“Quitting smoking is probably one of the hardest things anyone can do,” says Jackie Maimin, acting CEO of the Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA).
“Stopping smoking can cause mood swings, headaches, sleep loss, irritability, and cravings for nicotine that can feel almost impossible to ignore.
“The good news is that research shows that for the first 10 days after stopping, smokers will experience three smoking-induced urges a day each lasting just three minutes. If you can distract yourself for those three minutes each time a craving hits, you are one step closer to having kicked the habit,” says Maimin.
Here are six ways to distract yourself for those three minutes:
Reach for a healthy snack such as fruit, nuts, salads and yoghurt. Try not to replace nicotine with sugary, fatty, salty comfort foods!
Keep yourself happily busy with a pleasurable hobby or activity, such as model-building, reading, sewing, kite flying or gardening.
The good news is that on quitting, your oxygen and energy levels will start to increase. Divert the negative energy from cravings into a positive health benefit by taking some exercise, such as a brief walk, or jog, or cycle outside in the fresh air. Even a stroll around the office or taking the stairs instead of the lift is a good way to divert that urge while at work.
Slowly sipping a glass of water or cup of herbal tea can help dull a cigarette craving. Water will help flush out toxins (like nicotine), thus removing this addictive substance from your bloodstream
By keeping your hands busy, you’re mimicking smoking behaviour. So ‘arm’ yourself with a stress ball, coin or pencil to twirl – anything that keeps you and your hands distracted.
When the urge to smoke feels overwhelming, tell yourself to wait just three minutes – you could even watch the clock. Chances are, by the time this period has passed, your cravings will have subsided. If they haven’t, add another three minutes. Eventually, it will become hours, then days, then months, until it becomes your new ‘normal’ state.
May is ‘Anti-Tobacco’ campaign month, culminating in ‘World No Tobacco Day’ on 31 May.
The ICPA has joined the World Health Organisation (WHO) in calling on smokers to quit this deadly habit for a period of 24 hours on 31 May. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/loveyoutostop
This story was featured on www.all4women.co.za