Knowing my triggers

Knowing your triggers is the first step in dealing with them. Knowing your triggers helps you stay in control. You can avoid situations that might trigger your urge to smoke at first and then apply other coping mechanisms later.

Smoking is more than a physical addiction to nicotine. People who smoke develop powerful psychological and emotional attachments to cigarettes, and associate smoking with certain situations, people, places and feelings. Without thinking, daily habits, routines and activities can trigger the urge to smoke.

Triggers are the things that make you crave a cigarette, like your morning coffee or stressful situations. If you understand the times or the things that trigger your cravings, then you can learn how to deal with them without lighting up.

Knowing is half the battle. Do you want to save your choices or add your own? It is easy and free.

What are your triggers?

  • Alcohol is strongly linked with smoking for many people, and it is best avoided for the first couple weeks until the intense cravings pass. If you are going to drink, try drinking less and drink a different beverage than you did when smoking. Also drink alcoholic beverages with non-smoking friends and in new places. Consider non-alcoholic alternatives.
  • If possible try and avoid social situations with other smokers. We are not asking you to cut loose your smoking friends, just to take a temporary break so you are not tempted to join them for a smoke. Spend time with non-smoking and supportive friends.
  • Avoid the people you used to smoke with whenever possible, especially in the first few weeks of your quit. Let all your friends know you are quitting and ask them to support you by not smoking around you. Spend time with non-smoking friends early in your quit to avoid temptation and smoking associations.
  • If you’re used to smoking a cigarette when you drink coffee, you begin to associate even the smell of coffee with smoking. Practice taking your coffee break without having a cigarette. Keep your hands busy by nibbling on a healthy snack, drawing, or writing. Try drinking your coffee more quickly and then going for a short walk or changing rooms.
  • Stress is a major reason why people smoke. Cigarettes contain chemicals that make you feel more relaxed and alert, so you may rely on cigarettes when you are stressed. Finding new, healthy ways of coping, is absolutely essential to long term success. Think about what situations are stressful for you, and plan for how you will deal with them.
  • If you used to smoke after eating, change your routine. Leave the table when you finish your meal and go for a walk, try having an after dinner candy instead of a cigarette, or brush your teeth. Know whether certain foods or mealtimes are triggers for you. Avoid these foods for a while, and start new routines for those difficult meals.
  • If you usually step outside to smoke a cigarette during a break at work, stay inside instead. Do a few simple exercises such as deep knee bends or stretches. Spend some time with coworkers that you don’t smoke with.
  • If you’re used to smoking when watching TV, try changing your routine. Sit in a different chair, eat different snacks. Keep your hands busy by eating a healthy snack, sipping water or juice, or knitting.
  • If you are used to smoking when you are out for a walk, alter your route, explore new areas or visit places you don’t normally go. Try going for a walk with a non-smoking friend.
  • Many smokers smoke while driving to stay relaxed, alert, or to pass the time. Before you quit, practice driving short distances without smoking. Remove all cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters from your car, and clean it. If you share a vehicle ask if it can be made smoke-free. Bring low calorie snacks along such as veggie sticks, fruit, sugarless gum or candy, and drink water.
  • Many smokers are used to starting each day with a cigarette. After you quit, it will be important to establish a new morning routine. Try drinking a couple glasses of water when you wake up. Plan a specific activity first thing to keep your mind and hands busy and distracted like some exercise. Make sure no cigarettes are available.
  • You may be used to smoking when you are bored. Try planning more activities than you can actually do to keep busy. Bring something to do when you need to wait such as a book or game on your phone. Keep active.