How to Dampen That Urge
There are seven major coping skills to help you fight that urge to smoke.
These tips are designed for you, the new nonsmoker, to help you nurture
the nonsmoking habit.
1. Think about why you quit
Go back to your list of reasons for quitting. Look at this list several
times a dayespecially when you are hit with the urge to smoke. The
best reasons you could have for quitting are very personally yours, and
these are also the best reasons to stay a nonsmoker.
2. Know when you are rationalizing
It is easy to rationalize yourself back into smoking (see Common
Rationalizations). Don't talk yourself into smoking again. A new nonsmoker
in a tense situation may think, "I'll just have one cigarette to calm
myself down." If thoughts like this pop into your head, stop and think
again! You know better ways to relax nonsmokers ways, such as taking
a walk or doing breathing exercises.
Concern about gaining weight may also lead to rationalizations. Learn to
counter thoughts such as, "I'd rather be thin, even if it means smoking."
Remember that a slight weight gain is not likely to endanger your health
as much as smoking would. (Cigarette smokers have about a 70-percent higher
rate of premature death than nonsmokers.) And review the list of healthy,
low-calorie snacks that you used when quitting.
3. Anticipate Triggers and Prepare to Avoid Them
By now you know which situations, people, and feelings are likely to tempt
you to smoke. Be prepared to meet these triggers head on and counteract
them. Keep using the skills that helped you cope in cutting down and quitting:
- Keep your hands busydoodle, knit, type a letter.
- Avoid people who smoke; spend more time with nonsmoking friends.
- Find activities that make smoking difficult (gardening, washing the
car, taking a shower). Exercise to help knock out that urge; it will help
you to feel and look good as well.
- Put something other than a cigarette in your mouth. Chew sugarless
gum or nibble on a carrot or celery stick.
- Avoid places where smoking is permitted. Sit in the nonsmoking section
of restaurants, trains, and planes.
- Reduce your consumption of alcohol, which often stimulates the desire
to smoke. Try to have no more than one or two drinks at a party. Better
yet, have a glass of juice, soda, or mineral water.
4. Reward yourself for not smoking
Congratulations are in order each time you get through a day without smoking.
After a week, give yourself a pat on the back and a reward of some kind.
Buy a new record or treat yourself to a movie or concert. No matter how
you do it, make sure you reward yourself in some way. It helps to remind
yourself that what you are doing is important.
5. Use positive thoughts
If self-defeating thoughts start to creep in, remind yourself again that
you are a nonsmoker, that you do not want to smoke, and that you have good
reasons for it. Putting yourself down and trying to hold out using willpower
alone are not effective coping techniques. Mobilize the power of positive
6. Use relaxation techniques
Breathing exercises help to reduce tension. Instead of having a cigarette,
take a long deep breath, count to 10, and release it. Repeat this 5 times.
See how much more relaxed you feel?
7. Get social support
The commitment to remain a nonsmoker can be made easier by talking about
it with friends and relatives. They can congratulate you as you check off
another day, week, and month as a nonsmoker. Tell the people close to you
that you might be tense for a while, so they know what to expect. They'll
be sympathetic when you have an urge to smoke and can be counted on to help
you resist it. Remember to call on your friends when you are lonely or you
feel an urge to smoke. A buddy system is a great technique.
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