How Daily Rewards Can Help You Quit Smoking for Good

Man reading book

Morsa Images / Digital Vision / Getty Images

For most of us, the early days of smoking cessation involve quite a bit of work. Nicotine withdrawal and the associations we have between the activities in our lives and cigarettes can be consuming. Thoughts of smoking are incessant and uncomfortable.

We wonder if we'll ever be free of the urge to smoke or doomed to be forever enslaved to nicotine addiction. While this phase of recovery is challenging, the good news is that the discomforts are all temporary. Better days are ahead, as long as you find ways to manage nicotine withdrawal successfully.

As smokers, we all know how big a deal it is to not smoke for an entire day. So, early on, it's important to celebrate each and every smoke-free day we complete. Doing this achieves more than positive reinforcement, although that certainly plays a part. Let's take a closer look.

Life is hectic enough as it is without the additional tension that smoking cessation throws into the mix. Daily rewards help us in a few important ways.

Daily Rewards Can Reduce Stress

While it's true that smoking cessation will eventually help us to live a less stressed life, initially, quitting tobacco tends to increase stress. Learning to navigate the day without smoke breaks is hard.

We have leaned on cigarettes for everything from waking up in the morning to relaxing after a meal and dealing with anger. Now we have to learn to manage the activities in our lives without smoking, and we feel the tension that creates.

At the end of each smoke-free day, choose rewards that help release the stress of the day and recharge your batteries for the day ahead. Think time alone with a good book and a cup of tea, devoting an hour to a favorite hobby, a long soaking bath or going for a walk on the beach with the dog. Activities like this can work wonders for rejuvenating body, mind, and soul.

Daily Rewards Provide a Replacement for the Instant Reward of Nicotine

Smoking gives us an instant hit of nicotine, causing a release of dopamine in our brains. Dopamine makes us feel good, and researchers believe that it's this chemical reaction is why some drugs are addictive.

Over time, we come to expect this little 'feel good' hit numerous times a day. It's called instant gratification, and when we quit, we miss it. Giving ourselves a small daily reward helps to relieve some of those pleasure hits we miss. While it's not an instant reward we're receiving multiple times a day, it does give us positive feedback on a daily basis. It's also training us to wait for rewards in a gradual way.

Daily Rewards Motivate Us

We all need to hear that we're doing well and that the task we're working so hard to accomplish is worth it. It inspires us to keep going until we've overcome the temptation to smoke. For most of us, that takes a year of smoke-free living, but don't worry. The angst of nicotine withdrawal fades and with every passing month, we are stronger and more motivated to make the change a permanent one.

Healthier ... Wealthier, Too

Speaking of rewards, let's not forget the money saved when we quit smoking. With cigarette prices reaching upwards of $10 to $15 per pack here in the United States, the money adds up quickly.

Why not collect the cash you would have spent on cigarettes in a jar and use it every so often to reward yourself with something special? Monthly smoke-free milestones are a great time to splurge on yourself. Save up for a trip or some other luxury when you reach a year smoke-free.

Think about it: a pack a day smoker will save $ 3650 in one year at $10 per pack. You deserve to have tangible rewards that were purchased with cigarette money—and think what powerful motivators they are.

Final Thoughts

Make a list of simple rewards that you can use to help motivate you, along with some ideas for special rewards for bigger non-smoking milestones.

Feed your health and well-being with a daily reward that has meaning for you, and keep your quit program at the top of your priority list for as long as it takes. It's worth the work, and easier to accomplish with a few well-deserved rewards sprinkled in along the way.

Was this page helpful?