After you quit
There’s life after smoking
You’re officially a non-smoker — congratulations! You’ll start feeling better and better every day.
As you read this, your body is probably already starting to heal from the damage caused by the smokes. The next few days may feel weird, but don’t be discouraged. Here’s what you can expect to be happening to your body in the hours, months and years:
After 20 minutes:
Your blood pressure drops to a level similar to what it was before your last cigarette.
After 8 hours:
The level of carbon monoxide (a toxic gas) in your blood drops to normal. There is likely more oxygen in your system and your blood pressure is probably going down.
After 1 day:
Your risk of having a heart attack starts to drop.
After 2 weeks:
The airways in your lungs relax and you can get more air into your lungs and breathe easier.
After 1 month:
You should be coughing less and your lungs should be working even better.
After 1 year:
Your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of an average smoker.
After 5 years:
You have the same chance of having a stroke as a non-smoker.
After 10 years:
Your chance of dying from lung cancer is much lower. So is your chance of getting cancer in your mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas.
After 15 years:
Your risk of coronary heart disease is similar to that of a non-smoker.
Now that you’ve quit, you’re faced with another challenge: staying smoke-free. Like quitting, this will take some planning and commitment. But considering the effort you’ve already made, it’s pretty safe to say you can do it.
No matter how dedicated you are, some days may still be harder than others. Here are some tips for not slipping up, no matter what life throws your way:
Identify your patterns and triggers
When you smoked, you developed certain patterns, like smoking more when you were drinking, or after getting off work. You probably repeated these patterns so many times that it just became automatic to reach for a cigarette when those situations came up.
To stay a non-smoker, you’ll need to reverse this training. Be mindful of situations where you’ll want to smoke more than usual. And if you need to avoid a situation or substitute one behaviour with another until you feel more confident in getting through smoke-free, that’s totally fine, too.
It’s totally normal to still crave a cigarette every now and then. The easiest way to overcome that is to avoid the temptation in the first place. For example:
- Hang out in places where you don’t usually smoke
- Find hobbies you don’t associate with smoking
- Let your friends know if it’s hard to be around when they’re smoking
Handle your stress
Many ex-smokers say that the more stressed out they get, the more they’re tempted to pick up a cigarette. When you feel the pressure in your life starting to build, take a few minutes to step away from the situation. Do whatever you have to do to keep your mind off smoking. There are healthier ways to deal with stress.
Sometimes the best solution is to avoid unnecessary stress in the first place. No stress, no cigarette.
Change the situation to make it less stressful. Ask someone for help when things are too difficult.
Not all problems have solutions. Remind yourself it’s not the end of the world and try to find a positive.
Celebrate your quitting anniversary
Quitting smoking is no easy task — you’ve earned a celebration! Mark the day you quit and treat yourself on the weekly and monthly anniversaries of your quit date for the first few months.
When you’re six months smoke-free, use some of the money you’ve saved not buying cigarettes and get yourself something you’ve always wanted! Keep celebrating your success from time to time, like yearly anniversaries of your quit date or when you make it through a major stressor without a cigarette.