Smoking, stress and boredom often go together.
The key to becoming a non-smoker is to find different ways to deal with those situations.
Managing the physical part of your addiction by using nicotine replacement products is the first step to reduce the number and strength of cravings.
Your doctor can provide advice on how to use nicotine replacement products for the best result.
This will allow you to focus on step two – retraining your brain to stay smokefree by dealing with the emotions and situations that make you want to smoke.
Stress is a trigger for many smokers, who often associate having a break with a cigarette.
In fact smoking adds to your stress levels, since nicotine causes your heart rate and blood pressure to spike.
If you haven’t had a cigarette for a while, it is common to feel tense and irritable.
It seems as though having a cigarette helps you relax, but this is only because it is cancelling out those uncomfortable nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Since smoking isn’t really helping relieve your stress, it’s worth thinking about some ways to achieve true relaxation.
Planning some strategies for those times when you feel bored or stressed can take your mind off smoking and help you establish new, healthier routines.
To get you started, you could make a list of the feelings and situations that make you crave a smoke.
Maybe it’s when you are stressed about work, upset with your partner or stuck in traffic – or it could just be that a cigarette and a coffee are part of your morning routine.
Next, think about how you could handle those situations without a cigarette. Some strategies might include:
A walk around the block, reading a magazine, having a herbal tea or playing a game on your phone
Listening to something different in the car – whether music or talkback radio – and having a mint ready to pop into your mouth
In the morning, instead of having a coffee and a cigarette as soon as you get up, you could have a shower first and then have your coffee somewhere different, preferably inside where you are less likely to smoke.
Quit specialists can provide more practical tips and strategies to help you resist cravings and stay smokefree. Phone the Quitline on 13 78 48 or visit www.quit.org.au
Donita Baird is cessation manager at Quit Victoria
Next week: Quitting while still having a social life