Making a plan to work through cravings, 1 month quitting smoking
10 Ways to Outsmart Cigarette Cravings
If you are trying to quit smoking, nicotine addiction is probably your biggest challenge. Nicotine is the chemical that causes cigarette cravings. The longer you smoked (and the more cigarettes you smoked each day) before trying to quit smoking, the worse cigarette cravings you can expect. The good news is that cigarette cravings do get weaker, and every time you find a way to resist them, you get one step closer to permanently quitting smoking.
"Cigarette cravings will happen to smokers whether you smoke or not. That's because smoking is not a habit, it's an addiction," says Eleana M. Conway, NP, a nurse practitioner who helps people stop smoking at the Lahey Clinic's smoking cessation program in Burlington, Mass.
"The worst part of a craving is the first few minutes," explains Conway. "After that, the craving generally goes away in about 20 minutes. In most cases, if you can find a way to get through those first few minutes, you can resist the craving for good.
Activities to Help You Stop Smoking
Since you know you are going to have cigarette cravings, it's best to have a plan. "We teach people the four 'Ds' to overcome cravings: Drink water, deep breathe, delay, and do something," says Conway. Here are some steps to get you through those first minutes of a craving:
- Take some deep breaths.Just stop what you are doing and take about 10 deep breaths. Go outside if you can and think about filling your lungs with fresh air. These deep breaths will relax you and decrease some of the anxiety associated with nicotine withdrawal.
- Drink a glass of water."Drinking water is good for you and seems to have a calming effect on cigarette cravings for many people," says Conway. Avoid drinks like coffee or alcohol that you may have associated with smoking in the past.
- Get some exercise."The average person gains about eight pounds when they are trying to stop smoking. Exercise helps keep the pounds off and also stimulates brain chemicals that fight nicotine cravings," explains Conway.
- Call a friend.Getting support from others is an important part of quitting. Calling a friend can get your mind off smoking. You don't want to be alone when dealing with cigarette cravings if you can help it.
- Go to a movie.Getting out of the house for a few hours and going to a place where smoking is not allowed, like a cinema, theatre, or museum, will keep your mind busy and keep you from temptation.
- Chew a stick of gum."It may be an old wives' tale, but cinnamon gum seems to work for cravings. We recommend chewing a stick of sugarless cinnamon gum, and lots of people swear by it," says Conway.
- Play a game.Whether it's a board game with your child or a game outside with your dog, games are great distractions. Playing outdoors with Fido is good exercise and gets both of you some fresh air. Playing with your child will remind you of why it's so important to quit smoking.
- Listen to some music."Drinking water, exercising, and relaxation are the three most important ways to beat a craving," says Conway. Whether it is music, reading, or meditation, find something that helps you relax. Anxiety and irritability are both symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
- Have a snack.Headache and hunger are other symptoms that go along with cigarette cravings. Several small, nutritious snacks during the day will keep your blood sugar steady and give you something healthy to do with your hands and your mouth. Try snacking on a handful of nuts or a piece of fresh fruit.
- Take a shower.A hot shower or a relaxing bath can soothe cigarette cravings away. After that, you can brush your teeth and enjoy the new fresh taste in your nicotine-free mouth. By the time you leave the bathroom, your craving will have passed.
Being able to say you have quit smoking for good is the best news you can give yourself and your loved ones. But even if you have a slip, it does not mean you'll failed in the long run. Most people have several slips before they finally stop smoking. "Each time you try to quit smoking, you learn a little more about your roadblocks and add some tools for future success," says Conway.
Video: How Long Does It Take For Cravings To Stop After Quitting Smoking?
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