If you are in the process of giving up smoking then no doubt you will be having nicotine cravings. Cravings can be both physical and psychological and it is important to make sure that you are dealing with both effects on your psyche. If you only sort out the physical effects then it is possible that a psychological one can come out of nowhere and catch you offguards, making it harder for you to give up smoking. Basically what happens when we smoke is that the nicotine releases a chemical in our brain which makes us feel pleasure, but nicotine is addictive so we need to keep having the chemical to feel the pleasure. By now, as we are smoking more and more, signals in our brain called neurons are being strengthened so that not only do we get pleasure from the actual smoking of the cigarette, but activites in which we like to smoke, such as after a meal, during a telephone chat, with a drink, are also being activated. So that now, when we come to do these activities, we automatically feel the need for the chemical of nicotine. It is important therefore to realise that it is not just the chemical we are fighting against, but the very real feelings that our brain has now organically and physiologically associated with smoking that makes us crave a cigarette. So how can we battle against this two pronged attack?
To combat the nicotine:
Try chewing nicotine gum such as Nicorette or I found that using an inhaler that gives you a burst of nicotine took the edge off my craving and it gave me something to do with my hands.
Distract yourself by doing something, anything, it could be the washing up, taking out the trash, doing some laundry, reading a book, anything that is not associated with smoking.
Use a simple breathing technique to calm yourself down. Whenever you feel a craving coming along, sit down and empty your mind. Breathe in and out, slowly and deeply several times until you feel calmer.
To stop the assocations:
Try a new hobby or get more involved in one you already have. When you are passionate about something you love doing, you forget about smoking as you are otherwise occupied.
If you find that you always want to smoke when you visit Auntie Vera’s house, because she still smokes, ask her to come to yours, or meet her in a neutral place. In other words, try to remove yourself from the activities that you associate with smoking.
Get busy. You’ll find that the busier you are the less likely you are to want to smoke and that most people when they are bored feel the need for a cigarette.
Replace the activity of smoking with something else. Whenever I fancied a ciggie when I was writing, I would get up and make a coffee or tea instead. It is important to fill the smoking gap with something healthy so that you do not fall back into your old ways. Try eating a citrus fruit like an orange as apparently these can help to combat nicotine cravings.
And remember, you can do it. I was a 20 a day smoker and gave up with the help of an inhaler for the first week. I am saving so much money, around £100 a month and my health has greatly improved. So if I can do it, you surely can! But if you feel that you need extra help visit your doctor who might be able to prescribe you Champix, the stop smoking drug. This does have serious side effects however.