I Need Help Focusing As I Try to Quit Smoking

Whenever I try to quit smoking, I get jittery and lose my focus. Any suggestions?

Question:
Elizabeth Ricanati, M.D.
ABOUT THE EXPERT

Elizabeth Ricanati, M.D.

Elizabeth Ricanati, M.D., is the founding medical director of Lifestyle 180, an innovative Cleveland Clinic program aimed at treating and... Read more

Congratulations! Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall wellness. By quitting smoking, you will soon notice that you can walk up a flight of stairs without stopping to catch your breath. Your heart will stop racing every time you try to exert yourself. You will add years to your life.  

However, quitting smoking can be a daunting task for anyone. It often takes up to seven times to quit successfully. There are many techniques to help you quit: nicotine patches, acupuncture, prescription medication and behavior modification. Choose the method that works best for you.  

Quitting can be further complicated when you experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine is addictive, so when you quit, you’re going to experience cravings. This may lead you to feel restless, irritable or depressed. To help keep these bothersome symptoms away, try some of the following tactics:

  • Find another activity to keep your hands busy, such as knitting.
  • If you miss having something in your mouth, chew gum.
  • If you’re tapping your feet, drumming the table and generally feeling jittery while sitting, get up, walk around or better yet, go for a workout.
  • And most of all, don’t forget to breathe. Stop. Take a breath, and continue to breathe deeply.
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