Quitting smoking can be challenging, but if you know what to do when a craving hits, you’ll be ready to conquer any urge. The 4Ds are a good guideline to follow when you desperately want a cigarette. The order we show them is a general guideline, so modify it to work for you.
The moment the craving hits, tell yourself you can have a cigarette in 10 minutes. Then when the 10 minutes are up, tell yourself what a good job you did and challenge yourself to go 20 minutes. Any craving will go away in a few moments as long as you don’t keep thinking about it. After you delay, the next thing to do is . . .
In fact, get up and get a glass of water as you’re telling yourself to wait 10 minutes. And you want to drink water, not pop, coffee, or alcoholic beverages. First, while you’re quitting, your body is trying to get rid of the toxic materials you’ve inhaled all these years, and it needs water remove the junk from your system. Second, for many women, other drinks are triggers to smoke, especially coffee and alcohol. Third, the water will change the taste in your mouth and help to break the craving.
Please don’t make the excuse that you don’t like water. You can filter it or flavor it with fruit or small amounts of fruit juice. Find what works for you, and do it.
Do something else.
Your success in quitting may be determined by how well you shift your focus when you have an urge to smoke. The more you think about a craving, the worse it will become. After you’ve had your glass of water, find something else to do. If you were watching TV, move to another room and read a book. Take the dog for a walk. You need to break the association with whatever you were doing when you felt the craving.
Try keeping a bag of entertaining distractions with you, which could include puzzle books, books, art projects, or needlepoint. The main thing to remember is that you need to abruptly and quickly change what you’re doing and thinking to survive the craving.
This step can be done at any point in time, as many times as necessary. Deep breathing will release endorphins, which will help you feel better. It will also show you how well your respiratory system is healing during your quit. Take at least 10 deep breaths in through your nose—your stomach will move if you’re truly taking deep breaths. Exhale through your mouth with pursed lips, as if you’re kissing someone. Blow out hard, and imagine you are forcing out all the air in your lungs.
The 4Ds will feel awkward at first, but as you get used to them, you’ll find they are very helpful during cravings.