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Got a question about quitting smoking? Quitline answers the big 4 questions from smokers

It's common to worry about how you'll cope with the process of quitting or what you'll do with the extra time quitting affords. We asked our Quitline counsellors to answer some of the common questions about quitting:

Q. How will I cope with stress if I can't smoke?

A. Many people who smoke connect their smoking habit with stress relief and relaxation, but what is it that smoking actually provides? Is it solitude? ‘Me’ time? Downtime? A reward?

Understanding this can help you craft stress relief strategies that take the place of smoking, that provide you with that ‘me’ time, reward or solitude: organising a part of your house or desk, reading a magazine, strumming the guitar, playing a game, listening to a favourite song, meditating, mindful breathing, stretching or calling a friend for a quick chat.

Remember, withdrawal and cravings make most people feel uncomfortable and frustrated, sometimes even anxious. For a while it might feel that nothing else is going to work to relieve stress. Just do your best and persevere. 

TIP: Withdrawal can affect your brain’s functioning and cause you to be less creative or motivated. Don’t give in to those thoughts. Those thoughts are not you, it’s the withdrawal talking. Reframe it as an opportunity rather than a chore; an opportunity to learn about yourself.

Q. What'll I do with my time?

A. Stopping smoking often means having a lot more time on your hands and many people worry about what they’ll do with that extra time. It can be hard to think creatively about interesting things to do while you’re in the process of quitting, so before you quit, think about activities you can lose yourself in, where you don’t ‘watch the clock’. 

TIP: Generally, cravings only last 5–15 minutes if you distract yourself when they arise. Acknowledge the craving is happening, and know it’ll pass. Before you quit, make a list of things you can do to distract yourself. Simple tasks are helpful to avoid frustration or being overwhelmed, which many people are vulnerable to when in the process of quitting. The key is to keep yourself busy but be kind to yourself by keeping things simple.

Q. I'm scared of withdrawal. I get cranky when I can't smoke.

That is very normal. Many people do become emotional when they’re quitting and they can feel less inclined to quit because they don’t want to put themselves, or others, through that experience. Sometimes the cause is solely the withdrawal and other times it's a combination of withdrawal and life events. If you’ve tried to quit before and you’ve gotten angry or sad, now you know what might come up. The good news is that nicotine replacement therapy (like patches and mouth spray) can help combat the physical withdrawal symptoms while Quitline can help deal with the emotional side of things.  You’re not alone. Talking to a counsellor or support person is often one of the most effective ways to manage the emotional side of quitting.

TIP: Chatting to a Quitline counsellor can be one of the best ways to deal with the emotions that surface during quitting because Quitline counsellors understand the issues that can arise specifically in the context of quitting smoking. Chatting to someone on Quitline is free and easy. Simply call 13 7848 or SMS 'call back' to the same number.

But I like smoking ...

Many people are in "two minds" about quitting but ultimately decide to do it because they want to enjoy the benefits that come with giving up smoking:

  • better health and well-being
  • seeing their children grow up
  • financial freedom
  • freedom from fear of smoking-related illness
  • freedom from an addictive substance.
Most people find they get so many benefits from quitting, they come to realise their addiction to smoking was blocking them from realising what was waiting for them.

TIP: Think about what you might gain from living a smoke-free life. Most people find that the things they gain are far better than the loss of their smoking habit – things like better health, more money, more time to spend with loved ones, more energy, to name a few.
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