If you've just stopped smoking or are getting ready to stop, you're probably wondering how you're going to feel after stopping smoking. What physical changes can you expect? Will you be climbing the walls? When will you start to feel like you're really really stopped? You will go through some changes and it helps to know what to expect so you can deal with it when it happens.
Immediately after you quit, actually within 20 minutes, your body starts to heal itself. Your pulse will lower, your blood pressure will drop a little bit and your circulation will increase. Ever notice that you have really cold hands and feet in the winter? Its because smoking decreases your circulation.
Nicotine withdrawal typically begins 4 hours after your last cigarette and will peak in the first 24 to 48 hours. The severity will depend on if you're using nicotine replacement or a stop smoking pill or another stop smoking aid. Some of the effects you might feel are lightheadedness, dry mouth, insomnia, inability to concentrate, headache, cough.
These symptoms will be the worst in the first couple of days and then begin to taper off. Most people make it over this first hurdle because they have their commitment to quit smoking fresh in their mind.
The nicotine withdrawal symptoms should be gone within 3 weeks. You will still mentally crave a cigarette and unfortunately this is when many people relapse and light up to have "just one". Smoking that one cigarette will send you back to the beginning. One puff or one pack you'll have to go through the nicotine withdrawal all over again.
It will take 6 to 8 weeks before you start to feel like a nonsmoker. It takes time to establish new habits and that's what you're doing, starting a new habit of not smoking. Think of it as replacing one habit with the other.
As to feeling as if you've really quit? It depends on the person. I quit once for over a year and then went back when I was in a very stressful situation. Now I've been smoke free for nearly 4 years. It probably took me about 6 months this time to really feel like a nonsmoker and know that I was not going back.
What you're going to experience after stopping smoking is going to vary from person to person depending on what smoking cessation therapy you're using, how you cope with stress, how your body reacts, etc. I can not give you a carved in stone example of how you're going to feel, but these are some general guidelines of what you can expect to feel after quitting cigarettes.