This list has been updated to include a more comprehensive and useful description of withdrawel symptoms and cravings.
I found these helped me so far:
1. Always remember, you are NOT depriving yourself, you are setting yourself free
2. Remember, that if you encounter a stressful situation, smoking will NOT help you resolve it (cigarettes just trick you into thinking that). Don't forget that 'normal' people also encounter stressful situations everyday, and they don't rely on inhaling poisonous smoke to solve them.
3. If you can, go on holiday for your first week of quitting. I kid you not, this has been the single best thing for getting me through the really difficult first bit. There are 2 reasons why this is a great idea: (a.) you will be away from all your normal day-to-day triggers, and (b.) you can deal with your symptoms in the way you find easiest - sleep all day if that's what it takes!
4. Even though the nicotine disappears from your system after 48 hours, remember that the psychological addiction still has PHYSICAL symptoms for quite a long time (it can be weeks) afterwards, and this took me by surprise. Don't forget - Nicotine is as addictive as Heroin, so you are proving a million times over that you are a STRONG person when you quit.
5. The physical symptoms of withdrawel are wide-ranging and in my opinion grossly under-publicised (they are probably written by someone who has never smoked and is scared of putting people off giving-up). The TRUE list of symptoms includes: depression (can be severe, requiring medication), anxiety (can also be severe - scared of going out etc.), knot in your stomach, shakes, migraine, difficulty sleeping OR gross fatigue, pathological loss of concentration, tingling and jittery arms and legs, funny taste in your mouth, really sore throat, coughing up gunk for a prolonged period, hot and cold sweats, extreme irritability and/or anger, tense muscles, disrupted bowel movements, dizziness, significant increase in hunger levels, outbreaks of spots or acne, and that is before we even hit the cravings:
6. Cravings. You are trying to deal with the ongoing saga of withdrawel, and on top of that, you also have cravings to deal with. Cravings are different to withdrawel because they are short-lived but VERY intense periods of longing. This is how they work: a) you encounter a trigger situation e.g. a cup of coffee; b) your head starts SCREAMING for a poisonous puff; c) as if that wasn't enough, your muscles tense, your stomach churns and every nerve starts jangling. People say that a craving never lasts for more than 5 minutes but I think that this is fluff. A proper craving never lasts for more than ONE minute (see! good news). Now you understand the physical process, let's look at the rest:
7. Don't look for the Big Bang, i.e. everything will be ok after Day 5, because it doesn't work like that. Quitting is a gradual battle which is won in hundreds of small steps. And everyday, the battle gets easier and easier.
8. Do learn relaxation techniques. Despite being legal, cigarattes are nasty little bastards, and will mess with your head to try and get you to smoke again. This will lead to anxiety and even downright anger. So: Breathe in really deeply, hold you breath, and exhale slowly and calmly. Do it whenever the monsters are messing with you. Another top tip is walking - get your coat on and take yourself on a walk whenever you feel bad. This is a double whammy - a. you take your mind of cigarettes; and b. you give yourself an oxygen hit.
9. Do lots of research so you understand the quitting process. Quite often, you get to a point where you are thinking 'I am sure this is never goint to get any easier'. Go onto forums or quit sites and read what other people are going through. They are thinking the same thing - it's not just you feeling weak!
10. Keep a diary or write a blog. Make a note of everything related to your battle to quit smoking. It is amazing the difference between a week 1 diary compared to a week 2 diary etc. Whenever you feeling like you aren't getting anywhere, go and read your diary and wow yourself with how far you have come.
11. Wash everything. Clothes, cushions, sofa covers, curtains. Get rid of the horrible residue that cigarettes have left over everything. It is amazing how nice it is walking into the house when everything has been washed, and smells fresh and clean. Plus it gives you something to keep your hands busy!
12. Give yourself a makeover. You are now a new person - a non-smoker. Capitalise on your new glowing complexion, and have a new hairstyle, get a new outfit, book with the dentist to have your teeth whitened, maybe go and have a massage.
13. Replace cigarettes with chewing gum. Oh and chew vigorously (don't know what that works but it does). Always have a packet on you, and whenever you feel the urge, get out the gum.