How Daily Rewards Can Help You Quit Smoking for Good

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The early days of smoking cessation involve quite a bit of work. Nicotine withdrawal and the associations you have between cigarettes and the activities in your life can be all-consuming.

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.

Early on, it's important to celebrate each day you remain smoke-free. Doing this provides a range of benefits on top of positive reinforcement. Let's take a closer look at what the right rewards can do for you.

Provide Positive Feedback

It takes 10 to 20 seconds for nicotine to reach the brain. Once there, it triggers the release of dopamine. Dopamine is one of the "feel good" chemicals in the brain that allow you to feel pleasure and satisfaction. Researchers believe that this chemical reaction is why some drugs are addictive.

Over time, you come to expect this little "feel good" hit numerous times a day. It's called instant gratification, and when you quit smoking, you miss it. Giving yourself a small daily reward helps to relieve some of those pleasure hits you miss. 

While it's not an instant reward we're receiving multiple times a day, daily rewards give you consistent positive feedback. It's also training you to wait for rewards in a gradual way.

Reduce Stress

Contrary to popular belief, research shows that quitting tobacco improves mental health. Specifically, studies have shown that those who quit smoking experience a drop in stress, anxiety, and depression compared with those who continue to light up. 

But unpleasant nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and depression can mask these improvements. Although temporary, these symptoms can make quitting even more difficult.

Apart from the physical side of nicotine addiction, you also have to deal with the psychological side. For years, smoking was ingrained as part of your daily ritual. Learning to navigate the day without smoke breaks can be hard.

At the end of each smoke-free day, choose rewards that help release the stress of the day and recharge your batteries. 

  • Do some fun exercise.
  • Get a massage.
  • Go on a leisurely walk or hike.
  • Take a long bath.

Activities like this can work wonders for rejuvenating body, mind, and soul.

Motivate You to Stick With It

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. As the angst of nicotine withdrawal fades away, you'll become stronger and even more motivated to make the change a permanent one.

Make You Wealthier

Speaking of rewards, let's not forget the money saved when you quit smoking. The cost of a pack of cigarettes (about 20 cigarettes) in the United States is, on average, $6.28. If you smoke a pack a day, you could be saving about $188 per month or $2,292 per year on smoking costs if you quit.

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.

A Word From Verywell

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.

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  4. Smokefree.gov. How much will you save?