HOW TO MANAGE CRAVINGS
How long does nicotine withdrawal last? The first two weeks are the hardest. Being prepared to get through by using your customized quit plan, assistance from your doctor, additional support from an 802Quits phone or in-person Quit Coach and your support network will be key to your success. Every quit experience feels different; it will be harder for some people than others. If you’ve tried one approach in the past and it didn’t work, consider trying another. Every try builds on what you’ve learned and gets you closer to success.
What about E-Cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an aid to quit smoking. E-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), including personal vaporizers, vape pens, e-cigars, e-hookah and vaping devices, may expose users to some of the same toxic chemicals found in combustible cigarette smoke.
Becoming Tobacco Free
How will you react on your quit date? Will you jump out of bed, eager to start your new tobacco-free life? Or will you hide under the covers hoping that the idea of quitting was just a dream? Either way, take pride in knowing that when you wake up on your Quit Day, you are now officially tobacco-free.
You may be wondering how to stop craving cigarettes and other tobacco products. Here are some tips for managing cigarette and e-cigarette cravings and other tobacco cravings.
On your Quit Day, you’ll want to do a quick check to make sure all of your tobacco is gone. Then, begin your day by going over your reasons for quitting. Another good idea is to put together a “stress relief bag.” In it, you can put hard candy, mints, drinking straws or coffee stirrers, a stress ball or something else to keep your hands busy, a picture of a loved one or pet or a note from a child or from yourself to keep you going whenever you get those cravings.
Think about the places you normally smoke, chew or vape. If you can avoid them once you quit, it’ll help keep you from getting tempted and help manage cigarette, e-cigarette or other tobacco cravings.
The most important thing to do is to carry out the plans you made for this day, the next day and for as long as you need until the urge to use tobacco is easy to manage. You know the times and situations that will make you want to use tobacco, but starting now you can put your tailored quit plan into place to get through those times. While feeling better—easier breathing and having more energy—will occur in a matter of days, it can take up to six months to feel tobacco-free. In fact, being tobacco-free at six months is a milestone to staying quit.
Action strategies are things you can do that help you manage cravings. There is no way to know ahead of time which will work for you, so it’s best to have lots of choices. You may find that some work better than others in certain situations. The only way to know for sure is to try them out.
There are three simple rules to follow when picking action strategies:
1.It should be easy to do. The easier it is, the more likely you’ll do it.
2.It should be something that’s pleasant. If it’s unpleasant, chances are you won’t want to do it!
3.The action you choose should stop or at least reduce your urge. If it doesn’t reduce your craving for a cigarette or e-cigarette, chewing tobacco, snuff or vape, you need to find something else that will.
Examples of action strategies to try:
- Practice the 4Ds. Take a DEEP breath or 2. DRINK a glass of water. DO something else. DELAY for 10 minutes.
- Connect with other quitters who know what you’re going through.
- Distract yourself until the craving passes. Most cravings last only 3-5 minutes. What do you enjoy for that period of time? Thinking about the money you are saving and what you can buy? Taking a walk? Watching a favorite YouTube video? See below for more ideas.
If you can get through that nicotine withdrawal craving by distracting yourself, you’re one step closer to reaching your goal. When you think about quitting as one 5-minute achievement at a time, it can feel a little easier to accomplish.
- Delete your old text messages or update your phone’s address book.
- Delete old emails from your computer or phone.
- Change your shirt or shoes. This small act can help you reset and feel better.
- Carry a ping pong ball and a rubber band. It sounds silly, but trying to wrap that rubber band around the ping pong ball isn’t as easy as it sounds, and it keeps you busy until a craving passes.
- Walk around the floor or building if you’re at work—think of it as a non-smoking break.
- Take the car to a car wash or vacuum the interior.
- Brush and floss your teeth. It will help get your mind off the craving, and you’ll have fresh breath too!
- Think of at least 5 songs with people’s names in them.
- Take a sunflower seed snack break—working through those shells can be a challenge and a healthy way to spend 5 minutes.
- Peel an orange even if you don’t feel like eating it. It takes 5 minutes just to get all that white stuff off.
- When a craving hits, go to the restroom, wash your hands and check yourself in the mirror. By the time you’re ready for a cigarette break, the craving is actually gone.
- Play with distraction putty or a worry stone to keep your hands busy while you work through a craving.
- Take a quick walk and count your steps along the way, and see if you can do a few more each day.
- Clean up around the house or tackle a closet. Bonus: no cigarettes and a fresh, spotless home.
- Play solitaire or another game if you’re at a computer, but not if your workplace doesn’t allow it!
- Practice the 4Ds … Breathe DEEPLY. DRINK a glass of water. DO something else. DELAY for 10 minutes.
To come up with your own list of distractions and tips for managing cravings, think about the times of the day when you crave a cigarette or e-cigarette, chewing tobacco, snuff or vape the most and match up a tip. For example, if you always light up in the car, turn on the radio instead and sing along with the song. Most songs are three to five minutes. Once you’re done, your craving should be gone.