We feel a strong urge to smoke when we crave cigarettes. It’s possible that physical cravings are caused by the body not getting enough nicotine, signaling that it’s missing its usual dose. Actually, this discomfort is a positive sign because it shows our bodies are cleaning themselves.
We can also experience cravings when we come into contact with an environment that reminds us to smoke. For example, whenever I began a more difficult task, I always smoked one or two cigarettes. It was my way of “getting started.”
The cravings aren’t a sign of failure but a natural part of quitting. Even if you don’t smoke, cravings disappear within 10-15 minutes. The most important thing is not to smoke!
I know it’s not easy when you want a cigarette so badly that you feel like you’re going to die. However, we must remember that there are former heavy smokers who have successfully quit. If they can do it, why can’t you? They also started somewhere. They had the same terrible feelings, but they are free now!
You can, however, reduce the intense craving for cigarettes with some tricks. Here are the things I usually do.
1. I try to be among non-smokers
I am trying to be among non-smokers as much as I can. It is really hard to stop smoking if everyone is smoking around you for two reasons. Firstly, you can feel, smell, and see the cigarette. The other is that you get back the “have a cigarette and let’s talk ” situation, which may bring up convenient memories.
To solve this problem, I kindly ask my friends and family not to smoke around me, or if they do, I will go away from them. I know it is a bit uncomfortable, but they understand and support you. Another thing I usually do these days is to find people who used to be cigarette smokers and get around with them. This way, I can get great support.
2. I distract and occupy myself
When the feeling of nicotine craving hits, I try to keep myself busy with some activity! That way, I don’t give in to temptation and relapse.
If I have time, I go for a walk or do exercises like push-ups or sit-ups. For me, physical activities work really well. I think the increased cardiovascular activity reduces cravings for nicotine effectively! Who wants to smoke when even breathing is hard? (I recommend aerobic exercises since they have so many health benefits.)
If you have time, you can also read a book, clean the house, play something, mow the lawn, or even wash up. No matter what, just engage yourself with something. The best is if the activity makes you tired.
When I’m at work and cannot do longer activities, I try to do something that makes me more excited and requires concentration. (I’m lucky since I’m my own boss, though.)
One of my friends who has already quit says the best is to keep your hands busy, such as drawing something, playing with a coin, or using the phone.
Deep breathing exercises have craving-reducing effects. When a craving hits, focus on your breath for a few minutes. Fill your lungs with fresh air by breathing slowly and deeply through your nose. After that, slowly exhale through your mouth. Keep repeating this until you feel calmer. Next time you feel the urge to smoke, try deep breathing to relax your body and mind and reduce cravings. It’s a natural and healthy way to deal with stress.
It is hard to give general advice, to tell the truth, since we are so different. The best is if you try as many activities as you can. I’m sure you will find something that distracts your attention from cigarette smoking.
3. I drink a lot of water or tea
When the craving comes, I usually drink a big glass of water or a cup of tea. It works for me really well. I think it is because it satisfies and fills the stomach, plus we use our mouth.
Water helps flush out toxins from the body, making detoxifying it easier. In addition, water helps to maintain a healthy pH level in the body. Having a balanced pH level allows the body to function more efficiently and heal itself more quickly. Smokers benefit from these benefits since they help their bodies recover from cigarettesmoking.
I don’t recommend drinking soda or other sugary drinks since they are high in calories and may lead to weight gain. If you are bored with water, you can add some flavor to it by adding fruits or herbs.
4. I think of the most important reasons why I want to quit
One of the most helpful things to do is to list why you shouldn’t smoke! It can be anything from saving money to feeling better to living longer. For most of us, the reason is to avoid health risks. It can help keep you motivated and on track. You can refer to your list whenever you want to keep reminding yourself why quitting smoking is so important. If you write down the reasons to quit smoking and keep them prominently displayed, you will always be reminded not to smoke.
This list can be beneficial when you experience serious nicotine cravings. Just look at it and think about all the good results you will get.
5. I don’t feel sorry for myself
Feeling sorry for ourselves isn’t always bad. Some people find it useful for processing difficult emotions and experiences. Yet sometimes, wallowing in self-pity harms us.
Our own problems and concerns dominate our thoughts when we feel sorry for ourselves. We may think that our situation is unique or that nobody understands what we’re suffering. Isolation and loneliness can result from this.
Additionally, self-pity can prevent us from taking action to improve our situation. We may be content to stay in our comfort zone rather than risk facing potential rejection or failure. This can keep us stuck in a negative spiral.
Both feelings will make quitting smoke much harder. If we are isolated and depressed, we want to compensate for our negative feelings somehow. And what could be better than smoking a cigarette?
Ultimately, feeling sorry for ourselves can be counterproductive and damaging.
6. I chew something
Chewing on something is a very common habit among smokers who have stopped smoking. They chew gum or have a mint to help them resist the urge to smoke. The logic behind this is that putting something in your mouth will trick your brains. Many people chew toothpicks when they feel the urge. I know a guy who needs a strong taste in his mouths, such as salt or sugar.
To improve this chewing solution, you can try eating something healthy such as veggies or fruits! Veggies and fruits are full of important vitamins and minerals that will help improve your overall health! So, always have some healthy snacks at your hand.
Of course, I also tried nicotine gum, but its taste was so bad that I couldn’t stand it for long. So, I stick to simple sugar-free gum. But, what doesn’t work for me, may work for you. There is no doubt that chewing this type of gum decreases nicotine withdrawal symptoms for many people.
7. I spend more money on myself
When I smoked like a chimney, I spent hundreds of dollars on cigarettes every month! And, I didn’t buy myself many things. Seeing how much money I spent on my nicotine addiction is so funny now. (How stupid I was.)
These days, I put a large part of the money into a savings account. But whenever I feel a desire for something, I’m not stingy. I buy it. This is how I got my new scooter.
I know many people who collect the money that they otherwise spent on tobacco. It seems to motivate most people.
How long does cigarette craving last after quitting?
Cigarette cravings typically peak within the first few days after quitting and then gradually diminish over time. However, cravings can still occur even after several weeks or months of being smoke-free. Being prepared for cravings and having a plan to handle them when they happen is the best way to deal with them.
What foods help with cigarette cravings?
Certain foods can help reduce the number of cravings experienced by smokers. One such food is celery, which is thought to act as a natural detoxifier and help clear nicotine from the body. Other crave-busting foods include oranges, which are rich in vitamin C, and omega-3-rich fish like salmon or tuna.
What causes cigarette cravings
Every cigarette you smoke releases a flood of nicotine into your bloodstream. The nicotine then stimulates your brain’s reward circuits, causing the pleasurable feelings we associate with tobacco. These pleasant feelings are a powerful reinforcement for the brain and can make you crave more nicotine. The problem is, the more nicotine you take in, the more you reinforce your brain’s pleasure circuits and the stronger your cravings become. It is hard to break such a vicious cycle. However, as with any addiction, it is possible with the right approach and support.
To sum up
I hope you found my tips on coping with cigarette cravings useful and that you picked some which will be effective for you! No matter what anyone tells you, remember that we are all different. What works for me might not work for you. So, try to find the best solutions for you. Don’t be afraid to test.
Taylor, A. H., Ussher, M. H., & Faulkner, G. (2007). The acute effects of exercise on cigarette cravings, withdrawal symptoms, affect and smoking behaviour: a systematic review. Addiction, 102(4), 534-543.
Potvin, S., Tikàsz, A., Dinh-Williams, L. L. A., Bourque, J., & Mendrek, A. (2015). Cigarette cravings, impulsivity, and the brain. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 6, 125.