No one ever said: “it’s easy to quit smoking.” And while there doesn’t seem to be one magic strategy that works for everyone, there are a number of techniques that have helped many people successfully quit; one is bound to work for you! The hardest part is the earliest days where the nicotine withdrawals and cravings put your willpower to the test. What seems to work best for people is finding a distraction to help them through the cravings. Studies show that these cravings only last for 3 to 5 minutes, so it’s just a (not so simple) matter of getting through a few of these cravings every day. Here are some things you can do instead of giving in to temptation:
Go somewhere you cannot smoke. This might be a library, museum, movie theater, church, or a particular restaurant. This atmosphere will force you to wait out a craving. Even the heaviest smokers can sit through a movie without stepping out for a cigarette.
Take a shower. Unless you’re a shower smoker, this is probably another place you won’t light up. Not only is a shower long enough to get you through a craving, you come out with that clean feeling which generally pushes off the next craving for at least a little while.
Wash your hands.You can’t smoke with wet hands. This might be just the time window you need to get through a mild craving.
Do something with the kids. Family time is always good and you’ll be a lot less likely to smoke with little ones around. Throw the ball around with them, or tell the kids a good joke. You’re not a smoker now, and they’ll appreciate the extra time you can spend with them.
Count the money you’re saving. Cigarettes are not just costly on your health, they put a big hole in just about anyone’s wallet. Next time you want a cigarette, think about the slowly building stack of money you’re saving now that you’ve quit.
Learn an instrument. Pick up the guitar, or the banjo, even your harmonica, and play around for a couple of minutes until the urge passes. Not only will you survive the craving, imagine how much better your Jimmy Page riffs will sound after you’ve started playing for twenty minutes a day.
Start vaping. E-cigarettes can be a great alternative to smoking. There’s no smoke involved, which saves your lungs from the chemicals in burning tobacco, and there is now a wide range of choices in flavors, packaging and nictoine levels.
Chew something. Pick something healthy such as sunflower seeds, sugarless gum, ice cubes or even raisins. When a craving hits, stuff your face!
Go for a bike ride. Hopefully you haven’t forgotten how to ride. You can do so for as long as you want, and the urge to smoke will be minimal as you check out the scenery and work the pedals.
Do push-ups. Drop and give yourself twenty. Start by using your knees if you have to. Imagine the trade-offs if you do five push-ups for every cigarette you’d usually smoke!
Brush your teeth. Give it the full, recommended two minutes. If that’s not long enough to get you through a craving, take a deep breath and notice how clean your mouth is. That’s what it will be like to be a non-smoker.
There are plenty ways you can spend your time instead of smoking. The key is to distract yourself for long enough to where you no longer need a cigarette. Keep at it, it DOES get easier.
Jennifer Quentin is a freelance writer and student living in Ogden, Utah. When she is not spilling her ideas onto paper (or the web), she enjoys hiking with her Cocker Spaniel, Mookie. She has recently quit smoking herself and has turned to vaping. She suggests reading the blog of Pink Spot Vapors if you are interested in quitting cigarettes.