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Managing Cravings

Physically

  1. Deep breathing is perhaps the single most powerful and important technique:
    Every time you want a cigarette, do the following. Do it three times.

    • Inhale the deepest lung-full of air you can, and then, very slowly, exhale. Purse your lips so that the air must come out slowly. As you exhale, close your eyes, and let your chin gradually sink over onto your chest. Visualize all the tension leaving your body, slowly draining out of your fingers and toes, just flowing on out.
    • This is a variation of a yoga technique and is very relaxing. If you practice this, you'll be able to use it for any future stressful situation you find yourself in. And it will be your greatest weapon during the strong cravings sure to assault you over the first few days.
  2. Taking in fluids:
    The first few days, drink LOTS of water and fluids to help flush out the nicotine and other poisons from your body. Remember that the urge to smoke only lasts a few minutes, and will then pass. The urges gradually become farther and farther apart as the days go by.
  3. Stay away from alcohol, sugar and coffee
    Do your very best to stay away from alcohol, sugar and coffee the first week or longer, as these tend to stimulate the desire for a cigarette. Avoid fatty foods, as your metabolism will slow down a bit without the nicotine, and you may gain weight even if you eat the same amount as before quitting. So discipline about diet is extra important now. No one ever said acquiring new habits would be easy!

    Nibble on low calorie foods like celery, apples and carrots. Chew gum or suck on cinnamon sticks.

    Stretch out your meals; eat slowly and wait a bit between bites.

    After dinner, instead of a cigarette, treat yourself to a cup of mint tea or a peppermint candy.

  4. Taking an oral substitute
    In one study, about 25% of quitters found that an oral substitute was invaluable. Another 25% didn't like the idea at all - they wanted a clean break with cigarettes. The rest weren't certain. One can use cinnamon sticks, chewing gum or artificial cigarettes as a substitute. You will mostly find that after the first week of being a non smoker, you wouldn’t even need these.
  5. Minimize cravings by changing your routine.
    Sit in a different chair at breakfast or take a different route to work. If you usually have a drink and cigarette after work, change that to a walk. If you're used to a smoke with your morning coffee, switch to tea, or stop at Starbucks for a cup of java -- the chain is smoke-free.
  6. Carry some cinnamon-flavored toothpicks with you.
    Suck on one whenever a cigarette craving hits.
  7. Make an appointment with an acupuncturist.
    There is some evidence that auricular acupuncture (i.e., needles in the ears) curbs cigarette cravings quite successfully, says Ather Ali, N.D., a naturopathic physician completing a National Institutes of Health-sponsored postdoctoral research fellowship at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, Connecticut. You can even do it yourself by taping "seeds" (small beads) onto the acupuncture points and squeezing them whenever cravings arise.
  8. Find a healthy snack food you can keep with you
    and use in place of cigarettes to quench that urge for oral gratification. For instance, try pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds, sugarless lollipops or gum, carrot or celery sticks. The last ones are best if you are concerned about weight gain.
  9. Get exercising.
    Go to a gym, sit in the steam, exercise. Change your normal routine - take time to walk or even jog around the block or in the local park.
  10. Switch to a cup of herbal tea
    whenever you usually have a cigarette. That might be at breakfast, midmorning, or after meals. The act of brewing the tea and slowly sipping it as it cools will provide the same stress relief as a hit of nicotine.
  11. Switch your cigarette habit for a nut habit
    -- four nuts in their shell for every cigarette you want to smoke. This way, you're using your hands and your mouth, getting the same physical and oral sensations you get from smoking.
  12. Pamper yourself.
    Go ahead and join a yoga class or maybe reiki – they're great! Get a one hour massage, take a long bath - pamper yourself. Get yourself involved in a hobby.
  13. Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
  14. Keep other things around instead of cigarettes.
    Try carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, celery, raisins, or sugarfree gum.
  15. Wash your hands or the dishes when you want a cigarette very badly. Or take a shower.
  16. Change scene
    Where you are and what is going on can make you crave a cigarette. A change of scene can really help. Go outside, or go to a different room. You can also try changing what you are doing.

Mentally

  1. Picture yourself playing tennis.
    Or go play tennis. British researchers found volunteers trying to quit smoking were better able to ignore their urges to smoke when they were told to visualize a tennis match.
  2. Think only about that peaceful image and nothing else.
  3. No matter what, don't think, "Just one won't hurt."
    It will hurt. It will undo your work so far.
  4. Remember the urge to smoke will come and go.
    Try to wait it out. Or look at the plan you made previously. You wrote down steps to take at a time like this. Try them!
  5. Remember: Trying something to beat the urge is always better than trying nothing.




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