Smoking cravings? 9 hacks to quit for good

The hardest part of giving up smoking is undoubtedly dealing with cravings, and the urge to smoke can be extremely powerful for many people. The best chance you have of quitting is if you are able to prepare yourself for your cravings, and have a successful plan of action when they do arrive.

While each craving is likely to be very intense, it will pass in a few minutes, and every time you are able to successfully resist giving in, you edge closer to being smoke-free for good. If you've decided the time is right to stop smoking, these tips might just help you come up with a viable plan to help you deal with your cravings:

1. Don't go cold turkey - use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

Before you mark your quit date on the calendar, speak to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). There are a number of different options available, such as nasal sprays and inhalers which are available on prescription, as are stop smoking medications bupropion and varenicline. You can also pick up gum, lozenges and patches over the counter from a pharmacist.

Different types of NRT do different jobs. For example, patches offer a slow and steady intake of nicotine throughout the course of a day, while a nasal spray will offer a quick boost of nicotine at a time when you are craving to smoke most of all. Speak to your doctor and/or pharmacist about finding the best forms of NRT for you.

2. Try to avoid trigger factors

With many people, the urge to smoke is stronger in scenarios where they are used to smoking than it is in others. This includes when out having a drink with friends, after a meal, or just when taking a break at work. Being aware of your own individual triggers is key to any attempt to quit smoking, so come up with a plan to deal with them.

This might mean changing your routine, such as keeping a pen and paper to hand when on the phone if you used to smoke while making calls. It might mean making a few changes to your social life for a few weeks if you associate smoking with certain friends. Have a good think about your own triggers, and what you can do to change them to ensure you aren't setting yourself up for a relapse.

3. Delay, delay, delay

It's not unusual to feel like you are going to crack and give in to your craving. However, if you can delay it, you still have every chance of avoiding it. Tell yourself you need to wait 10 minutes, and then do something to distract yourself. While cravings can be severe they are normally short-lived, and this may be enough to help you sail on through it. Remember, every time you resist a craving, you're one step closer to quitting altogether.

4. Have a snack

Having a snack to hand when your cravings strike can be an excellent form of distraction. So perhaps try to keep some hard sweets nearby as an alternative to lighting up. Other options include crunchy foods like carrots or nuts, because having something to take your mind off your craving for a few minutes can make all the difference.

5. It's never 'just one' - so don't do it!

A debate many smokers have with themselves is: 'Shall I just have one to satisfy the craving'? Sadly, all you'd be doing is fooling yourself because one is more than likely to turn into another, and all your hard work trying to quit is probably going to be undone.

6. Get more exercise

Exercise is a great way of distracting yourself from a craving, while it can also help to alleviate the intensity of your craving. Short spells of physical activity can be enough to make the craving away, whether you go for a walk or a jog, or try push-ups or squats. Even vigorous gardening or vacuuming can be useful exercises in distracting yourself for a few minutes, and sometimes that is all you need.

7. Find other ways of dealing with stress

One of many reasons people give for smoking is that it helps them deal with stress, and that initial stress can be increased by attempting to quit. Try a few relaxation techniques instead such as yoga or deep breathing exercises, while exercise is also particularly helpful for stress relief.

8. Ask for help from friends and family and also use online sources

Make your family and friends aware you're attempting to quit, and lean on them when a craving strikes. You never know, you may have friends who want to quit too, so you can help each other through it. If not, give somebody a call when you need to, or maybe go for a walk with a friend or family member if they live close by. As for online, you'll find several stop smoking programmes available, while some smokers also write blogs about their battle with cravings.

9. Above all, remind yourself of the benefits of quitting

You'll feel healthier, be able to breathe more easily, have more energy, increased smell and taste, protect your loved ones from passive smoking, and have more money in your pocket. What's not to like?