Coping Mechanisms as You Quit Smoking
There are plenty of coping mechanisms that can help you to quit smoking. They are sorely needed.
Smoking is one of the most unhealthy things anybody can do. It leads to a slew of health complications and is one of the biggest variables going with regards mortality. It is a leading cause of premature and preventable deaths in the world.
Smoking is also incredibly addictive, of course. Tobacco – or nicotine, its active ingredient – is amongst the most addictive substances known to man. Addiction is inherently hard to recover from. Smoking is inherently hard to quit.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to have some strategies in place both before and throughout your journey to a smoke-free life. Below, we’ve got some of the best coping mechanisms going for giving up smoking and preventing relapse.
Coping mechanisms to quit smoking
The following coping mechanisms are all worth bearing in mind as you quit smoking. You will do well to put as many of them in place as possible before you quit. This will allow you to hit the ground running, set up to succeed. The last thing you want to be doing is playing catch up, trying to come up with a plan whilst nicotine deprived and in withdrawal.
Go in with a full list of coping mechanisms to quit smoking
Some people can succeed by just deciding to go cold turkey one day. They throw out their last few packs of cigarettes, decide they won’t smoke again, and get on with their lives.
Some people. Not most. Not even many.
Most of us need some kind of plan of action as we give up anything. We need to lay out our coping mechanisms to quit smoking, where addiction and withdrawal make things very hard.
Think ahead. Decide what day you are going to quit smoking. Make sure there is no temptation around from that point onwards. Also make sure that you are quitting at the right time. If there are any external stressors in your life, it will be that much harder and unpleasant to quit smoking. Choose a relatively calm period in which to begin.
Also think ahead to occasions or periods you know will be hard. If it’s your birthday coming up and you’re planning to go out for drinks, or if you have a busy period at work, or if you know that something upsetting will be happening in your private life… anything that deviates from the norm and adds stress will need accounting for.
Make sure they don’t happen within the first few weeks, and make sure that you have a plan (and an escape route if needed and appropriate) for managing cravings when they do happen.
Come up with a plan for the long run. This should contain some or even all of the points in rest of this list.
Get some support outside of your coping mechanisms as you quit smoking
Your first search for coping mechanisms as you quit smoking should involve talking to your doctor and looking up any local or national stop-smoking charities. There are plenty. Your doctor will have lots of advice. They will be able to recommend products and to check in with you regularly to make sure you are keeping to it.
It doesn’t all need to be professional, however. Find out if anyone you know wants to give up smoking. Find out if there are any informal groups near you – there probably will be. Reach out to some like-minded people with the same goals. Stay in regular contact, supporting each other as you go through the journey together.
Know why you want to quit smoking
It usually isn’t enough to quit because you know you should quit. If this works for you, fantastic. However, many of us need a standout reason, or even a list of reasons, why we are quitting. This is where we come up with our best coping mechanisms to quit smoking.
This will both give you a firm foundation from which to work whilst also giving you a way to remind yourself of what’s important along the way.
For this reason, it is a good idea to write down your list of reasons for quitting. Do this before your final cigarette. It could be long or short. You could include things like improving your health, saving yourself money, improving your fitness, and so on. Try taking a picture of the important things. New parents or grandparents might want to take pictures of their children or grandchildren around with them.
Keep it all in mind. When you are tempted to smoke, take your list out, take your pictures out. Read it, look at it, remind yourself why you are doing this. It will help to put off your cravings and keep yourself strong.
Look into your dining habits
Food and drink are usually intricately bound up with the idea of smoking.
Some foods and drinks actually make cigarettes more satisfying. Meat can, especially red meat, according to one study. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, tea and coffee all do the same. Others do the reverse, making cigarettes less appealing. These include fruit, fruit juices, vegetables and cheeses. With this in mind, plan your diet accordingly.
Coping mechanisms, especially as we quit smoking, start with a change in habits. Some people love a coffee and cigarette together, for instance. Others love that after dinner fag. Recognise when your low, more susceptible timings are. Make sure you have something to distract you. If you can, eat your dinner or drink your coffee somewhere you are unable to smoke. Have the above-mentioned list of reasons on-hand when you know you’re going to need it.
Keep a cravings diary
With the same in mind, keep a diary of your cravings. They may be random. They probably won’t be, though. Most likely you will find your cravings getting worse during the same periods every day, or triggered by the same types of things.
Write down when your cravings come on. Keep a note of the time and build yourself a picture of when these things kick in as you quit smoking.
Firstly, try to avoid any situations you can that you find trigger your cravings. If it’s certain times during the day, try to keep yourself away from temptation, away from situations in which you know you will be more likely to smoke. Either way, keep your list handy. It will help to fortify your willpower against temptation.
Get active as you quit smoking
If you can, get active as you quit smoking.
Firstly, it may suit your overarching goal. Many people quit smoking to be fitter and healthier. There’s no time like the present to work on your fitness.
Secondly, it can help to undo a lot of the damage caused by smoking. You will be able to improve your cardiovascular health, circulation, and inflammation levels by being more active – all goals that smoking cessation also reaches.
Finally, it will make you far likelier to stay smoke free. It can cut cravings and may even help to produce anti-craving chemicals in your brain.
Start small. A fifteen-minute walk per day is enough to cut cravings and begin rebuilding your cardiovascular health. As time passes, go bigger. Try joining a gym, signing up to some classes, or going for a few swims each week.
Keep good company
You will always be more tempted to smoke when there are others smoking around you. Therefore, it’s a good idea to avoid passive smoking situations, to steer clear of other smokers, at least in the early days.
If you go out clubbing, or go to parties, stay away from the smoking section. The balcony where everyone congregates to light up is a no-go for you. If you can, try staying away from these kinds of events altogether, again, at least at the beginning.
If you’re able to, hang out in non-smoking environments with non-smokers. The gym is a good place to start, as are cafes and any indoor spaces. Even the pub is fine, as long as alcohol isn’t too bad a trigger for you. Sit inside, don’t go out with people when they head to the garden to smoke, and you should be OK and free from temptation.
Don’t let the devil make work of idle thumbs
You need to keep your hands and mouth busy if you’re giving up smoking. A lot of the struggle of quitting comes from wanting to physically handle a smoke a cigarette.
Nicotine replacement therapies (NCTs) come good, here. Think of things like nicotine gum, pills, lozenges, and sprays. They will give you something to physically do with your mouth as you quit. Otherwise, regular gum can work, if you want to completely cut out nicotine.
Find something for your hands to do. You can use an e-cigarette or inhalator if you’re going in for an NCT. Otherwise, a pen or pencil can make a good placebo for when you get agitated.
I’ve even known people resurrecting their childhood Tamagotchi habits to keep themselves occupied. Whatever works for you.
Connect with likeminded others
Finally, it is always very helpful to connect with those who have shared experience of what you are going through. They can help to motivate you in your resolve and teach you the coping mechanisms they find helpful.
Recoverlution’s platform is purpose built to help you connect quickly and with the right people. Whether you are here to quit smoking or for recovery from another substance, you don't need to be alone. You can also make use of the many proven holistic methods that we offer that support recovery and wellbeing by subscribing to our wellness hub.
Interestingly, certain types of yoga have been proven to help overcome addictions, you may want to give them a try and join a support group to optimise your chances of success.
Author - James
- Coping With Stress Without Smoking https://smokefree.gov/challenges-when-quitting/stress/coping-with-stress
- Handling Nicotine Withdrawal and Triggers When You Decide To Quit Tobacco https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/withdrawal-fact-sheet