Advice on coping with the cravings for nicotine that go with quitting smoking with information on how long they will last and what you can do to distract yourself
There are no two ways about it, one of the most difficult aspects of giving up smoking is coping with the cravings. These tend to be worst for the first two to three weeks after you give up as your body begins to expel the toxins and withdrawal from the almost constant supply of nicotine.
Cravings can be both a psychological and physical response to stopping smoking and represent an addiction as well as a habit. Simply by not smoking yourself and avoiding people who are smoking your body will gradually break the addiction to nicotine and cleanse itself of this substance. Many find the initial days of withdrawal the hardest, but physical cravings should pass after the initial 2 - 3 weeks. Psychological cravings are related to more situational and emotional cues and can still be experienced years after the physical cravings have subsided (however by this time they will be few and far between).
Psychological cravings occur when you are in a physical or emotional situation that you associate with smoking. This could be anything as diverse as having a coffee break at work to feeling stressed. By identifying the cues and planning ways to deal with the craving when they occur you are much more likely to succeed in your quest to becoming smoke free.
Although the experience of craving a cigarette is very difficult to resist at the time, cravings only last a couple of minutes at a time and become fewer and further between the longer you have refrained from smoking. The best way to beat cravings is to distract yourself - here are some tricks you could try....
- Keep your mouth busy - chew gum, drink some water, snack on some celery, carrot or apple sticks or suck on a sugar free lolly pop
- Keep your hands busy - hold a pen or something else that feels like a cigarette, get some stress balls, tap your fingers, send a text or fiddle with anything you can get your hands on
- Listen to your favourite song
- Do some cleaning or tidying
- Go for a walk
- Brush your teeth
- Call a friend or a smoking support line
- Keep your ultrasound picture with you to remind yourself what a fantastic thing you're doing for your baby
- Take some deep breaths and focus on relaxing
Everybody is different wand while some can simply decide to give up, throw away their cigarettes and never smoke again, others find it very difficult and need help. If you're struggling to quit there is a huge amount of support and resources available to you, from your GP to local support groups, the NHS smoking in pregnancy helpline (0800 169 9 169), to your friends and family.
If you do slip up and have a smoke don't beat yourself up about it, instead focus on why you want to stop and what made you give in to temptation so that you can better prepare yourself to resist each time you feel the urge. Giving up smoking takes a lot of will power, but with a little support and the knowledge that you're doing something fantastic for your body and your baby, you will be able to do it!