Jamwan wrote this in response to NomadicLife's about starting his quit:
"Distract yourself because you will have A LOT of extra time on your hand since you don't smoke anymore."
This is so true and represents one of the challenges we all face when we quit. Filling all that time when we used to smoke. We don't realize this until we quit - all the time smoking took from our daily lives.
Here's a little story about that very subject that new quitters in particular may be able to relate to:
FILLING THE PAGES
A common issue a quitter might talk about since they quit smoking is the fact that there seems to be void in their life now. Now that they're not smoking it feels as if the days have grown longer and they are unsure of how to fill this void in their daily life. This can add stress for the new quitter because this is so unfamiliar to them.
Cigarettes have been so deeply intertwined in their life for so long, that the new quitter is constantly being reminded that they no longer smoke just by living through their normal, everyday activities.
They may ask how do they unwind after work now that they don't smoke? How do they deal with stress, now that they don't smoke? How do they punctuate finishing a task now that they don't smoke?
For the smoker, that cigarette after finishing a task was like putting the period at the end of sentence. Now that they don't smoke, daily tasks can just feel like a long running sentence with no punctuation.
The cigarette was also like the smoker's pause button. If they needed to concentrate on doing something or were under a stressful situation. They would step back, smoke a cigarette and think about how to resolve the problem. Now that they don't smoke, there doesn't seem to be a pause button for the quitter. That magic button that says" Whoa give me a minute" is gone. Now they are just left with the situation and a very unfamiliar way that they now have to deal with it without that old familiar cigarette.
There was a friend of mine who had just quit that was talking about this and it was really stressing her out. She was having a hard time dealing with stress and other everyday scenarios without smoking. She was getting discouraged about her quit and felt that her life was kind of empty since she quit. She felt that there was now a void in her life.
One thing she said that I thought was an interesting way to look at it, was that she said that since she quit smoking, she felt she now had to rewrite her life.
When I heard this, for some reason it reminded me of someone writing a screenplay about the day in the life of a smoker. This is how that written screenplay might sound:
THE DAY IN THE LIFE OF A SMOKER.
(I'm just making this up, but let's just say this is how your typical day when you smoked would look like.)
You wake up. Smoke a cigarette. You get ready for work. Smoke a cigarette. You have breakfast. Smoke a cigarette. You get in your car and drive to work. Smoke a cigarette. You get to work. Smoke a cigarette before going inside. You go to coffee break at work. Smoke a cigarette. You go to lunch. Smoke a cigarette. You go to second break. Smoke a cigarette. Maybe something stressful happens at work. Sneak out and smoke a cigarette. After work, as you drive home, you smoke a cigarette. You get home and unwind. Smoke a cigarette. You cook dinner. Smoke a cigarette. After eating dinner. Smoke a cigarette. Have a glass of wine or beer and of course smoke a cigarette. Watch TV. Smoke a cigarette. Get ready for bed. Smoke a cigarette. Before going to bed. Smoke a cigarette.
Let's say that it took 5 pages to write the story about ‘The Day In The Life Of A Smoker’.
Now that you don't smoke, you're not so much rewriting your daily life but editing out a lot of useless dialog in your smokers screenplay that isn't needed any longer to tell the story.
The problem is that now after all that editing, what use to take 5 pages to tell your story, now only takes 3 pages. Now you have 2 blank pages that you're carrying around with you and you don't know what to do with them. This can cause anxiety. You have been so used to living your daily smokers life as a 5 page day that writing it with only 3 pages feels like there is a void in the story; something’s missing.
But take a look at the dialog that you just edited out and write that down on the 2 blank pages.
Here's what that edited dialog would be: Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. etc, etc.
You can see how useless this dialog is now because it no longer helps to tell your story and on it's own it makes no sense. It's just repetitive blabber.
Now that you’ve quit smoking, you have an amazing opportunity. You can take these two remaining pages and add something to your story. Something that maybe you've wanted to add for sometime now, but just have never done it, because this addiction was taking up those two pages every single day. These two pages are no longer needed to tell the story of your addiction. They are now yours to tell any story of other things you have always wanted to do but never had time for.
It isn't so much that since you quit smoking, that there is a void in your life. It is more like smoking created that void, because it took that time away from you each & every day. That was YOUR time being wasted, it was NOT being filled with anything meaningful. Now that you have freed yourself from cigarettes, don't think of it as leaving a void in your life. Think of it as you taking back the endless possibilities of living life as YOU really want to again.
Also don't think that you need a cigarette to deal with life's stress.
It isn't that you were able to deal with stress better because you smoked. It's just that you've done it for so long that way, that you are having to relearn how to do it without cigarettes. It's new and unfamiliar. Smoking under stress was actually just relieving addiction withdrawal stress which starts every time you extinguish a smoke, but that time you took to go have a smoke when stressed also gave you a minute or two to reflect on what was causing the initial life stress.
If you're under stress at times you used to go smoke a cigarette, what I would suggest is stop; step back and give yourself a moment just like you would do when you smoked, but now breathe deeply, calm yourself and focus on what you need to do to alleviate what is causing the real life stress you’re under. You’ll soon get very used to doing this and it’s actually a lot more productive is resolving you stressful issue than smoking a cigarette! Cigarettes don't deserve the credit for relieving your life stress because they do nothing in that regard.
You should be proud of yourself, because you have taken your pages back. The pages are yours now. Fill them any way you choose!