Did you quit smoking recently? Congratulations! You’ve decided to embark on a healthier path and you will certainly start feeling the benefits soon. But before you start feeling like you’ve never taken a puff, let’s acknowledge one of the hardest parts of quitting: cravings. Having smoking cravings is a normal part of the quitting process and one of the most difficult aspects to work through. The good news is that there is a way to beat them that’s free and requires nothing but your focus and your newly-clean lungs – deep breathing. When cravings hit on Monday, learn a few deep breathing techniques to forge through them and stay quit!
First, practice breathing deeply. Proper deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, should make your lower stomach rise as air fills it. If you only feel air filling your chest, you won’t feel the relaxing effects while you work through your craving. Direct the air down the back of your throat and down into your stomach. The air should fill your entire lungs. As you blow out, control the air as it leaves your mouth, taking more time to breathe out than you breathed in.
Next, redirect your focus from your craving to your breath. Pay attention to how your breath creates an ocean sound as it flows down your throat. Make that sound your main focus. It may help to pick a word to repeat to yourself as you breathe in and out, such as “relax,” “peace,” or even “breathe.” If needed, use a visual aid.
Take as many deep breaths as it takes to get through your craving. Making breathing a task instead of an involuntary bodily function is just one way to power through the edginess of a nicotine craving. It may also serve as stress relief in moments when you might otherwise reach for a cigarette.
The key to successfully using deep breathing as a way to control a craving is how you control your breath:
“The control of breathing is important. The faster one breathes, the more oxygen is being taken from the brain and the more anxiety is felt. Control your breathing and you will release the brains’ own ‘feel good’ chemicals called endorphins. With practice, you will be able to change your mood whenever you want.”
Now that you know what a deep breath should feel like, you can practice your deep breathing technique when a craving hits. Keep your quit going on Monday and beat your cravings with a few deep breaths. If you need someone to talk you through it, reach out and call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.