Most people have a morning routine. Whether it’s sipping a cup of coffee or listening to talk radio on the drive to work, we adopt daily rituals to get our days started.
But if you’re quitting smoking, mornings can be challenging. Remember, smoking is a physical, mental, and social addiction so if you are used to having a cigarette with your morning coffee or while walking the dog, these morning activities can be triggers that make you want to smoke.
Bill Blatt, Director of Tobacco Programs at the American Lung Association, offers these useful tips to change up your morning routine and avoid urges to smoke.
- Getting the morning started without a smoke starts the night (or days) before.
First, remove reminders and triggers of smoking. Do a thorough house and car cleaning to remove cigarettes, ashtrays, cigarette odors, and other reminders. Second, if you live with someone who smokes and is not quitting at this time, make a plan so you're not tempted when they light up. Ask them not smoke in front of you, at least during the toughest parts of your quit.
- Think about your morning routine: when and where did you smoke?
Was it while reading the newspaper at the kitchen table or on the drive to work? By taking note of these triggers, you can develop a plan to avoid or modify them.
- Mix up your morning schedule.
If you’re used to waking up and having a cup of coffee with a cigarette, try taking a shower first or feeding the cat before that cup of joe. “You can cut down on your triggers, if you do things a little bit out of the ordinary,” says Blatt.
- Change up your breakfast menu.
If you’re used to having a cigarette with orange juice and toast, try tea or hot water with lemon, and oatmeal, eggs, or yogurt with fresh fruit. Even swapping out the same mug you use everyday or where you sit can help alter the ritual.
- Rise earlier to go outside for a walk or to exercise to get your circulation going.
An early morning exercise routine will give you energy and focus for the rest of the day.
- If driving to work is linked to smoking, try a different route.
Turn on the radio and sing along to a song. “You can’t smoke while singing, and before you know it you’ve avoided the temptation,” says Blatt.
- If you're idiling at a traffic light and spot someone in a nearby car smoking, you may feel an urge.
Remind yourself that you’re no longer a smoker. Then focus on the reasons why you’re quitting: maybe it’s for your kids, to save up for that nice vacation, or to improve your health. Remember this: the urge to smoke will go away in three to five minutes, whether or not you smoke. Let the time pass.
Every morning that you stay smokefree is a victory on your journey to a smokefree life. Congratulate yourself! “Take it one step at a time,” says Blatt. “Don’t worry about the next day, the next 20 years. Just keep taking it one day at a time.”