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Coping with Cravings

While you are quitting, you may get cravings every once in a while. They will pass eventually, but until then, the urge can be quite great. Do not worry, there are ways to overcome the cravings

First, try remembering these 3 R's

Remind yourself why you want to quit. Look over your reasons for quitting that you wrote down earlier.

Rehearse what you will do to handle the urge when a highrisk situation arises.

Reward yourself for each urge you overcome.

Next, if that does not work, there are these 4 D's

Delay acting on the urge. Do not give in.

Deep Breathing
Use some of the deep breathing relaxation exercises in Appendix A[pdf].

Drink Water
Drink a glass of water very slowly, taking small sips � and holding the water in your mouth for a while.

Take your mind off smoking by keeping busy with something else. Work on a puzzle or go for a walk.

Type 1: Stimulator

You may find it helpful to take substitutes with you wherever you go. After all, you used to take your tobacco everywhere you went. Here's some suggestions:

  • Nail File
  • Toothpicks
  • Your list of reasons to quit
  • Playing cards
  • A book
  • Rubber bands to snap
  • Paperclips to bend
  • Bottled water
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Candy, gum or mints
  • Magazine or newspaper
  • Breath spray
  • Pens and paper for doodling
  • Worry stones or beads

You smoke for the lift you get. It picks you up and keeps you going. Here are some tricks you can use to fight off that craving. Can you think of any others?

  • Recite the benefits of being free from smoking.
  • Splash cold water on your face.
  • Take 10 deep breaths.
  • Do a few exercises and stretches.
  • Brush your teeth with mint toothpaste.
  • Snap a rubber band on your wrist when you get a craving.

Type 2: Handler

You smoke because of the motions. You like handling the cigarette and the ritual of smoking it. Here are some ways to avoid giving in to that urge. Can you add any others?

  • Doodle with a pencil.
  • Play with a Rubik's cube.
  • Handle a coin.
  • Hull sunflower seeds.
  • Drink a glass of milk.
  • Build something with tools.

Type 3: Relaxer

You smoke because it relaxes you. You like the calming effect of a cigarette. You may be able to avoid giving in with these tricks. Can you think of any others?

  • Sleep in some mornings.
  • Soak in a warm bathtub.
  • Go for a leisurely walk.
  • Read a good book.
  • Pray or meditate.
  • Do some relaxation exercises.
  • Do some mind imagery (see Appendix A).

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery is a gentle but powerful technique that focuses and directs the imagination. It is offered to patients at the U-M Rogel Cancer Center to assist in coping with the stress of cancer diagnosis and treatment. It can also be used to combat any sort of stress. There is an online audio library available. You might want to give it a try!

Type 4: Stress Reducer

You tend to smoke when you are most stressed. You find that smoking eases your nerves. These tricks may help you resist the cravings. Are there any others you can add?

  • Do some exercises and stretches.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Repeat "I love being free from smoking!"
  • Have breakfast in bed.
  • Telephone a friend.

Type 5: Nicotine Craver

You are most affected by your addiction to nicotine. You find it unbearable when you cannot smoke. Next time you feel a craving, try some of these tricks. Maybe you can add some more.

  • Exercise.
  • Break the chain of triggers leading to the habit.
  • Go for a walk after a meal.
  • Avoid coffee, tea, and caffeine.
  • Look at your watch and count to 300.
  • Chew sugarless gum.
  • Avoid red meat, alcohol, and hot spices.
  • Snap a rubber band on your wrist when you get a craving.

When all else fails, remember the craving will pass. Praise yourself for getting this far and feel proud. Know you can make it the rest of the way.

Type 6: Habit Smoker

You smoke because of the habit. You may not even like smoking anymore. Here are some tricks to use the next time you have a craving. Are there any others you can add?

  • Get a drink of water.
  • Keep your hands busy.
  • Do some stretches.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Identify the cues that precede your smoking.
  • Repeat "I love being free from smoking!"
  • Replace the old habit with a new good one.

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