There are three tasks of quitting: to make a quit attempt; to manage withdrawal and daily cravings; and to become truly comfortable as a nonsmoker living a smokefree lifestyle.
After around a month or so most smokers report that they rarely get strong cravings, instead they experience occasional fleeting thoughts of smoking. At this point it’s time to really embrace thinking and feeling like a nonsmoker.
A non-smoker is someone who sees no real use for cigarettes in their life. If you can find that you’re enjoying life more and managing better than when you were smoking, and can’t think of any situation where you’d be better off reaching for a cigarette, then it’s unlikely you’ll ever go back to smoking.
Over time you’ll no longer miss cigarettes if you can find other ways of meeting the needs cigarettes met for you. To get this far it’s likely you’ve already tried different ways of managing stress, socialising, taking time out, rewarding yourself and managing weight.
Revive an old hobby or interest now that they have more time and money. Or take up something that you’ve always wanted to: learn a musical instrument, a new language, take art classes, do a short course, start a blog, investigate your family history, start a new sport or other hobby. Find something you really enjoy as it will help you to relax and take time out.
Occasionally it may not be possible to find a replacement for smoking. Dwelling on how much you miss smoking will bring on cravings in much the same way as thinking about food can make you hungry. Challenge those memories of smoking. Were all the cigarettes you smoked that good? What about the hassles of smoking that you’re now free of?
Does quitting feel like losing a friend? Challenge just how good a friend it really was. Remember the many health, financial and social benefits of being a non-smoker.
Keep reminding yourself, as you put more and more distance between the old smoking you and the new nonsmoking you, how far you’ve come and all the benefits you’re enjoying.
It takes time to feel fully comfortable and embrace the new identity of a nonsmoker and to put the habit behind you for good. Give yourself time but remind yourself of all the good reasons you’re doing this and how they’ll keep paying off now and into the future. Tell yourself “I’m a nonsmoker now and I’m proud of myself”.
Because it takes time, you need to be on guard against the occasional urge to smoke. Have your personal emergency plan in place for crises (e.g. having a good friend who you can call day or night). Expect that you might occasionally have momentary thoughts telling you a cigarette would be nice, but tell yourself that it’s just a memory flash, a thought from the past, and nothing you need to act on.