Remember the 5 D’s to Curb Your Cigarette Cravings
Whether you’ve just quit smoking or have been quit for a few months, you know that feeling well of wanting a cigarette. But cravings are unique for each person. Understanding the different kinds of cigarette cravings and learning strategies to combat them will go a long way toward helping you stay on track with your quit.
One kind of craving is purely physical—the sensations of your body going through nicotine withdrawal. These symptoms can come hurtling at you fast, some even within an hour of putting down that last cigarette— sensations like anxiety, irritability, sweating, nausea, headache, trouble sleeping, fatigue, and hunger. Good news is, if you’ve really quit, these symptoms usually peak in about three days and finish in two weeks.
The other kind of craving is habitual, triggered by people, places, things, and memories you yourself personally associate with smoking. For instance, if you always smoked after dinner, just being in a restaurant could cause a craving. If you smoke from stress, any stress – big or small, can cause a craving. Even happy events can cause cravings! In the end, your smoking habit is really a very personal combination of physical and emotional factors. But you can overcome them.
Remember the 5D’s to counter your cigarette cravings:
- DELAY. Cravings are short-lived—typically five to ten minutes. So just wait them out for a few minutes and remind yourself, “I can do this.” “I’ve got this.” “Not smoking is the best thing I can do for myself.”
- DISTRACT. When a craving hits, get on the offensive and throw your full attention into another activity, especially one you love or takes big energy. Go for a brisk walk, run up the stairs a few times, call a friend, play a video game, or get up and dance. Just changing your routine can shake up a craving. It’s also helpful to go to smokefree zone like a movie theater, store, or office where you can’t smoke.
- DIGEST. If your mouth is craving for something, stick a mint or gum inside instead of a cigarette. Intensify the sensation by chomping on a crispy apple, pumpkin seeds, or carrot sticks to give your mouth a workout. Just keep the food healthy!
- DRINK. Water is the elixir of life, and for smokers facing cravings during withdrawal, it’s an absolute necessity to cleanse and purify your body of nicotine and other toxins. Water also fills you up, and if your stomach feels full of liquids, you’ll be less likely to overeat.
- DEEP BREATHING. Taking deep breaths in the midst of a craving will activate your entire system and bring energy to your ability not to cave in. Try inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Repeat until you feel more stable. You can also try these animated breathing GIFs from DeStress Monday!
Like a wave in the ocean, cravings will rise and fall in your awareness but you don’t have to drown in them. Just the very act of trying one of these strategies will strengthen you for the next time that wave rushes toward the shore. Do what’s best for you, just don’t smoke. Each puff rejected will make you a stronger person and a stronger quitter!
What are some other techniques you use to stave off cravings? Let us know on Twitter!