One of the biggest challenges when trying to quit smoking is ignoring cravings. Giving into cravings can undo weeks – or even months — of hard work. They are classified as a symptom of recovery and are defined as the urges or desires to smoke.
A cravings can feel like a wave – it comes, peaks, and goes away, whether you smoke or not. Over time, these urges will happen less and less until you no longer have them, as long as you don’t smoke. Even if you have just one puff, cravings tend to increase.
There are two types of coping skills to help deal with them:
Cognitive coping skills
These skills enable you to use thoughts to help yourself stay smoke-free. You could say to yourself, “Smoking is not an option,” or “Wait a minute; I have been smoke-free. Don’t blow it now!” You may even have your own thought that inspires you.
Never Miss a Beat!
Subscribe to Our HealthBeat Newsletter!
Thank you for subscribing!
You are already subscribed.
Sorry, an error occurred. Please try again later.
Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!
Imagery is a type of cognitive coping skill. Imagery is very similar to daydreaming. When you start to feel a craving, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a calm, peaceful place. Choose a place from memory or one you make up. Practicing imagery will help to redirect your thoughts away from thinking about smoking.
Behavioral coping skills
These skills are actions you can take to avoid smoking. Deep breathing is a great behavioral skill to practice because it can be done anywhere and helps to relieve any feelings of tension or anxiety.
You may find that you miss having a cigarette in your hands or mouth. Having an oral or hand-held substitute can help when you feel the need to hold a cigarette. Some good oral substitutes are gum, hard candy, brushing your teeth, or applying lip balm. If you miss having a cigarette in your hand, holding something like a pen or rubber band can help.
Busy work is another great behavioral coping skill to keep your mind off smoking. Choose activities that you enjoy such as reading, writing in a journal, playing an instrument, or figuring out a puzzle. Create a list of things that you haven’t done in a long time or new activities you always wanted to try. Be careful about doing things that you did while smoking as they might trigger and increase cravings.
While incorporating these skills you will find you have more time to give to other activities and people.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.