Coping with cravings

Helpful hints for those early smokefree days

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On average the craving for a cigarette lasts between 3 to 5 minutes, and may occur in a variety of forms and situations. They are most often triggered by excessive stress, a pleasurable smoking memory or situation, nicotine withdrawal or an opportunity to smoke.

Some techniques to employ when craving a cigarette

  • Distract yourself. As you become practiced in not smoking the time between each craving will gradually get more and more, until in the end cravings are few and far between. It is not unusual for cravings to occasionally occur years after giving up smoking.
  • Delay having a cigarette. Even the most intensive craving only lasts for 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Remind yourself that the urge to smoke is temporary and will be gone in 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Deep breaths. This helps you to relax. Close your eyes, take 10 slow, deep breaths and finish with a yawn.
  • Think positive. It can strengthen your will power and increase your confidence – congratulate yourself each time you resist a craving.
  • Drink water. This will help cleanse the body as well as distract you from smoking.
  • Distract yourself. Take a short break from what you are doing. Call a friend or go for a walk.
  • Discuss your feelings. Contact your Bucks Smokefree Adviser.


Other ways to help you cope

  • Exercise. It reduces cravings to smoke while helping you feel better in general. Find out more about fitness [Click on]
  • Get more rest. The stress of quitting can leave you feeling tired. If you find yourself unable to sleep (which is common), try taking a long walk a few hours before bed.
  • Relaxation and rewards. Give yourself a treat (a hot bath, a good book etc). Think of it as a protective measure for your quit programme.
  • You can use a second NRT product. See section on NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy).
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