Quitting smoking isn’t an easy process and you may find yourself craving a cigarette during the day at the times when you would normally have lit up out of habit.
The good news is that cravings are often short-lived and you can find clever ways to distract yourself until the cravings pass. What’s more, you can use the time you would have spent smoking to do something positive instead.
Here are our top 6 ways of delaying and distracting the urge to smoke.
- Practise deep breathing
Taking slow, deep, controlled breaths – sometimes called mindful breathing – is a terrific way to deal with all sorts of tension, and it's something you can practise anywhere at any time
Take a slow deep breath through your nose to the count of five, hold it for another five counts, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of five. Repeat five times – or as many times as you need until the craving or tension has passed. This is also a good breathing technique to try in bed at night when you can't sleep.
- Drink water
Many of us don't drink enough water anyway, so this tip is a win-win!
If you normally nip away from your desk to light up, take a stroll to the office water cooler instead and help yourself to a cool glass of water.
- Go somewhere you can’t smoke
Fortunately, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to smoke in public these days. So why not take advantage of this and reward yourself at the same time?
Go and see a movie, visit a gallery or slot in an extra gym session.
- Write to yourself
Perhaps you’re someone who benefits from a visual reminder of why you are quitting?
When you feel the urge to smoke, write yourself a short note reminding yourself exactly why you are quitting and the benefits you are already experiencing or hope to experience. Seeing these reminders written down in black and white may make it easier to stick to your guns.
- Take a shower
Feeling anxious about your cravings? What could be more soothing than a long, hot shower?
The bonus is that you’ll come out feeling fresh and smelling good, so you’ll probably be less likely to want to spoil that with the smell of smoke.
- Phone a friend
Most of us have friends or family who've been hoping we will quit for some time.
Make a deal in advance with your quit supporters, letting them know that you will text or call them when you're feeling the urge to smoke. They will be glad you've leant on them for the extra encouragement you need.
These ideas have worked for many quitters, and you may have your own ways of delaying and distracting yourself from triggers. If you've found a technique that works for you, be sure to write it down. You might like to start a 'craving killers' list of your own to give yourself helpful reminders when you need them most.