Dealing with Strong Feelings

If you’ve tried to quit tobacco in the past, you may have experienced some strong feelings like frustration, anger, sadness, regret, and fear. Perhaps you found it difficult to sleep, focus on your work, or get along with other people because of these feelings - making it much harder to stick with your plan to quit.

These strong feelings can be tough to cope with, but don’t worry, they are common for people quitting tobacco. Strong feelings come and go throughout the day and if you know how, you can deal with them in the moment and turn them into something more positive.

Let’s think about why you might have strong feelings after quitting tobacco. Even after all the nicotine leaves your body (usually within 48 hours), you might experience strong feelings several weeks, months, and years later. You may be drinking coffee, trying to meet a work deadline, or just watching TV and suddenly you have a strong feeling that is related to not using tobacco. Why might this happen?

The answer depends on how you personally used tobacco. Did you use it to relieve stress and calm yourself down when you were feeling angry, frustrated or anxious? If so, your body and mind may be searching for another way to manage these feelings. Think about what you can do instead of using tobacco. Make sure it is something that’s fun, exciting, and rewarding.

Frank, a participant in this program, found a great solution.

When Frank quit tobacco, he was no fun to be around. He was sad all the time and became angry over trivial things. He told us that he really wanted a smoke during these times, so one day he decided to try something different. When he started to feel angry, he went to the gym and hit a racquetball against the wall as hard as he could. He couldn’t believe how quickly it took away his anger and desire to smoke! From that day forward, Frank packed his racquet in his backpack and played each day. Can you think of something like this that could work for you?

Don’t ignore your strong feelings – they are telling you something! Just like Frank, you too can turn your strong feelings into something fun and rewarding - and stay quit for life.