Triggers are everyday feelings, activities, or situations that make you want to smoke. Everyone has their own triggers. Knowing yours helps you stay in control and make a plan to beat the cravings to smoke.
Emotions often act as a trigger for smoking. Certain feelings may remind you of smoking to enhance a good mood or distract from a bad one. Learn how to cope with your feelings without leaning on cigarettes.
- Stressful situations: Stress is a normal part of life and some people use smoking to cope. But smoking doesn’t reduce stress – it actually increases blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension. Try healthier ways to deal with stress such as exercising, listening to music or talking to a friend.
- Feeling bored: People often crave a smoke when bored. Quitting can be a good time to take up new hobbies or activities. You’ll have more time on your hands, so why not explore your interests?
Certain settings can act as a trigger for smoking. Social triggers are situations that often include other people who smoke. You can avoid situations that might trigger your urge to smoke at first and then apply other coping mechanisms later.
- Social events: Going to a party, bar, concert or other place where people may be smoking can trigger you. It’s best to avoid places where people will be smoking. It will get easier over time, but in the beginning, take a temporary break from people who use tobacco, so you aren’t tempted to join them.
- Friends who smoke: Avoid temptation by staying away from people who use tobacco. Let your friends know that you are quitting and ask for their support by not smoking around you.
Activities in daily life can be trigger for smoking. A pattern trigger is a specific activity that you connect with smoking, so when you engage in that activity you may feel like you want a cigarette. Learn ways to cope with these.
- Coffee and alcohol: Consider avoiding coffee and alcohol for the first few weeks of your quit. Or try drinking less and alternating with different beverages. Since coffee can be addictive too, consider switching to tea or other beverages, so you don’t go through caffeine and nicotine withdrawal at the same time.
- Taking a work break: Find a new routine to get a break at work. Go for a walk, call a friend or spend time with co-workers who don’t smoke. They take breaks too right?
- Starting the day: 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 like some exercise. Make sure no cigarettes are available.
- Driving: Before you quit, give your car a good cleaning and remove all the cigarette butts, lighters and other smoking reminders. Stock up your car with snacks like veggie sticks, fruit, sugarless gum or candy, and keep lots of water on hand.
- Meals or watching TV: Change up your routine. Sit in a different chair or keep your hands busy by eating a healthy snack, sipping water or knitting while watching TV. Leave the table when finished a meal and go for a walk, do the dishes, or brush your teeth.