There is no magic way to deal with cravings that works for everyone; else it would be a lot easier to quit smoking. Everybody uses a slightly different method, something that works for them, and everyone reacts a bit differently when they give up cigarettes. There are, however, some techniques which are helpful to a lot of people.
For the first two weeks after your last cigarette, the body uses a biological method to flush your body clean of the smoking-related chemicals. The technical term for this is homeostasis and it means the body is getting itself back to normal. It can be helpful knowing this is a built-in mechanism.
One of the reasons it can be hard to stop smoking is the guilt and anxiety that often go hand in hand with your effort. You might feel unsure whether you will be able to see it through or whether you will be unable to resist smoking again. This causes stress, which in turn causes you to feel like you need a cigarette to deal with this stress.
Don’t stress out about it. Just do your best. Many people fail to quit the first time, but succeed the second or third time. No big deal. The important thing is that you eventually quit (and the sooner, the better).
The most difficult time is in the first two weeks, when your body is making physical changes. Knowing the body is purifying itself can boost your willpower but you still need to stay strong. During the first couple of weeks, avoid anything stressful. Don’t stop smoking when you start a new job, when a family member has to have a medical operation or when work is especially stressful.
How to Deal with Cravings
1. Find something to do with your hands. This might be using a stress-relieving hand spring or squeezing a tennis ball. Start with your hands and then work up to doing exercises using your whole arm, back and shoulder. This gets your circulatory system back in shame and also stops you smoking in the meantime.
2. When you are craving a cigarette, play your favourite song. A song lasts about the same amount of time as a cigarette. Just like when smoking, you can carry on with what you are doing while listening to the music. Focus on the music. Pick something elevating rather than depressing.
3. Do something where you need to concentrate such as working out a math problem, fixing your hair or drawing a picture. Choose something you like or need to do and which will require a fair amount of concentration. This will help you temporarily forget about smoking.
4. Have fresh fruit on hand. When you feel like having a cigarette, eat a piece of fruit instead. Tangy fruit is better for this purpose than bland or sweet fruit. Orange and pineapple are effective but choose your favourites.
Usually, if you can get through the first few weeks, your body will get over the cravings for smoking. You might find that the cravings recur now and again for the next few months, but keep thinking how much healthier your body is now, how much better you feel, how much money you are saving, and keep in mind that the long term advantages far outweigh the short term advantages of lighting up a cigarette.
Sabyasachi Rakshit is involved in healthcare market research since 2010. He loves to write about various healthcare topics such as herbal medicines, alternative health etc.