For most people who are quitting smoking, cravings or urges to smoke can be powerful. However, you don’t need to be at the mercy of these cravings. When an urge to smoke strikes, remember that although it may be intense, it will likely pass within a few minutes whether you smoke or not. Each time you resist, you’re one step closer to stopping smoking for good.
Preparing to Quit
Think about and list why you want to quit and all you will gain by quitting. Read this when you need a motivation boost. The more the reasons are intrinsic (internal/personal to you), rather than extrinsic (external/someone else’s wishes), the more likely that your quit will be sustainable.
Tell family and friends that you are quitting smoking and ask for their support.
Think of the ways that you can change your normal routine.
List new hobbies that you will work on or interests that you will take part in after quitting.
Stock up on supplies to keep your hands and mouth occupied. (Gum, hard candy, bands, stress ball, putty)
Remove all tobacco items from your home, car, or office (including lighters, ashtrays, and anything else associated with smoking).
Drink lots of water and get some exercise.
Tell yourself you can do it!
Use meditation, prayer, or affirmations to get yourself in a positive frame of mind.
Work out, in advance, what you will do in the moment if you are triggered to smoke.
Here are ten ways to help you resist the urge to smoke, no matter where you are:
1. Delay – If you feel like you’re going to give in to your craving, tell yourself that you must first wait 10 more minutes and then do something to distract yourself. This simple trick may be enough to derail your craving.
2. Don’t have ‘just one’ – You might be tempted but don’t fool yourself. Often, having ‘just one’ leads to another, then another – and you may end up smoking regularly again.
3. Avoid triggers – Urges to smoke are likely to be strongest in the situations where you smoked most often – in the car or while watching television. Identify your trigger situations and have a plan in place. Don’t set yourself up for a relapse. If you usually smoked while you talked on the phone, for instance, keep a pen and paper nearby to occupy yourself with doodling rather than smoking.
4. Get physical – Physical activity can help distract you from cravings and reduce their intensity. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity can make a craving go away. Get out for a walk or jog. If you’re stuck at home or the office, try squats, deep knee bends, running on the spot, or walking up and down a set of stairs a few times. If physical activity doesn’t interest you, try needlework, woodwork, colouring or journaling. Or do chores for distraction, such as vacuuming or filing paperwork.
5. Practice relaxation techniques – In the past, smoking may have been your way to deal with stress. Trying to resist a craving can itself be stressful. Take the edge off stress by practicing relaxation techniques. These include deep-breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, yoga, visualisation, hypnosis, and massage.
6. Get support – Tell someone supportive about your quit. Chat on the phone, go for a walk together, or simply share a few laughs.
7. Remember the benefits of quitting – Write down or say out loud the reasons you want to stop smoking. These might include feeling better, getting healthier, sparing your loved ones from second-hand smoke, recovering your sense of smell and taste or saving money.
8. Go online/USE AN APP – Join an online stop-smoking program. Or read a quitter’s blog and post encouraging thoughts for someone else who might be struggling with tobacco cravings. Learn from how others have handled their tobacco cravings. Download a helpful App such as SF28.
9. Keep using your medication – Whether you are using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion (Zyban), or varenicline (Champix), this will help you to become smoke free. Use as directed for best results.
10. Chew on it – Give your mouth something else to do. Chew on sugarless gum or sugar free sweets. Other options could be raw carrots, celery, nuts, or sunflower seeds – something crunchy and satisfying. Remember, trying something to beat the urge is always better than doing nothing. And each time you resist a craving, you’re one step closer to being totally smoke free.
Remind yourself how important this day is. You are walking through a door and on the other side is a new you – one who is no longer a smoker!
You now have no need for any cigarettes whatsoever so clear out any cigarettes or tobacco you have left so there is no temptation. Non-smokers also don’t need ash trays or lighters – just discard anything you find related to cigarettes and smoking.
Plan some activities for evenings and non-work days to keep you occupied and distracted. Cleaning the house or garage or doing the laundry will all keep you busy. Treat yourself to a film or a day trip, cook a nice dinner from scratch, or go for a run. Managing your triggers will get easier over time if you stick with it.
Review your reasons for quitting first thing in the morning or throughout the day.
Remember that just one puff can get you back to being a smoker! You decided you wanted to quit – now is your time to shine!
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