The 5 Ds for Smoking Cessation

These Tips Will Help You Manage Most Cravings to Smoke

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Nicotine withdrawal is an intense phase of smoking cessation. It can include everything from physical symptoms that mimic illness to feelings of sadness and seemingly nonstop thoughts of smoking. Understanding what to expect when you quit smoking and having a plan to manage the discomforts that come with early smoking cessation keep you in control and headed for long-term success.

The Five Ds of Smoking Cessation

The five Ds is a set of tools that will help you quickly respond to the majority of smoking urges you'll encounter in a healthy way. Memorize them and get in the habit of checking to see whether your cravings that come along fit into any of them.

The five Ds are:

  • Delay
  • Distract
  • Drink water
  • Deep breathing
  • Discuss

1. Delay

Delay until the craving to smoke passes. Cravings are difficult, but they usually pass fairly quickly.

Most urges to smoke come and go within three to five minutes.

It may feel like your day is one long craving when you first quit, but the truth is that smoking urges really are relatively short in duration. They come often during the first several days after you stop smoking, but with practice at choosing other ways to deal with them rather than smoking, they'll begin to fade.

2. Distract

Distract yourself. Shift your attention away from thoughts of smoking—go for a walk around the block or work on a crossword puzzle. Distraction effectively stops the unhealthy mindset that enables thoughts of smoking. Left unchecked, those thoughts can cause you to spiral downward, so try to stay busy.

3. Drink Water

Drink water to beat cravings to smoke. It works surprisingly well. Nicotine withdrawal is hard on your body, and good hydration will help to ease the negative effects. You'll feel better both physically and mentally.

4. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is a quick and effective way to reduce the stress that comes with early smoking cessation.

Close your eyes and breathe in slowly for a count of three, then exhale for a count of three. Repeat and you'll begin to feel your body release the tension it's holding.

Stress is a bit of a double-edged sword for new ex-smokers. We used cigarettes to deal with the stress in our lives, so when we quit, stress causes strong urges to smoke for most of us. At the same time, the early days of quitting create their own stress as well. Learning how to manage stress on the spot is critical, and deep breathing does just that.

5. Discuss

Discuss your feelings with someone close to you or with other ex-smokers in an online smoking cessation support forum. There's nothing better for your resolve than connecting with those who are walking the path alongside you or hearing from those who have navigated smoking cessation successfully.

Knowing What to Expect Helps Success

When you know what to expect from nicotine withdrawal and recovery from nicotine addiction in general, you can develop a plan of attack to tide you over when the going gets tough. The five Ds should be a part of that plan.

Take your quit program one day at a time and trust that you'll find your way through recovery from nicotine addiction, just as others have before you.

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