, revamp your perspective on your health and lifestyle.

###How to combat it

Start a conversation, join a support group, or get a sponsor
When quitting, it is crucial to develop a support system of people and/or platforms where you can seek out advice and opportunities, and be a part of events and social gatherings that aren’t associated to smoking. In the first few months, it is essential to begin disassociating nicotine with activities that used to connect it with. You may also want to engage in activities that you always wanted to experience, but could not when you were smoking or vaping. For instance, walking the dog after work is a perfect scenario to be tempted to vape or smoke again. Try going to dog parks where smoking and vaping is prohibited, walk with non-smokers, or call a friend while walking. Get used to doing daily to chores without nicotine, and use the support of your loved ones you help you through the more difficult times.

Cold symptoms

Duration 1 week-1 month
Smoking cigarettes makes your body susceptible to becoming ill. Much of this is correlated to the respiratory health. When you smoke, the antibodies in the respiratory tract are weakened and have trouble fighting off even common colds.

Although experiencing cold symptoms are never fun, in this case it comes with great benefit symptoms like dry or phlegmy cough and a runny nose is helping your lungs remove the tar and built up residue on your cilia (the brush-like hairs in your lungs that are responsible for cleaning your airway). As your body begins to cleanse itself of nicotine, some of the basic function of the respiratory tract begin to work more effectively. As a result the cilia in the lungs that were once inactive due to the daily build up acquired from smoking are now proactively attempting to remove as much build up as possible resulting in flu like symptoms.

###How to combat it

Herbal Medicine
Normal pharmaceuticals will technically work for cold and flu symptoms, but for individuals who are quitting smoking, the use pharmaceuticals has heavy repercussions on the body, since brain is already under stress because of fluctuating dopamine levels. Some individuals are likely to feel worse after taking over-the-counter medications to treat these symptoms.

Drinks

Grape juice
Detoxifies the blood while boosting the immune system.
Provides a good source of vitamin B & C, and increases overall brain function.

Ginseng
Combats cravings
Stops the transmission of dopamine in the brain, giving the brain a more regulated distribution, creating a feeling of relaxation

Ginger
Helps fight cancer cells
According to Dr.Axe,Studies have shown that the incorporation of ginger into your everyday diet can help with cold symptoms

Vitamin A, C, & E
Detoxifies and rejuvenates the body

Cravings

Duration: 4 weeks-1 year
When you experience cravings, one of the best ways to cope is going to a place where smoking is prohibited, such as indoor sporting events, restaurants, malls, and movie theatres. Another strategy is to keep your hands and mouth preoccupied by taking up a high-energy sport like tennis, doodling, buying a fidget cube or spinner, chewing gum, chewing on carrots, or doing crossword puzzles. These activities will keep your hands and mouth busy in moments when cravings may seem to be unbearable.

###How to combat it

E-cigarettes
Using a harm reduction devices like an e-cigarette is a great way to get as close to smoking as possible without the harmful chemicals (or nicotine if you so choose). Using an e-cig with zero nicotine allows you to mimic the experience of smoking through the senses, with flavours that smell and taste like tobacco, and vapor that simulates a throat hit similar to that of a tobacco cigarette.

The key tactic to successfully breaking a nicotine habit is finding an activity that helps you to forget about smoking by preoccupying enough of your time, mental space, and body that you physically can’t smoke or vape. Of course, quitting will be a challenge and will take a lot of willpower to stick with, even when it becomes hard to take. Make yourself aware of your surroundings and the symptoms that you’re experiencing. Acknowledge and accept your emotions, but take the time to think before you act on them. Distress your mind and body. Make an effort to build healthy relationships and reach out to positive people who will actively take part in your journey. And most importantly, before you make the attempt to quit, be sure that you’re ready to face and accept the changes to come.

If you are not yet nicotine free read the article How to conquer your nicotine cravings for some insight on how to make the first steps towards becoming nicotine-free.

For more information on nicotine cravings, see my article below.


How Do I Conquer My Nicotine Cravings?