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Managing routines

The biggest challenge most people face in the first few weeks of quitting is regular, persistent cravings to smoke.

Some cravings are due to your body wanting nicotine but others are due to the association your mind has made between certain aspects of your daily routines and smoking.

Change routines

Each smoker has their own particular triggers to smoke. If you’re aware of some of yours, you can change your routine to trick your mind into not expecting a cigarette.

When a craving hits, often it will subside if you briefly focus your attention on any other activity. Some typical habit-based triggers and some tips for changing the routine, below...

Smoking Habit

Strategy

First thing in the morning Have a shower first thing
With coffee (or tea) Change to a different drink, brand of coffee or mug; or change the place where you drink it
At morning tea Read a magazine or book; sit in a different place or with different people
At the computer at home Shift your desk around or redecorate it
After lunch/dinner Go for a walk
At afternoon tea Try a herbal tea; read the paper
Straight after work Do some exercise or meditation
Just before your start dinner Have dinner earlier or later
With alcohol Change to a different drink; hold drink in smoking hand
As you plan the next task/chore Breathe deeply or try a quick relaxation exercise
As a reward e.g. completing a chore   Listen to music; have a piece of fruit
When you're with another smoker Chew gum; bring a water bottle
At night in front of the TV Change the furniture around; hold a stress ball; do some stretches
Just before bed Have a warm drink or herbal tea; read a book

Each time you resist the urge to act on a craving you’re helping your mind break the link between that activity and the cigarette - you’re teaching yourself to be a nonsmoker, one day at a time.

Treat each act of resistance as a victory. Remind yourself that you always have a choice each time you have a smoking urge: act on it and smoke, or choose from one of many other options to distract yourself until the craving passes. The bigger your list of distraction ideas, the better.

More distraction ideas:

  • Have a piece of gum or fruit instead
  • Sip a glass of water slowly
  • Play with your pet dog or cat
  • Call a friend
  • Play a game on your phone
  • Ask a friend/partner for a shoulder massage
  • Do some gardening
  • Put some hand cream or moisturiser on
  • Grab a stress ball
  • Do a jigsaw or crossword puzzle
  • Peel an orange

Think of the benefits of quitting and the positive changes in your life since you’ve quit and how you’re building a happier and healthier future. Short term goals are good - take it one day at a time.

Learning to manage cravings is challenging at the beginning because it’s new. But like any new skill, you can learn to do it and get better and better as time goes on.

Change smoking thoughts

You’re bound to get smoking thoughts for at least the first few weeks - thoughts of how nice it would be to have a cigarette or how much you “need” one.

  • Don’t dwell on the smoking thought
    • Accept it then focus your mind on something more pleasant and stimulating.
  • Use self-talk to stay motivated and determined:
    • I can quit, and I will quit.”
    • “I don't need cigarettes – I might want one, but I don’t need it.”
    • “I’m going to be strong because it’s worth it.”
  • Break your smoking thought patterns
    • Focus your mind on something else, such as a relaxing image, a happy memory or how you are going to reward yourself for reaching your quitting milestones.

Coaching Selection Guide

Coaching options are below. Click "View details" for more information. Choosing the Best Way to Quit will also provide more details about the best quitting options.

Method Respected Provider Level of Support Cost Availability Personal Style Tips
Yes You can choose low, medium or high Cost of a local call (except on mobile phones) Available by phone Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm. People who like talking on the phone, like one-on-one contact and want strong support
Call the Quitline before you quit. Your chances of quitting are better if you speak with an advisor several times. You can also join the Quitline's callback service. The most effective way to quit is to combine Quitline with either a nicotine replacement product or quitting medication.
Yes Medium Cost of Internet access Constant People who prefer using a computer
Use QuitCoach several times while you are quitting. One of the most effective way to quit is to combine QuitCoach with either a nicotine replacement product or quitting medication.
If you're unsure, call the Quitline. Or order a Quit Pack here. Low Varies, often free Constant People who like to read and learn alone and people who prefer using a computer without much support
Practise the suggested exercises. Also, does this method offer realistic success rates? (Be very cautious if the number claimed is more than 50%.) Is the support offered by a well-known, respected organisation/publisher? Does the author have special training to help people quit smoking? Do you understand what you will be doing? Do you have to do any work? (Be cautious if there is a claim that you can quit without having to do anything!) Is it costly? (The more you pay, the more you need to check the credibility of the service.)
See registered health professional who is trained in helping people quit smoking. High Varies Usually at set times and locations People who prefer a one-to-one contact and want to talk to an advisor at scheduled times.
Check the advice covers problem solving and skills training, such as recognising smoking triggers and planning for risky situations. Also, does this method offer realistic success rates? Be very cautious if the number claimed is more than 50%. Is the support offered by a well-known, respected organisation? Does the practitioner have special training to help people quit smoking? Is the number of sessions too high or too low? (Be wary of anyone claiming high levels of success in less than four sessions.) Do you understand what you will be doing? Do you have to do any work? (Be cautious if there is a claim that you can quit without having to do anything!) Is it costly? (The more you pay, the more you need to check the credibility of the service.)

 

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