Live life free of harmful nicotine

With all the warning alarms doing the rounds, we'll take it that you have decided to stop smoking

With all the warning alarms doing the rounds, we'll take it that you have decided to stop smoking

You might feel like you're on a rollercoaster during the first couple of weeks after you quit smoking. You'll have good days and you'll have bad days.

Whether you use a quit-aid of some sort or go cold turkey, you're going to feel a certain amount of withdrawal from nicotine. Some people have more trouble with the first week, and others with the second, but the good news is that for most, the worst of physical withdrawal from nicotine is over within the first two weeks of stopping.

Physically, your body will be reacting to the absence of not only nicotine, but all of the other chemicals in cigarette smoke that you've been inhaling 20 or more times a day for years.

When the supply gets cut off, you can expect to feel the effects of that. Flu-like symptoms are common.

The amount of discomfort you'll experience depends in part on how well you take care of yourself during this phase.

Follow the tips below to help you minimise the discomfort you'll feel as a result of physical and mental withdrawal from nicotine.

Quitting smoking tips for the first two weeks

l Find some support

Having others who are interested in your success is very important. If you check the Internet you might find bloggers going through the same process and this support structure might help ease and share rough experiences.

l Eat a well-balanced diet

Treats are fine, but be careful not to go overboard with the wrong kinds of food. Your body is working hard to expel toxins during the withdrawal process, and that takes energy. Choose foods that will provide you with the high- quality fuel you need. Avoid the empty calories of junk food.

lTake a multi-vitamin pill

Smoking depletes our bodies of nutrients. Give yourself a boost with the help of a multi-vitamin. This, combined with a good diet, will help you minimise the fatigue that can often occur during nicotine withdrawal.

l Stock the fridge with healthy snacks

Have small bags of bite-size fresh veggies within easy reach. Celery and carrot sticks with low fat ranch dressing for dipping make for a good snack. Fresh fruit, such as pineapple chunks, berries, melon or other fruits in season will satisfy your sweet tooth if they're clean and ready to eat when you're looking for a snack. Good freezer treats include low fat fudgesicles and frozen grapes.

l Get out for a walk

A short walk every day can work wonders for you as you withdraw from nicotine. Walking reduces edginess and improves circulation. It also releases endorphins, the "feel good" hormone. So, when the urge to smoke strikes, head out for a walk around the block. You'll come back refreshed and relaxed.

l Get more sleep

Early cessation is tiring. Your body is stressed and so is your mind. Allow more time to sleep if you need it. Don't worry, the weariness won't last. Your energy will return soon.

l Drink water

Water helps you flush residual toxins from smoking out of your body more quickly. It also works well as a craving buster. Drink water before you snack and you'll eat less. Water is an important part of your diet. Keep yourself well-hydrated, and you'll feel better in general. That will in turn help you manage withdrawal symptoms more easily.

l Keep some supplies in your car

If you spend a lot of time driving, have some items handy to help you pass the time more comfortably. Drink some of that water we just talked about while you're driving. Keep a bottle or two in the car at all times. Also store a bag of hard candies and biltong in your car to chew on.

l Do some deep breathing

Cravings usually hit fast and with force. They're strongest at the start, and fade in intensity within 3 to 5 minutes. Don't panic when you get a craving to smoke. Take a few moments to concentrate on your breathing. Close your eyes if possible and breathe in and out slowly. Let the craving wash over you like a wave while you focus on your breathing. The urge will pass and you'll be left feeling stronger.

l Have a cup of tea

Allow yourself a few minutes to relax with a cup of tea and honey. Choose herbal teas rather than those with caffeine. It's a quick and easy way to rejuvenate yourself.

l Reward yourself

Come up with a list of small gifts that you can give yourself every day. Take a hot bath. Buy a new candle. Read a fun magazine. Enlist someone in the family to cook dinner. Small rewards will boost your spirits and fortify your resolve to quit.

Be patient and kind to yourself during the early days of smoking cessation. The rewards will outweigh the discomfort you're going through.

Nicotine withdrawal is a temporary phase. -