Quitting Smoking: Knowing Your Smoking Triggers

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by Wendy Henderson |

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If you have a chronic lung disease, one of the best things you can do to improve your health and slow down the progression of the disease is to quit smoking. However, after years of smoking, it can be extremely difficult to break the habit. One of the ways to help yourself conquer your nicotine addiction is to recognize some of the triggers that make you want to smoke so you can try to avoid them.

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According to smokefree.gov, smoking triggers generally fall into four categories: emotional, routine, social and withdrawal. Each category may need different approaches.

Emotional Triggers
Smokers will reach for their pack of cigarettes to help deal with a variety of emotional issues, both good and bad. Stress, joy, happiness, anxiety, nervousness, boredom, sadness, anger, relaxation, loneliness, and excitement can all be smoking triggers. To successfully quit, you will need to look at alternative ways to get you through these emotions, and some may be more difficult than others, particularly negative emotions.

Deep breathing, going for a walk, talking to friends, exercising or listening to music are all good ways to help you through some of the negative emotions that may have led you to smoke in the first place.

Routine Triggers
There are certain times of day or events that smokers associate with smoking. After a meal or having intercourse; while drinking coffee or alcohol, driving, talking on the phone, or watching television; during work breaks; and before going to bed are all common routine triggers.

Replacing cigarettes with something else is a good way to help you quit smoking. Eating gum or sugar-free candies, occupying your hands with something such as knitting, sewing, a fidget spinner, or a stress ball can help you overcome the physical act of smoking. Avoiding alcohol and coffee in the first few weeks may help to avoid these triggers, and brushing your teeth directly after eating may take your mind off wanting to smoke. Physical activity can help to distract you and may be useful during work breaks or other set times that you would usually smoke.

MORE: Seven foods for eating well with a chronic lung condition.

Social Triggers
Being around other smokers during those first few weeks after quitting will likely cause you to crave cigarettes. Opting to spend time with non-smoking friends for these important weeks is a good idea, as they won’t be able to tempt you and are more likely to support your decision to quit. Avoid bars, parties, and other social events where you will be surrounded by smokers and ask friends and family who do smoke to respect your decision and not to smoke around you.

Withdrawal Triggers
Nicotine is an addictive substance and it will take a while before you get over withdrawal triggers. As well as the tobacco and nicotine addiction, you will often feel restless and want to do something with your hands and mouth. Cravings can often be short-lived so distraction is the best way to get through them. As time goes by, your cravings will ease up and become less frequent. If you are really struggling with withdrawal symptoms, you can speak to your doctor about nicotine replacement products.

MORE: 10 questions to ask your doctor or nurse about COPD

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