The key to success with quitting smoking is replacing one behavior with another.
The key to success with quitting smoking is replacing one behavior with another. During those times when you want to smoke, do something else that doesn’t remind you of smoking. Start by making a plan for how to handle smoking “triggers” and cravings — before they hit. Cravings typically last 5 to 10 minutes, so you just need a distraction to get you over the hump. Try these ideas:
1 – Call or text someone. You don’t have to go it alone — lean on the people close to you to distract you. Don’t have anyone to call or text? Get some help from a resource at the bottom of this article.
2 – Read a magazine, listen to music or play your favorite game for 15 minutes.
3 – Take a walk or jog. Don’t have time? Go up and down the stairs a few times. Physical activity, even in short bursts, is one of the best ways to beat a craving.
4 – Review your reasons for quitting. Stave off a craving by reminding yourself why you want to be tobacco-free.
5 – Go somewhere you just can’t smoke, such as a movie theater, store, library or any other public place where you have no choice but not to smoke.
6 – Calculate your savings. Add up all the money you’re saving by not buying cigarettes and decide what you could buy with it.
7 – Keep your mouth busy with sugarless gum or hard candy.
8 – Take deep breaths. Breathe through your craving by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Repeat 10 times or until you’re feeling more relaxed.
9 – Go outside and find something you’ve never seen before and take a picture of it.
10 – Adopt a pet or get some fish. They never fail to provide endless opportunities for distraction.
11 – Keep puzzle books, like crosswords, word searches or sudoku, close by for an easy way to kill 10 or 15 minutes.
12 – Give someone you love a big bear hug.
13 – Eat crunchy raw vegetables, like carrot sticks or celery.
14 – Eat a popsicle or drink a glass of ice water.
15 – Put some lotion on your hands and work it in, giving your hands a good massage (while also keeping them busy) or paint your fingernails.
16 – Floss and brush your teeth.
17 – Clean out a drawer or closet.
18 – Alphabetize a book shelf.
19 – Change the sheets on your bed.
20 – Do some jumping jacks.
21 – Go outside and water the flowers or pull some weeds.
22 – Read a story to your kids.
23 – Scrub something — the floor, a window, a wall.
24 – Donate blood.
25 – Write a letter to someone or to yourself in the form of a journal.
26 – Do origami — either get an instruction book or find instructions online.
27 – Write a list of things you are grateful for. Keep reviewing your list and adding to it every time you have a craving.
Get a little help from your friends
Quitting smoking is tough, and having support is a major factor in being successful. Talking it out is a great way to get through a craving. If you don’t have anyone you can call or text, try these:
- SmokefreeTXT: This mobile text messaging service offered by the National Cancer Institute will send you encouragement, advice and tips every day and you can text it to receive support anytime you need it, day or night.
- Quitting hotlines: If you want to talk to a quit smoking counselor right away, call (800) QUIT-NOW/(800) 784-8669.
- QuitSTART app: This smartphone application offered by the National Cancer Institute offers personalized “pick-me-ups” and reminders to get you through challenging times, along with monitoring your progress, identifying smoking triggers and tracking your cravings.