Today is the Great American Smokeout, the day that the American Cancer Society hopes will be the first smoke-free day for more smokers.Does quitting for just one day make a difference? The latest studies say yes; a study out this week showed that smokers aged 65 and older who used to smoke 3.2 packs a day and kicked the habit, were able to lower their risk of heart disease to that of a non-smoker in an average of eight years. That should be motivation for the 43.8 million Americans who light up. But if you decided to give up the cigarettes, even for a day, and still find yourself wanting a smoke, consider these stand-ins instead.
1. Chew on carrots: Having a quick snack can squash nicotine cravings. But make sure your food-based substitutes are low calorie, like fruits and vegetables.
2. Distract yourself: Find friends who are supportive of your decision to quit, or go to a party where you can talk to multiple people and get your mind off your cravings. If you associate parties and gatherings with smoking, this may be tougher, but it may also be helpful in training you to re-focus on making more social connections at parties and not on the opportunities to light up.
3. Snap yourself out of a craving: This is the tough love strategy. Wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it whenever you consider picking up a pack. While you recover from the sting, remember all the reasons you decided to quit in the first place, and why they are worth the effort.
4. Break a sweat: Exercise can be an ally in overcoming overeating and depression, and works for fighting addictions too. For some, stress drives smoking, and exercise can have the same calming effect as lighting up in response to anxiety. Even going on a walk can release feel-good endorphins. If you start to feel and look good, you’re less likely to want to add tobacco back into your daily routine.
5. Take a shower: It’s distracting, and it can put you in a better mood. There’s nothing like that clean feeling on the outside to make you feel clean on the inside as well.
6. Light incense or a candle: Need to light something up? Use your lighter for something other than a cigarette.
7. Turn up the music: Let your mind wander away from your need to smoke with soothing, relaxing tunes — or get up and dance. Either way, it’s a good way to celebrate your first day of being smoke-free.