Why You Need to Reward Yourself
Rewarding yourself as you progress through your quit smoking plan is a great idea.
When you smoke, the nicotine in tobacco enables brain chemicals to activate the ‘reward centre’ in your brain, which gives you a sense of enjoyment (smoking feels ‘rewarding’). Over time, regular smoking causes adaptive changes in the brain, so smokers also end up needing nicotine to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
At the same time, other more natural rewards often don’t feel as good as smoking.
You might feel like you’re missing out as a non-smoker
When you first start your quit smoking journey, you might feel as though you’ll never get the same level of enjoyment from your usual activities as a non-smoker, or that other activities will never be as enjoyable as smoking.
If you feel as though you are ‘missing out’, you’re not alone – evidence shows this feeling is real for many smokers when they first quit.
Change the reward, change your brain
But here’s the trick – you need to find other ways to reward yourself, so you can change the way your brain experiences and remembers ‘reward’.
Over the first few weeks of quitting, your brain goes through a lot of changes as it adapts to not having nicotine. One of these is the lack of the natural feel-good chemical, dopamine, being released – this can make you feel miserable and moody.
What can you do to give yourself a natural mood-lifting reward, so your brain now learns that ‘reward’ is associated with something other than smoking?
Ways to reward yourself when you quit smoking
Trying to come up with ideas to treat yourself once you’ve quit smoking? Check out this list of fun and simple activities that won’t break the bank!
- Eat your favourite food
- Watch a movie
- Play a video game
- Book a massage
- Do some fun exercise
- Listen to music
- Have a warm bath
- Go for a walk
- Read a book or magazine
- Have a lie-in
Or, you could treat yourself with all the money you’re saving from not buying cigarettes! Why not go on a shopping spree or book an experience you’ve always wanted to try?
For more tricks to keep on track, check out Change Your Routine