How to Cope with Cigarette Cravings?
Quitting smoking is a difficult journey and it can take a long time for you to not ‘crave’ cigarettes after you quit. But every day you do not quit is a victory in itself.
If you are someone who is just getting started on the quitting journey or are trying to quit smoking again then this guide will help you with a few strategies that can help cope with cigarette cravings. But before we jump into those pointers, let’s take some time to find answers to some key points that will help you understand and tackle the cravings.
Cigarette cravings: What are they and Why do they happen?
Let’s start by telling you one of the most obvious things about cigarette cravings - they are absolutely NORMAL.
Everyone experiences those strong urges or desires to light up that bud when they are trying to quit or reduce smoking. They are the body’s natural reaction to a routine that is no longer in place. They happen due to many reasons and can be even triggered due to various factors like:
- Emotional Triggers: There are certain emotions like stress, anxiety, loneliness and even happiness that can trigger cigarette cravings. Some people turn to smoking as a way to cope with emotions and when they experience something similar, they tens to turn up to smoking to experience similar feelings.
- Behavioral causes: You often relate daily routines, specific activities, or places with smoking. They get ingrained into your routine and you crave them when you are doing that particular activity or at that particular place. For example - if you are used to smoking while driving to the office, you will crave cigarettes when you drive to the office. It is quite obvious.
- Social influences: Being around colleagues who smoke or being in social settings that are smoke-friendly can also evoke cigarette cravings. Social connections and peer influence could be the reason for you to start smoking in the first place. So if you are surrounded by people who are smoking, it is absolutely normal for you to want to smoke.
- Nicotine dependence: This is one of the most strong trigger points that make it really difficult to quit smoking. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that is present in cigarettes. When you smoke, you consume nicotine which triggers the brain to release neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals make you feel that instant feeling of ‘relaxed’ or ‘calmness’. Eventually, you get hooked on this high and seek it. This leads to physical dependence. When nicotine levels drop in the body, cravings arise as the brain signals a need for more nicotine. And when your body does not get nicotine, it experiences nicotine withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, irritability, sleeplessness, difficulty in concentration, and so on.
How Long Do Nicotine Cravings Last?
After quitting smoking, it takes between 3 and 4 days for nicotine to fully leave your body. That’s why the first few days after you quit smoking can be among the toughest: it’s when cravings first begin and are at their most intense. You can expect each craving to last about 10 to 20 minutes and then pass.
But luckily, these initial cravings are short-lived. They usually begin to lessen in strength and frequency after the first week and are usually gone completely in one to three months.
How to manage cigarette cravings?
Understanding these triggers is crucial for craving management. Here are a few ways in which you can manage those urges to smoke.
1) Break the habit
Do you smoke on your work break? Or when you are out with your friends drinking? Or when you are feeling stressed?
It is important to identify your triggers and then break those habits by creating some new ones. For example - Try going for a walk during your lunch break. Ask your friends to hang out at places that do not serve alcohol. The idea is to break away from old habits and replace them with something that does not make you want to smoke.
2) Be prepared to manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms
Nicotine craving is very much real. It is going to happen. But fortunately, there are many medically approved products available in the market that can help you manage them. These NRT products are designed to help you put a controlled amount of nicotine into your body without any cigarette smoke and help you manage nicotine cravings in a safer manner. Ryze nicotine gums are a classic example of a reliable companion that can help in smoking cessation.
Consult your healthcare provider and ask them to create a personalized smoking cessation plan for you.
3) Stay active and keep on moving
It is important to keep your mind involved in activities that do not remind you of smoke. Distraction is a great weapon in the fight against smoking. Hence, you must keep yourself busy. There are multiple ways to keep yourself from lighting up the cigarette. You can consider taking up a new and interesting hobby or even reviving an old one. If nothing else comes to mind, get started on a cleaning spree when the craving strikes. This will keep your mind involved. A walk in a park, on a trail, at a local mall, or around your neighborhood is also a good way to get moving, too.
4) Focus on your mental health
It is normal to feel angry and frustrated when you are trying to quit. You can even talk to your doctor if these feelings get a little out of hand. But it is important to take care of your mental health to manage the cravings as you need all the willpower and mental strength. Hence, do get initiated into some mindfulness activities.
5) Eat healthy, exercise, and drink water
This might sound like very generic advice. But it is very important to eat healthy and good food while you are trying to quit. All of us get cranky when we are hungry, so why give yourself that feeling when you are trying to quit? Additionally, it is also important to stay hydrated during this period.
Remember to tell yourself that it is NOT okay to have one slip or what harm a single drag can do. You will get all the urges to do that but you have to have self-control and tell yourself that there is a reason why you are doing this and a single drag can do much harm. It does not matter if you have the Best Nicotine Gum by your side or are exercising regularly, even one drag can pull your progress down.
You can consider talking to a friend or loved one during those moments of weakness and they will help talk you out of those feelings. Don’t feel shy about seeking out help as everyone understands that quitting is not easy. It is a real struggle and as long as you try your best, people will definitely help and support you.
And unfortunately, even after doing all of this, you relapse and end up smoking, do not give up hope. As long as you start again, stay persistent, and be committed to your resolve, you will succeed.