They say that idle hands are the devil’s tools and certainly for long-time smokers, quitting means there are several more minutes, maybe even hours in the day to fill. For those with busy enough lives this may come as a blessing, but for many in the process of giving up cigarettes, keeping mouth, hand and brain occupied can be an important part of the battle against craving for a cigarette. Here are a few ideas about keeping yourself busy when the idea of a cigarette pops into your mind.
Keeping your hands busy
• Jigsaws, crosswords and puzzles can keep your hands busy as can items such as worry beads, elastic bands or stress toys to fiddle with
• Download some new apps onto your phone. There are plenty of simple games out there that will always keep you occupied for a few minutes until a craving passes
• Sewing and knitting are productive ways to keep occupied and have something to show for it. “Hey, I made this cardigan in the time it would have taken me to smoke 60 cigarettes!”
• Drawing and painting will appeal to the artistic quitting smoker. Learn a new skill and take your frustrations out on canvas
• Playing cards will keep your hands occupied and, unless you play card games for one, will give you some company to take your mind off nicotine. Darts and dominos are other quick and easy ways to keep those hands active
Keeping your mouth busy • Snack on low-calorie foods rather than opting for a cigarette. Be careful about what you eat though, weight gain is something that turns many smokers back to the habit after a period of giving up
• Sugar-free gum and mints give you a taste kick. Gum in particular will keep you going for at least the time it takes to smoke a cigarette
• Fresh juices and smoothies are a treat and the cost will add up, but they will increase the feel-good factor as you give up cigarettes and give a further boost to your health drive
• Brush your teeth. They could probably do with a few extra scrubs after years of nicotine and it’ll be nice to enjoy fresh breath all day long
Keeping your brain busy:
• Quitting smoking is mentally tough and you need to keep your mind occupied during times when you would usually have a cigarette
• Get reading more. Whether it’s getting into some of the great novelists or reading the paper, the written word is a good distraction and you’ll be better educated and informed as a result!
• Try relaxation or meditation tapes when the nicotine cravings kick in
• Talk to people more. Chat your partner rather than nipping outside for a cigarette or call up a friend for a catch-up. Many smokers talk about the social side of smoking but quitting and having more time to talk can also help with your relationships and social life
• Keep a diary. Write a blog. Write a book even.
• Find a new hobby. Quitting smoking will free up time and money for you. Use it wisely. Take up a new sport and boost your fitness or sign up for a course.