Freedom's Best Crave Coping Tips !

John (Gold)

February 18th, 2001, 2:16 am#1


Freedom's Best Crave Coping Tips!
Each of us have used our own little methods of passing the time during a crave. You may think that your tip, trick or method isn't worth mentioning but it worked for you and it just might work for someone reading this thread . Let's make this thread a shopping cart full of the world's best coping techniques for our Newibes both now and future as they attempt to quit smoking nicotine or stop use of chewing tobacco, cigars, snus, dip, e-cigs (electronic cigarettes or vaping) or break free from nicotine gum (Nicorette) or the lozenge! Who knows, years from now this thread may be pulled up and your tip may help a nicotine addict reclaim their mind, mouth, money, priorities, time and life!

The following is from Chapter 11 of Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home.


Crave Coping Techniques
How do we successfully navigate a less than three minute crave episode?  We've already reviewed a few ways, including reaching for your list of reasons for commencing recovery.

Let's take a look at additional coping techniques.

Embracing crave episodes - Upon sensing danger, our survival instincts tell us to either prepare to stand and fight or get ready to run.  What approach will you use?  Upon encountering a crave episode will you duck and run, or turn and fight? While the objective is clear - to not use nicotine - our natural instincts on how best to achieve that objective may not be the easiest path to travel.

Can we hide from cravings or will they find us?  Can we runaway or will they catch us?  It's the same with going toe to toe in battle, isn't it?  Can we beat-up craves and make them surrender or cry uncle?  Can we scare them away?

Encountering and extinguishing use cues is how we mend, heal, repair and reclaim a nicotine dependent subconscious mind.  It's how we destroy use expectations and take back life. While nicotine is a natural poison, what about craves? Can a crave that lasts a couple of minutes destroy tissues, clog arteries and cause a heart attack or stroke, promote cancer, or contribute to early dementia?

Will a crave cut us, make us bleed or send us to the emergency room? Can it physically harm us?  If not, then why fear it, why run, why hide?

How much of the anxiety associated with recovery is self-induced?  Nearly all.

So, why agonize over the anticipated arrival of that next crave?  Once it does arrive, why immediately begin feeding our mind additional anxieties that only fuel the fire?

Let's not kid ourselves.  The anxiety associated with a craving for nicotine is as real as the eyes reading these words.  And fear of anxiety hides solutions.

While fully capable of mentally embracing a crave episode's anxiety energy, few have ever done so.  Instead, what we feel is a tremendously inflated experience fueled by anticipation, driven by fear, and possibly tense due to a history of prior relapse.

Try this, just once.  Instead of inviting your body's fight or flight response to inflame the situation, when the next crave arrives, stop, be brave, drop your guard, take slow deep deliberate breaths and in your mind imagine reaching out and wrapping your arms around the crave's anxiety energy.

It won't harm or hurt you.  It's normal to be afraid but be brave for just one moment.

Continue wrapping yourself around the episode while fully embracing it.  Continue taking slow deep breaths as you clear your mind of all chatter, worries, fears and thoughts so that you can sense and appreciate the episode's level of raw anxiety.

Touch it, sense it, hug it hard.  Doing so will not make it any more intense than it otherwise would have been.  You're witnessing a moment of beauty, the most profound subconscious healing you've ever allowed your conscious mind to touch.

Yes, there is anxiety.  But possibly for the first time ever, it's not being fed and fueled by you.

Now, feel as the crave episode's energy peak and then begin to gradually subside.  You've won!  You've reclaimed another aspect of life.  And you did so by way of courage not dread, by a hug, not hiding. You've seen that the greatest challenge presented by natural recovery cannot hurt you.  Only we can do that.  Embrace recovery don't fear it.  There's a special person waiting down the road.  Your birthright, it's a long lost friend you'll come to know, savor, enjoy and love.

Distraction coping - Far less courageous, distraction is any mental exercise or physical activity that occupies the conscious mind long enough to allow challenge to pass.

Alphabet or counting association schemes demand some degree of focus and concentration.  They provide an instant means of occupying the mind.  An alphabet association scheme can be as simple as going through the alphabet while trying to associate each letter with a person, place, animal or food.

Take food for example.  The letter "A" is for grandma's hot apple pie.  "B" is for a nice crispy piece of bacon.  "C" is for a rich and moist chocolate cake.  I challenge you to try and get to the challenging letter "Q" before three minutes pass and challenge subsides.

Physical distraction possibilities include turning to your favorite non-nicotine activity, a brief period of physical exercise or something as simple as brushing your teeth.  Activities such as screaming into a pillow, squeezing a tree or biting your lip are available should you ever feel a need to vent.  The pillow won't scream back, I doubt you'll hurt the tree and your lip will heal.

Relaxation coping - Embracing crave episodes is one means of increasing relaxation by preventing the addition of self-induced anxieties.  Meditation is another tool for navigating a cue induced crave episode.Most forms of meditation use breathing and focus as a means to foster inner peace and tranquility.  Research confirms their ability to calm anxieties.

Try this.  Comfortably sit in a chair or on the floor.  Straighten yet relax your spine.  Near the level of your naval, lay one hand in the palm of the other with thumbs slightly touching.  Gently close your eyes.

Now allow your breathing to slow and deepen.  Calm and settle your mind by focusing exclusively upon the feelings and sensations of breathing.  Focus entirely upon that next breath.  Feel the cool air entering your nostrils, and its warmth as you slowly exhale.

When a thought arises don't chase it but instead breathe it away.  Continue focusing upon each breath.  As challenge subsides, allow yourself to become increasingly aware of your surroundings as you slowly open your eyes.Instead of focusing upon breathing, other forms of meditation, such as panic attack coping or mindfulness based stress reduction, encourage exclusive focus upon your favorite color, person or that "special place."

We also should mention laughter.  Research shows that laughter activates various muscle groups for a few seconds each, which immediately after the laugh leads to general muscle relaxation, which can last up to 45 minutes.

Laughter also induces sporadic deep breathing.  There's also evidence suggesting that among those with a sense of humor, that laughter and smiling may result in diminished anxiety and stress.  Remember, this is conditioning that you created.  It's now commanding relapse, the introduction of nicotine back into your body.  Why not give laughter's calming effects a try.  What's there to lose?

Analytical coping - Here, moments of challenge are spent focusing upon and analyzing the situation.  Embracing a crave episode fits nicely here too.

So does pulling out and reviewing your list of reasons for commencing recovery.  Also consider reviewing them when not feeling challenged, so as to help keep your motivational batteries fully charged.What cue triggered the episode?  While we can't know for certain, what's your best guess?  What activity, emotion, person, place or time will you likely be awarded once this episode passes?

Look at a clock and time the episode.  How long did it take before its anxieties peaked?  Is that shorter or longer than your last challenge?  How long had it been since your last significant challenge?Consider keeping a crave episode log.  They make interesting reading.  Like medical records, they allow us to quickly look back and see how far we've come.  A log can prove valuable while waiting for the final recovery layer to pass, conscious recovery. It's here that the pace of noticeable change will naturally begin to slow.

Oral coping - Oral coping is a form of  crutch substitution.  It is capable of itself fostering use conditioning which results in continuing crutch use long after all challenge has ended.  Using food as an oral crutch can obviously add extra pounds.

All oral coping strategies should be avoided, especially any that imitates use or the handling of any object that imitates your nicotine delivery device.

Imitating any addiction related behavior helps maintain that behavior, delays suppression of old use memories, invites use fixation, prolongs recovery and thus elevates risk of relapse.

If you find yourself reaching for something more substantial than a toothpick or toothbrush, make sure it isn't fattening, that will always be available within seconds, and something you'd be able to do anywhere and anytime for years to come.  As Joel suggest, about the only thing that meets that definition is slow deep breathing, which passes air through the mouth.

Consider eating healthy if having difficulty avoiding reaching for extra food.  Can you eat an entire apple in 3 minutes?  If so, that's 80 calories and 4 grams of fiber.

Five asparagus spears are 20 calories, one medium sized stalk of broccoli is 50, a seven inch carrot is 40 calories, one-sixth of a medium head of cauliflower or two medium stalks of celery total 25 calories, a medium cucumber is 45 calories, a medium orange 80, one medium peach is 40 calories, seven radishes total 20, eight medium strawberries are 70, and one medium tomato is 35 calories.


Last edited by John (Gold) on February 18th, 2014, 3:58 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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BlueFlame

February 18th, 2001, 4:34 am#2

This might sound crazy but it sure helped me....when a craving hits I close my eyes and go through the alphabet, thinking of a food for each letter. (A=apple, b=banana, etc.) I first was encouraged to do this by my doctor to help me relieve my migraines without drugs and have found that it also helps distract me from those pesky cravings. The more detail you can think up for each food, the longer this little exercise takes and the more likely you are to be fully distracted from your craving....and if anybody can tell me a food which begins with X I'd be really grateful! :^)

--BlueFlame (!M,1W,5D,21H)
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Hal(Gold)

February 18th, 2001, 4:59 am#3

I found a great article on cravings that I printed out and have it on the side of my computer:
CRAVINGS
Smokers and exsmokers both have cravings.
The smoker smokes to push the cravings away temporarily
The exsmoker accepts the minor discomfort of craving to get the reward of not smoking.
One trades short term relief for long term memory.
The other accepts short term discomfort for long term freedom.
Im glad I am making the latter choice.

NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF
Hal 2M 2W 6D
Last edited by Hal(Gold) on March 16th, 2009, 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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JanieB Staff 1

February 18th, 2001, 5:20 am#4

Hey Zep,
I assume you mean crave coping without food...huh?...LOL
My best technique was to take slow deep breaths while
I focused on my reasons for quitting,
and my disgust with my addiction.
Janice
P.S. for Blueflame
how bout x-tra sauce?
or
x-tra rare prime rib?
or.....
Last edited by JanieB Staff 1 on March 16th, 2009, 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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mirigirl (silver)

February 18th, 2001, 6:25 am#5

Well if you are talking about the first 72 hours...you know what I did??

I almost LIVED at this Freedom notice board... breakfast lunch and tea...and in the middle of the night... and on my way to the bathroom!!

Just readin, reading, reading, don't know that i did a lot of posting... but I remember printing off a lot of the threads or posts from Joels Library or ZepS Why Quit Com.....and so when I wasn't actually AT the computer I was reading anyway.....

I became determined NOT to make the same mistake I had been making for years..... many many many failed "Quits"....heartbreaking, no more....

All the time thinking ...please God..help me to
NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!!

(EVERY little bit of Freedom helps! Finally realising that I could actually Quit! I could do it..and I am!! How amazing!)

YQS Maz
Four weeks, 9 hours, 27 minutes and 6 seconds NICOTINE FREE!!
709 cigarettes not smoked, saving $227.15. Life saved: 2 days, 11 hours, 5 minutes.
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freeflight silver

February 18th, 2001, 8:17 am#6

My best food tip is one I learned in an article about a year ago. When my fav fattening, not very good for my health foods come to mind, I try to picture them in dull shades of grey. Then I try to picture a substitute food that is healthy in glowing, radiant colors. Then I try to experience the healthy food by taste, sound..is it crunchy, smell and before long I'm reaching for the healthy choice instead of the unhealthy one and I feel better about myself. For example, Zep if you were to picture, smell, taste,hear(so okay you can't hear sorbet...lol) sorbet or sherbet instead, then your choice would not only be healthier but you would have put more time into expecting it, and so you senses would be more satisfied. Sometimes this even causes me to not want to think of the fattening food because it now seems too much. Just a thought that has helped me. Example for me is when I had my eye on lots of chocolate for valentine's day..I made myself think more about raspberries and what happened was that I ate mostly berries..a little cool whip with chocolate shavings. Cutting downonthe calories, but still being satisfied.
Last edited by freeflight silver on March 16th, 2009, 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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freeflight silver

February 18th, 2001, 8:27 am#7

This also applies to our quits as well. The more I picture the good checkup results, hear praises from my quit friends, smell the freshness of the clear crisp air and taste the foods I couldn,t before...the less I want to think about hacking up after lighting a stinking illnees producing sickerette...lol
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freeflight silver

February 18th, 2001, 8:34 am#8

What I'm trying to say in a very round about way, I guess is....
Experience the positives of your quit to the MAX and using all your senses!!!! Make it REAL!
Last edited by freeflight silver on March 16th, 2009, 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joel

February 19th, 2001, 7:05 pm#9

My best crave coping tip?

It is to never take another puff!

It may not get rid of a specific crave at the time, but for a person who used to be pack a day smoker, it will prevent close to 7,300 craves per year from ever happening again. I think that makes it a pretty powerful tip.

Joel
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hannes (gold)

February 19th, 2001, 7:23 pm#10

My best crave coping tip - was to go to the whyquit.com site & witness the personal horrors of smoking - it stopped my crave in zero time. However, when I am not near a computer or am at work - a hunk of peanut butter on a spoon eased the crave.
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terri96019 ( SILVER )

February 19th, 2001, 11:09 pm#11

The long,long,long hot bath was what help me the best.I would lay in there until I could feel myself relax.Also keeping busy everytime you get a crave.Keep moving around doing things.Terri
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John (Gold)

February 25th, 2001, 12:34 am#12



Replacing Crutches

Be careful that your crave coping tool is something
you can do all the time without creating additional
problems.  The last thing any of us need is to develop
a crutch that creates new problems in our lives.
Be sure to read Joel's above article about crutches.

Last edited by John (Gold) on February 18th, 2014, 2:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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improud (golder)

February 27th, 2001, 4:26 am#13

My craving buster is NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF and I DON"T DO THAT ANYMORE besides being on this site every minute that I can.
Last edited by improud (golder) on March 16th, 2009, 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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maid n oz (Gold)

March 9th, 2001, 10:08 pm#14


A great tip for beating those cravings is having a few 'really graphic' photos at hand or quick reference on your computer of a cancerous lung, mouth and throat. Cancers caused by cigarette smoking. And/or maybe someone with a form of Circulatory Disease. That's really attractive. While you're at it, if you can find actual tape of a patient with emphysema, especially, a young patient with emphysema, I guarantee it will kill the strongest craving. These people are dying slowly and in absolute agony. Works for me.

Kelli
Last edited by maid n oz (Gold) on March 16th, 2009, 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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maid n oz (Gold)

March 9th, 2001, 10:17 pm#15

I've got another good one.
If you have a dirty ashtray handy whether it be in your car or home, put your nose in it and breathe it in. It's disgusting but it actually works.
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John (Gold)

March 16th, 2001, 8:23 pm#16

Embracing Craves
All my life I was conditioned to either stand and fight or turn and run when faced with challenge. If you're a newbie, then chances are there is another habit trigger waiting around the corner that will soon generate a short yet powerful anxiety attack that we call a crave. The habit trigger could be an emotion, time, event or place where, or during which, you used to **** warm nicotine laden air into crying lungs in order to replenish your blood's rapidly falling nicotine level.
The good news is that most habit triggers are reconditioned and discarded by our subconscious mind with just a single encounter. The good news is that the triggered crave will only last a few minutes. The good news is that the anxiety power of our crave generator is fizzling fast, and with each encountered crave there is one less trigger to recondition. The good news is that the reward of total and complete comfort is just down the road. The bad news is that if you're a newbie then there is probably another crave just around the corner. But is it bad?
So what approach do you use? Do you duck or run when you sense one coming or do you turn and fight? Is your game plan working to your satisfaction? Our objective here is simple - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF, but our natural instincts on how best to achieve our objective may not be the easiest path to travel. Can we hide from our craves or will they find us anyway? Can we runaway from them or will they catch us? It's the same with going toe to toe in battle, isn't it? Can we beat-up our craves and make them surrender or cry "uncle"? Can we scare them away? I think not. Encountering all of our triggers and craves is a very necessary part of recovering and normalizing every aspect of our daily lives. It's true healing!
Tobacco's deadly cargo is clearly a killer but what about our craves? Can a crave that lasts a couple of minutes kill you? Will it cut you, make you bleed, or send you to the emergency room? Can it physically harm you? If not, then why do you fear it so? How much of the anxiety associated with your quit is self induced? Why are you agonizing over the anticipated arrival of your next crave? When it finally arrives will you immediately begin feeding your mind additional anxieties that only fuel the fire?

The anxiety of a crave for nicotine is very real and it's ok to reach out and feel it but most of you have never done so. Not once! Instead, what you feel is a tremendously inflated experience driven by fear, fueled by anticipation, and tense due to a history of prior relapse. Just once, stop running, drop your guard, take slow deep deliberate breaths and then reach out to TOUCH your crave. It won't injure you! It's ok to be afraid but be brave for just one moment! Wrap your arms around your crave. Clear your mind for just one moment so that you can feel the true anxiety of your healing. Make sure that you feel your tummy rising as you take slow deep deliberate breaths into the bottom of both lungs. Clear your mind of all chatter, worries, fears and thoughts so that you can sense and appreciate exactly what this crave is like.

Touch it, hug it, feel it, sense it! You won't make the anxiety one bit more intense than it otherwise would have been. You're witnessing part of the most beautiful healing that your body and life may ever experience. Yes, there is anxiety there but for the very first time it's not being fed and fueled by you. Feel it's strength slowing begin decaying. Take pride in your healing. It can't hurt you, only you can do that! Enjoy your recovery don't fear it! Embrace your craves! Enjoy your journey home! There is a very special person waiting at the other end!
Last edited by John (Gold) on March 16th, 2009, 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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quit4good

March 16th, 2001, 9:47 pm#17

Wowsers Zep! Thanks for this post...today of all days. For some reason the past few days have been full of anxiety and stress which have triggered a few urges.

Hugs,
Amy
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John (Gold)

March 27th, 2001, 3:56 am#18

Review Your List of Reason's for Quitting !
Keep them in your purse or wallet!
Last edited by John (Gold) on March 16th, 2009, 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Triin (GOLD)

March 27th, 2001, 6:19 am#19

I lived through some of my worst cravings by living on the Freedom site (for several several hours), and searching all the information I could get about smoking.

Taking walks helped, too. Breathing fresh air.

Horseriding made me forget about smoking even during the **** week.

When I wasn't hungry, the craves were not so bad.

I tried "not to care" about craves. I was trying not to dive deep into fantasizing about cigarettes. Instead of fantasizing how good one could be I said to myself "I don't care". Later on I could change it to "I don't want". I'm not sure I'm expressing it understandably...

Triin
I have been Quit for: 1M 5D 6m 32s. I have NOT smoked 720, for a savings of $49.51. Life Saved: 2D 12h.

P.S. Suzanne T, I would love to join your party of meditation tapes but I doubt I could find them from Estonia. So you are still on your own...
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Gaby

March 27th, 2001, 9:10 am#20

I just buried myself in my job during the day and kept busy until bed time in the evenings. I also drank alot of water, ate mints, chewed gum and most of all I made myself a daily promise. "Today I will not take a puff" This has worked daily for a period 2M 3W 4D 19h 11m 58s. I have NOT smoked 1695, for a savings of $288.32. Life Saved: 5D 21h 15m. This is an awsome experience and I am so proud of myself.
Last edited by Gaby on March 16th, 2009, 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Feezy (Gold)

April 22nd, 2001, 7:35 pm#21

The most practical thing for me at first was to drink lots of water whenever a craving struck. I used to almost chain-smoke while sitting at the pc, so drinking water helped a lot when I was glued to this site in the first couple of weeks!

Now I'm starting to exercise again, and that feels so good that just thinking about it makes me more determined to never take another puff. Running up the stairs is also a good one - to remind me that I couldn't do that without being severely out of breath when smoking.

Fee - 1 month, 1 week, 1 day
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Dida (Gold)

April 22nd, 2001, 9:59 pm#22

Best tips:
1. Go for a brisk walk and imagine the oxygen cleaning out all the **** that you put in....sort of like a vacuum cleaner.
2. Clean your teeth with a flavoured toothpick.
3. Go to the zoo and watch the animals - they sure as heck don't need to smoke.
4. meditate with a mantra: I will not smoke today....over and over till you calm down.
Diana
3 weeks, 2 days, 14 hours, 41 minutes
236 cigarettes not smoked!!!
19 hours, 40 minutes of life SAVED and put to better use
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Sarita

April 26th, 2001, 2:43 am#23

I really liked what Zep had to say, so I'm bringing this back up to the top for the newer folks especailly. Please post what is working for YOU.

Sarita @ 2 months, 2 Weeks & 6 Days
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mals

April 26th, 2001, 4:48 am#24

Memories (horrible ones) of my 72 hour withdrawal period keeps me from ever taking another puff. Don't get me wrong - I do think about them once in a while - like it's weird to not go home, reach for the phone and light up - but I can't .....just can't go through those hellish 3 days ever again and that keeps me clean!
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Heike (silver)

May 12th, 2001, 11:02 am#25

I've been very lucky with my cravings, but the couple of really bad times, I posted to the board immediately, had a good whinge, a good cry, felt sorry for myself, read the replies, another good cry and the world was a much better place!
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