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Dr. David Cohen, N.D., Ph.D., M.H., C.N.C.  and MrShortcut invite YOU to quit smoking here at the world's largest personal web site
With special thanks and credit to NCI and NIH for creating this program

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 day–especially 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 busy–doodle, 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 thinking!

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.
Table of Contents:

Preparing Yourself for Quitting
    Knowing What to Expect
    Involving Someone Else
Ways of Quitting
Just Before Quitting
    On the Day You Quit
Immediately After Quitting
Snack Calorie Chart
What Happens After You Quit Smoking
Withdrawal Symptoms and Activities that Might Help
Quitting for Keeps
    Congratulations!
    Keep Your Guard Up
How to Dampen That Urge
Not Smoking is Habit-Forming
    Relapse: If You Smoke Again
    Marking Progress
Common Rationalizations
For Further Information
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