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Real Talk: This Is What Happens When You Quit Smoking

Man refusing a cigarette from a pack of smokes concept for quitting smoking and healthy lifestyleRaise your hand if the fear of what you’ll experience when you quit smoking is what is keeping you from putting out your last cigarette. If your hand is raised, you’re not alone. Thoughts of persistent cravings, sickening side effects, and being surrounded by temptations keep a significant number of smokers lighting up day after day.

Let’s end the cycle.

We’re about to lay out what really happens when you quit smoking so that you can be prepared to tackle the realities of your new smoke-free lifestyle head-on and with confidence.

In the first 20 Minutes as a Non-Smoker

It only takes twenty minutes of smoke-free living for your body to begin the healing process. Twenty minutes after your last cigarette, your heartbeat and blood pressure return to normal levels. The tiny fibers that line your bronchial tubes will also resume movement, helping clear your lungs of irritants and helping you breathe more easily.

After Eight Hours as a Non-Smoker

In less than half a day, your carbon monoxide levels will improve significantly, which boosts your oxygen levels so that your body can better nourish blood vessels and tissues.

After One Day as a Non-Smoker

Just one smoke-free day results in less vein and artery restriction and improved oxygen levels, which, in turn, reduces your risk of a heart attack. The level of nicotine in your blood will also nearly dissipate after day one.

After Two Days as a Non-Smoker

At this point in your recovery, your body will begin to regrow formerly damaged nerve endings, and you’ll start to experience senses that were previously being dulled from cigarettes. This means that the world around you will literally smell and taste better.

After Three Days as a Non-Smoker

You will start breathing more easily after three smoke-free days as your bronchial tubes begin to open up. From day three to five, you may also experience the most severe withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, cravings, and insomnia. Talk to a friend or support group who can empathize with your discomfort, but don’t give up your commitment to becoming smoke-free.

After One Week as a Non-Smoker

Seven days marks a critical milestone in the battle for remaining smoke-free. People who last one week without smoking are nine times more likely to stay smoke-free. Celebrate your accomplishment by adopting a healthy habit, like adding an evening walk to your routine, signing up for an art class, or volunteering in your community.

After One Month as a Non-Smoker

During your first smoke-free month, you may often feel constipated. Despite this unpleasant symptom, get ready, because your energy levels are about to go through the roof. You may also notice a reduction in smoking-related symptoms such as shortness of breath and sinus congestion. You will also experience a decrease in any withdrawal-related anxiety after a few smoke-free weeks.

After Six Months as a Non-Smoker

Make it to six months (and you will), and you’ll no longer want to reach for a pack of cigarettes whenever life gets tough. You’ll also be coughing up less phlegm because your previously inflamed airways will no longer be exposed to the chemicals found in cigarettes.

After One Smoke-Free Year

Consider yourself transformed. Your lungs will achieve dramatic improvement after a year, and you’ll experience a level of health and wellness you may have thought wasn’t possible. Congratulate yourself because while quitting may not have been simple, it may just be the single most crucial health-related decision you’ll make in your life, and you’ve got a lot of life left to live.