Quitting smoking or vaping may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but the rewards will last you a lifetime. In order to succeed at quitting, you need to learn how to deal with your cravings (because you know they’ll hit). You also need the motivation to keep going when the going gets tough.

One way to stick with your effort to quit smoking or vaping is to find something healthy to do instead. Many people worry that when they quit, they’ll gain weight, so it helps to find ways to boost your metabolism so you can focus on quitting, not on the number on the scale. Finally, as you’re quitting, you may have trouble sleeping, so knowing how to get a good night’s sleep is key.

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Dealing with nicotine cravings

When cravings hit you (whether to smoke or to vape), it’s time to take immediate action. The following actions are quick and easy to do, and they’ll get you through most unexpected urges:

  • Take ten slow, deep breaths. Hold each breath for a few seconds, and very slowly exhale.
  • Study the craving and notice exactly how it feels. Welcome the sensations and let five minutes pass. Notice if the feeling changes.
  • Suck on a piece of hard candy. Keep a stash of hard candy with you. When you pop it in your mouth, savor the flavor and notice how it tastes.
  • Take a five-minute brisk walk. Movement helps. It also kicks up your metabolism for a while, which is a component of managing your weight when you stop smoking. Notice how the craving feels during and after the walk.
  • Change your activity. Doing something different will distract you. Choose an activity that engages your mind or gives you pleasure.
  • Go to a place where no smoking or vaping is allowed. This strategy puts an obstacle in the way of indulging.
  • Stand on one foot. Yes, this may feel a little odd. But it’s hard to focus on balance and cravings at the same time. Change feet. Change feet again. Keep doing this until you feel the craving abate — or until people start looking at you funny.
  • Repeat a calming phrase in your mind over and over. Say, “Relax,” “This too shall pass,” “I’m getting healthier, better lungs with each breath,” or whatever you find useful.
  • If you can, walk up and down a flight of stairs. If you were still smoking or vaping, your lungs may not have been up to the task. If you can’t do it yet, give it time and talk to your doctor.
  • Do or get something special for yourself as a reward. Rewards are an important part of quitting. Congratulate yourself! Then find something fun to do or go shop for something for yourself.

Staying motivated to quit smoking or vaping

When you find yourself in the midst of a nicotine craving episode, you may start doubting the very wisdom of having decided to quit smoking or vaping. Affirmations, said regularly, can help remind you what this decision is really all about. Here are some to try:

  • Every day without a cigarette is a day my health will improve.
  • I’m saving money every day, and it really adds up.
  • I am powerful enough to beat this.
  • Smoking a cigarette will only increase my urges.
  • I value myself more than my disgusting habit.
  • Fresh air smells far better than smoke.
  • Each cigarette I don’t smoke increases my willpower.

Finding healthy things to do instead of smoking or vaping

You spent a whole lot of time smoking or vaping. Now that you’ve quit, you have extra time. Fill that time with healthy pleasures. You need a substitute for what nicotine did for you before. This list can get you started, but add to it.

  • Go to the library and ask for a recommendation for a terrific novel.
  • Spend some time in a hot tub, a warm bath, or a steam room.
  • Take an afternoon nap.
  • Go to a sporting event.
  • Go to a movie and have some popcorn.
  • Take a walk outside.
  • Make a batch of chocolate chip cookies (you can deal with the calorie issue later).
  • Take a yoga class.

Quitting smoking is hard to do. Healthy pleasures can refill your stock of resolve.

Boosting your metabolism after you’ve quit smoking or vaping

Okay, you stopped smoking or vaping. Outstanding! However, nicotine revved up your metabolism, and now the nicotine flow has stopped. This makes weight gain a real possibility. To combat that problem, you can do the following metabolism boosters:

  • Drink lots of ice water. Your body uses up energy to warm the cold.
  • Engage in strength-building exercises two or three times a week. Muscle burns more calories than fat.
  • Add a high-intensity workout to your exercise routine. High-intensity workouts burn lots of calories. Plus, your metabolism remains high for a while after your workout.
  • Set a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day. Get an activity tracker like a Fitbit or use an app on your phone (like the Health app on the iPhone or the Google Fit app on an Android phone).
  • Eat green chili. Okay, this won’t burn up a lot of calories, but it’s kind of tasty. Oh, and red chili works well, too! You may burn fewer calories than you consume, but chili is a low-calorie food.

Getting a good night’s sleep when you’re going through nicotine withdrawal

Nicotine is a powerful drug. Although it’s a stimulant, eliminating it often doesn’t make sleeping easier. Many people experience a paradoxical effect from nicotine withdrawal and have difficulty sleeping. Here are a few tips for you to improve your sleep:

  • Turn down the thermostat. Most people sleep better in a cool environment. Of course, if you’re the rare person who does better in a warm room, turn it up!
  • If you have repetitive thoughts about how awful it is not to sleep, start a meditation practice. Meditation helps people detach from troubling thoughts. In addition, remind yourself that not sleeping is something you’ve dealt with before and you can deal with again. The less you catastrophize about not sleeping, the better you’ll do.
  • Reserve your bed for sleeping. Your brain needs to associate your bed with sleep. It can’t do that if you work, watch TV, stare at your phone, and read in bed.
  • Consider experimenting with a sound machine or app. Many people find that basic white noise blocks out annoying extraneous sounds. Others prefer the sound of moving water, nature, or ocean waves.
  • Get up and go to bed at the same time most days. Your brain can also associate a certain time with sleep. Even if you get a bad night’s sleep, it’s a good idea to get up at your regular time. And stick to the same schedule on the weekends.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Charles H. Elliott, PhD and Laura L. Smith, PhD are clinical psychologists with years of experience treating people with emotional problems, including addictions. They are authors of a variety of For Dummies books including Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies and Borderline Personality Disorder For Dummies.

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