What can you do if you are really craving a smoke?
First, let’s differentiate between 2 concepts that occur when you quit smoking.
One idea is that of craving. This is the overwhelming urge to smoke in that first week or two of quitting. It is a physical reaction. Your body is screaming out for nicotine. That it is a craving. This is what you are feeling most strongly on day three of your quit. In reality, the entire first week is going to be full of physical cravings. You need to find creative ways to deal with them.
This is different from obsessing over a cigarette. Obsession is very prevalent in those first few weeks as well, but you can also obsess over the idea of having a cigarette long after you quit smoking. The obsession to smoke could hit you ten years later, for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you are visiting a certain coffee shop that used to be an old hangout for you that you always used to smoke at. This obsession to smoke is a mental activity. Your mind is repeatedly toying with the idea of smoking.
So which is worse? The craving, by far, is much worse. The obsessing makes you want to smoke, but the craving makes you want to jump off a building! To make matters worse, this craving is generally accompanied by mental obsession as well. Your body is screaming for nicotine, and your mind is racing about the idea of satisfying this craving. It becomes a two pronged attack against your plan to quit smoking.
So what can you do about those crushing physical cravings? Here are five ideas to get you started:
1. Hit the Movie Theater – The idea behind the movie theater is that you are already used to not smoking there, so it can be a useful distraction when you are first trying to quit smoking. It will also help eat up some time in order to help get you through those first few days.
2. Take a Long Walk – When everything gets to be overwhelming, simply hit the door and don’t look back. You don’t need fancy shoes or a specific route or anything like that. Just move your body out the door and keep going until you’ve burned through that frustration. Walk straight out until you start getting tired, then turn around and double your distance by coming back. This has huge benefits for quitting smoking. First, you will eat up a lot of time on a long walk. Second, you will distract yourself massively with changing surroundings and scenery. Third, you will produce the dopamine chemicals that your body is craving through the exercise. And making it a long walk will help insure that those “feel-good” physical effects will last for a decent amount of time.
3. Gourmet Meal – Everyone gets extra hungry and eats a ton when they quit smoking, so why not treat yourself to a fine meal? Again, going to a fine restaurant is a good time-eater, helping you to get through those first few critical days. All of these tips distract you and eat up time. That is the goal here, to get you through the physical cravings of the first few days by massively distracting yourself. So go treat yourself to some fine dining.
4. Sporting Event – Another powerful distraction and time-eater. Find something that is smoke free, like a hockey game. Spend time there, get distracted, don’t smoke. Alternatively, if you play any sports–from golf to basketball to softball–get involved with that again and try to schedule some activity during your first week of quitting.
5. Hit a Theme Park, Zoo, or Nature Center – Go ride some roller coasters. Not only can you take the kids with you and enjoy the massively distracting environment that these places provide, you also get in lots of walking (dopamine production!) and potentially eat up a ton of time in your day.
Now that I’ve given you some ideas, you need to look at your own habits and find some more distractions that are custom tailored to your life. What types of things do you like to do? Get out there and take action and go do them. You can’t overcome cravings by sitting there and wishing them away. You have to overpower them by immersing yourself in distracting activities. Figure out what those activities are for you and go get busy!