If you’re a smoker in self isolation then there’s no better time to quit the habit. We know that smoking can make the symptoms of #COVID-19 worse. However if you quit now your lung defences will begin to heal and you’ll have a better chance of fighting off the virus.
No matter how long you’ve smoked, from the moment you quit smoking, your body starts to heal itself.
Quitting whilst in self isolating/in lockdown especially, won’t be easy and you may not have access to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as patches or gum.
To help support you on your quit smoking journey, we’ve come up with some tips on how to cope with cravings whilst self-isolating.
1. Phone a friend
The support and encouragement of friends and family can be the difference between quitting smoking for good and falling off the wagon.
Thanks to modern technology we can all keep in touch with our loved ones – even under lockdown. Tell family and friends that you are planning to quit smoking and ask if they will be on hand with words of encouragement or to pick up when you’re feeling low when needed.
One idea could be to set up a Whatsapp or Facebook group with friends and family who can be your quit smoking buddies, checking in on your progress and motivating you to keep going. It’s in their interest for you to quit smoking and improve your health so they will want to get on board.
There may be other members of your family or social circle that also now plan to quit. If so join forces and decide to embark on the journey together.
Exercise has been shown to be one of the best ways to cope with cigarette cravings and quit smoking for good.
It acts both as a distraction and a mood-enhancer, releasing endorphins that can help to combat those quit smoking blues.
During the Covid-19 outbreak it won’t always be easy to get exercise outdoors. However, there are plenty of ways to keep active indoors. YouTube offers a huge selection of online exercise videos – from yoga and Pilates to fast paced keep fit – including live sessions. Build exercise videos into your daily routine and when you feel a craving coming stick one on.
If you have a garden get outside and start digging up those borders, jog on the spot or do some skipping. If you have children play a game of catch or jump on a trampoline.
3. Change your routine
When smoking is part of your daily routine, your brain associates certain times of day with lighting up, triggering nicotine cravings.
You may for instance, have always smoked after your first cup of coffee in the morning, or outside by the backdoor after dinner in the evening.
It’s important to break the cycle of cravings by changing your daily routine and reducing the triggers that tell your brain you want a cigarette.
Lockdown or self-isolation, when life as you know it changes completely, provides an opportunity to change your daily routine to one which doesn’t include smoking.
4. Distract yourself
Keeping busy is crucial when it comes to giving up smoking. You may be working from home which will provide some distraction.
Anything that keeps your hands busy is particularly helpful – as it can replace the habitual hand to mouth action of smoking.
If you enjoy knitting, gardening or cooking, playing online games or puzzles, those are great ways to distract yourself from the thought of cigarettes. Alternatively, why not try a new hobby – ideally one that doesn’t require you to leave the house to buy any equipment. Learning a new language via YouTube or using an app such a Duolingo could be a great way to keep your brain busy and distracted during this period of confinement.
Quitting smoking is stressful at the best of times, let alone while self-isolating or on lockdown. You may find yourself feeling anxious as you crave the relief of nicotine, particularly if you are somebody who usually smokes to alleviate stress.
To combat those feelings and resist the urge to reach for your cigarettes, its very important to find other ways to relax.
Breathing exercises are particularly helpful – try the 4-7-8 technique, breathing in through your nose to the count 4, hold your breath for 7 seconds then breath out through your mouth to the count of 8. Or simply breath in through your nose counting from 1 to 5 then breath out through your mouth to the count of 5 again.
Alternatively follow a guided breathing or meditation session on YouTube or try a bit of yoga.
6. Reach out online
When quitting smoking becomes challenging, it may help you to know that there are plenty of others in the same boat as you. Smokers across the world will be making the wise decision to finally ditch the habit for good in wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
So, reach out online via social media channels and online chat forums to share your experiences with other. To find other smokers in Wales who are in the process of giving up join ASH Wales’ Quit Smoking (Wales) Facebook group.