If you’re like the thousands of other Americans who were laid off due to COVID-19, you’ve probably been bored out of your mind for several months. If you’re a smoker, this inevitably means that you’re falling into your habit and likely experiencing some difficulty in quitting. After all, when you’re bored, what else is there to do but light one up?
The problem with that is…well, you’re smoking. Smoking isn’t just terrible for your body, it’s also bad for your mental health, your finances, and even your home/vehicle. Let’s take a closer look at a few things you can do instead of smoking. When you feel the cravings coming on, reach for one of these five activities instead.
You’ve sat in the house for long enough, and you’re starting to become a little too friendly with your walls. It’s time to get out and take a walk. You don’t even have to get close to anyone to do so. Visit a local trail, walk around your neighborhood, or just walk around the yard; anything to get your body moving, your blood pumping, and your brain churning.
It’s all too easy to sit on the couch and watch TV and smoke while you eat pizza, but once you’ve packed on the “Quarantine 15”, you’ll wish you hadn’t. Taking a walk gets the blood flowing to your limbs, your brain, and other major organs, which you desperately need if you’re a smoker.
Smoking inhibits not only the body’s ability to breathe in precious life-giving oxygen, but it also compromises your heart’s functionality—increasing blood pressure and putting more stress on cardiac muscles. You must get up and move around, especially when cravings strike.
Sometimes, the best path to leaving nicotine behind forever is simply to ween yourself off of it and cigarettes slowly. You don’t have to cut out nicotine completely at first. Instead, you can opt for products like tobaccoless chew from Black Buffalo or even Nicorette Gum.
Nicotine addiction is a difficult habit to break. The brain becomes chemically dependent on nicotine, and tobacco companies count on this fact—it’s what keeps you a customer for life, in some cases. Breaking the addiction is a major feat, and only a small percentage of smokers ever manage to do it. In fact, more than half of all smokers admit to trying to quit at least once, but the success range falls somewhere between 6 and 15%.
Don’t feel bad if you can’t force yourself off of nicotine all in one go. That’s a nearly impossible feat to ask of yourself. Start by using less, and not getting your nicotine from cigarettes.
Writing can be such an amazing vice for stress, pain, anxiety, and so much more. You don’t even have to write anything in particular at first, just whatever comes to mind. If you feel like journaling, do so; if you feel like creating the next Lord of the Rings, go for it! The possibilities are endless when you pick up a pen or open a Word Document.
Writing has plenty of applications in therapeutic settings, and smoking (and addiction in general) is often linked to some form of unaddressed trauma. Smoking starts out as a way to combat anxiety and pain associated with traumatic events, but quickly evolves into the source of anxiety. Combined with addictive properties, the victim becomes helplessly enslaved to the very thing that’s keeping them anxious.
Writing can help unravel trauma and open up new pathways to recovery. It can help you put nicotine down for good, as well. Give it a try! You don’t need a fancy notebook or laptop; you can write on anything, anywhere.
Playing a musical instrument has proven therapeutic effects on the human brain. Learning an instrument may even help with such conditions as depression. Maybe you’ve always admired the smooth, classy sound of a cello, or the piping melodies of a brass instrument. Perhaps the guitar has always appealed to the rockstar in your soul, or the piano to the Bach in all of us. Whatever the case, taking up an instrument can help cure your boredom and potentially address your addiction as well.
You’ll notice you feel much calmer when you’re playing an instrument. Your hands and your brain are both fully concentrated on what you’re doing, and your progress will help improve your self-esteem. Focus on learning new things and don’t get stagnant. If you’ve learned basic chords and notes, it’s time to move onto something more challenging to keep your interest.
Naturally, this last tip is easier to do when we’re not under COVID-19 restrictions, but it still applies. Getting support from a trusted friend or family member when cravings strike can help you say no. You’ll get to catch up with your loved one, have an engaging conversation, and calm the anxiety caused by your withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly unpleasant, and no one should have to face such a journey alone.