One of the biggest challenges that you will overcome on your Stop4Life journey is coping with cravings. If you can control your cravings for a cigarette, you'll boost your chances of quitting.
Cravings happen because your body misses its regular hits of nicotine. There are two types:
- The steady and constant background craving for a cigarette. This type of craving decreases in intensity over several weeks after quitting
- Sudden bursts of intense desire or urge to smoke. These urges to smoke tend to get less frequent over time, but their intensity can remain strong even after many months of quitting.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy and stop-smoking medicines can really help curb cravings, but they can't completely stop them. Use our self-help guide overleaf to help with your cravings.
Avoid the triggers: try sitting in a different chair to watch TV, and having a shower as soon as you get up, if these are times you usually smoke. If you've always had a cigarette with your cup of coffee, switch to tea or orange juice instead. You don't have to give up coffee forever, just until you've broken the association with smoking.
Stay strong: expect your cravings to be at their worst in the first few weeks after quitting. The good news is that they will pass. If you take a step back and start smoking again, don't despair, as it can take a few attempts to quit for good.
Exercise: physical activity may help reduce your nicotine cravings and relieve some withdrawal symptoms. It may also help you reduce stress and keep your weight down. When you have the urge to smoke, do something active instead, like a fast walk, going to the gym or local swimming pool or gardening.
Be prepared: for cravings at special events like holidays, funerals or weddings. You may have never experienced these before as a non-smoker so you'll associate them strongly with smoking. Have some fast-acting NRT with you just in case.
Delay: When an urge to smoke strikes, remember that although it may be intense, it will be short-lived, and it probably will pass within a few minutes.
You will notice that your cigarette craving tends to vary, getting more or less intense throughout the day. This often depends on certain 'trigger occasions' when you would usually light up - after a meal, with a coffee, with an alcoholic drink. If you can hold on until the trigger moment has passed, you'll find that your craving quickly declines to a more manageable level.
If your craving has reached a point where you're in serious danger of giving in and lighting up, then why not spend a few moments reviewing the reasons why you decided to quit. You'll soon remember that your reasons for quitting are far more convincing than those for starting again.