How to resist nicotine cravings when quitting smoking
Quitting nicotine is a top priority for many smokers, with studies revealing that over 70% of adult smokers are looking to part ways with the habit in the US alone. From smoking cessation treatments and therapy, to novelty methods like hypnosis and an array of quit smoking apps, there are many methods that smokers turn to regularly when looking to become a healthier version of themselves.
Many quitters reported that the journey to becoming nicotine-free can be rather troublesome. Whilst some find it harder than others, the reason why quitting is so difficult is crystal clear: nicotine is one of the most addictive substances out there. With research revealing that the drug is more addictive than hard substances like heroin, it’s no wonder why so many people struggle to shake the habit off for good. Nicotine releases a chemical in the brain called dopamine, which affects it the same way that highly addictive substances would. Not only is nicotine up there with a bunch of bad-for-you substances, but it also reaches the brain in a super-speedy eight seconds, affecting everything from your mood, to your appetite and your skin.
In high concentration, the substance can actually be deadly. Studies revealed that one drop of purified nicotine on the tongue is enough to kill a person.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’VE GOT A NICOTINE ADDICTION
When developing any kind of addiction, many smokers end up in an initial state of denial. However, there are some clear signs that will help you identify when you’re developing an addiction.
1: You have the urge to smoke within thirty minutes of stepping outside
2: You have noticed changes in your mood and behaviour within a few hours of having your last cigarette
3: You experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop; these include strong cravings, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, depression, frustration, anger, increased hunger and insomnia
4: You keep smoking, even though you’ve got notable health problems
5: You noticed yourself giving up certain activities that don’t allow you to smoke
WHY QUIT SMOKING
Whilst there is no doubt that quitting smoking can be a hard path to embark on, there are plenty of reasons to kick the habit, with both your mental and physical state considerably improving. From a better overall state of mind, to major milestones that your body gradually rewards you with, the long-term rewards of becoming nicotine free are definitely worth the journey. Here’s a brief timeline of what happens to your body when you quit smoking:
20 minutes after your last cigarette: your blood pressure will start returning to normal
8 hours after your last cigarette: the carbon monoxide levels in your blood will return to a normal level
24 hours after your last cigarette: your risk of heart attack is already lower a day into being nicotine free. This happens due to already increased oxygen levels.
48 hours after your last cigarette: the previously damaged nerve endings start to regrow, which results in your senses starting to come to normal
72 hours after your last cigarette: you’ll already feel the benefits of quitting, as your breathing will have already become better
One week after your last cigarette: this mini-milestone is a positive sign: according to research, ‘smokers who successfully make it one week without smoking are nine times as likely to successfully quit’
One month after your last cigarette: congestion problems and shortness of breath start to go away
Six months after your last cigarette: you will notice improvements in your overall state of wellbeing
One year after your last cigarette: your lungs will have massively improved, and you will feel more energetic and be able to breathe better
Five years after your last cigarette: your risk of lung cancer has dropped by half
THE BEST WAYS TO QUIT SMOKING
Considering there are so many benefits to being nicotine-free, the market for stop smoking products has brought to life a multitude of products and methods to help you kick-start your nicotine-free journey. There is an array of options available to suit everyone’s lifestyle and preferences.
Here are some of the most popular ways to kick the habit:
1: Indulge in some aromatherapy
There are plenty of studies that revealed that essential oils can help you quit smoking. From soothing your senses with their calming properties when you’re feeling stressed, to providing you with some sort of escapism on your quitting journey, the power of essential oils is a staple in many people’s quitting journey. Here are some of the best essential oils to help you on your quitting journey:
Angelica Essential Oil
This detoxifying wellness staple is known for its stellar ability to soothe the mind and alleviate stress. Additionally, its aromatherapeutic compounds have been proven to stimulate the respiratory system in a way that can reduce the urge to have a cigarette.
Black Pepper Essential Oil
Studies have shown that this essential oil can help you fight nicotine cravings due to the sensations it triggers when inhaled; researchers indicated that they felt similar to smoking, making subjects feel like they did not need to smoke.
Lavender Essential Oil
This sense-soothing extract helps reduce tension and relieve anxiety. The relaxing aroma can also help with restlessness and insomnia - both issues that quitters experience during the early stages of quitting smoking.
Peppermint Essential Oil
This oil has notable health benefits that can help you tackle nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Known to help with issues such as headaches, digestive issues and irritability, the punchy scent of this oil can provide some relief during your quitting journey.
2: Check out the array of smoking cessation products available out there
With the array of stop smoking aids available on the market, there are now plenty of options out there to help keep those nicotine cravings in check. From nicotine patches to inhalers and nicotine gum, there are options for all quitters out there.
3: Don’t be afraid to ask for support
Whether it’s from a friend or a professional, having someone to speak to when you’re struggling is of the utmost importance when embarking on your quitting journey. From quitting apps that have their own support bubbles within their platforms, to professional organisations and counsellors that can help you both online and in-person, there are plenty of options that cater to everyone’s needs.
HOW TO STOP NICOTINE CRAVINGS
When kick-starting your quitting journey, it’s important to know that nicotine cravings are only likely to happen in the early stages of parting ways with the substance. Like with any addiction - parting ways with nicotine can take a toll on your mental health and impact your wellbeing. But, with the help of a few tips and tricks (trialled by many ex-smokers), you will be able to shake the unpleasant feelings and make your journey to a nicotine free life more enjoyable.
1: Keep your mouth and hands engaged
When giving up smoking, many smokers struggle with oral fixation: this results from the lack of that hand-to-mouth gesture you constantly engage in as a smoker. However, this can be fixed by making sure you have some sort of soothing activity to help you fight that urge when trying to quit. Something as simple as chewing gum, or having healthy snacks can help in the early stages.
2: Avoid triggers
Some situational triggers (like drinking alcohol or coffee) can make your quitting journey harder. Urges for tobacco are most likely to be the strongest in situations where smoking would naturally occur. Don’t set yourself up for failure; instead, be prepared and have something on hand that will prevent a nicotine relapse - this could be something as simple as making sure you have a snack at the ready when you drink coffee.
Physical activity is proven to help reduce nicotine cravings by distracting you from the sensation. Whether you opt for a workout, or do something as simple as going for a walk or a joke. The endorphins produced by exercising will also help with the stress that your quitting journey can bring.