Smoking cravings can resurface even years after quitting, especially during times of stress and anxiety. Positive situations can also trigger the desire to smoke as ex-smokers had associated cigarettes with relaxation. Research shows that avoiding smoking can help reduce anxiety and improve mood in the long run. Physiologically, smoking raises stress levels by increasing blood pressure and heart rate.
Ex-smokers who relapse often recall their first cigarette after a long period of abstinence. Even though it tasted bad, it led to more cigarettes and eventually, a return to smoking. The reason for this lies in the dormant nicotine receptors in the brain, which become “active” and demand nicotine when smoking starts. When someone quits smoking, the body undergoes nicotine withdrawal, leading to strong cravings and other symptoms. Completely stopping smoking is the only way to ensure that these receptors remain inactive.
Smoking addiction also involves a psychological and behavioral aspect, as cigarettes become intertwined with emotions and daily routines. Quitting smoking takes time and effort, and various events can trigger thoughts of cigarettes as a response to something missing in the moment.
7 tips that will help you not to go back to smoking:
- Remind yourself of the reasons why you quit smoking and write them down. Keep the note somewhere visible, such as on the fridge or in your wallet. Refer to it during challenging moments to boost motivation.
- Recognize situations that trigger the desire to smoke, avoid them as much as possible, and find healthy alternatives to fulfill that need.
- Use active distraction when the urge to smoke arises by engaging in activities that prevent smoking.
- Incorporate exercise into your routine as it helps manage stress and increase the success rate of quitting smoking.
- Practice deep breathing and explore other relaxation methods like mindfulness, yoga, or pilates.
- Affirm to yourself that you don’t want to smoke and seek support from family, friends, coworkers, and professionals.
I slipped up and smoked a cigarette, what can I do?
Relapses are common during the journey to quit smoking. Practice self-forgiveness and learn from the experience to prevent future relapses. Consider enrolling in a program for professional support to increase your chances of success.