Quitting Smoking: A Discussion of Trigger Cycles

Quitting Smoking and Knowing it’s triggers

Many people don’t try to conquer all of these triggers at once, but just developing the skills for one type is helpful, because the skills can be used against more than one type of trigger. Here are a few triggers:

  1. Your nervous system knows how often you smoke, and when your smoke breaks are. The first trigger cycles will come when you miss your first regularly-scheduled hit of nicotine. Ignore it, and it will go away. When your next break comes, the trigger comes with it, perhaps louder than ever, depending on your habit. Although the time frame will vary, we can call this one the three-hour trigger. Common weapons against it are deep breathing, celery sticks, and soda straws.
  2. The next set of triggers is the daily cycle, and it depends on when you start to smoke. Some people light up first thing in the morning, and sometimes it happens in the car going to work. Whenever it happens, the urge to smoke will be waiting on the doorstep to your consciousness. Chew gum, recite poetry, listen to a new radio station, whatever it takes; after a week or two of conquering this urge, it should get easier. Other manifestations of the daily cycle are after lunch (take a walk) and getting off of work (have dinner planned, and ready to start cooking, or meet a friend at a health club.) A cigarette before sleeping? Read a good book. Or start writing one.
  3. The weekly cycle can be more challenging, as you face possible alone time over the weekend and the moods that can go with that. Affirmations and mantras may help, or perhaps even a visit or two to a social group that is quitting together.
  4. The monthly cycle includes such things as paying the rent, or child visitation rites. Preparing a budget can help, or planning a park visit well in advance. (Have alternative activities planned if the visitation falls through.)
  5. Seasonal triggers include such activities as eating with your family on Thanksgiving, which may require prayer or at least a meditation session beforehand. If family holidays are a challenge, prepare for it. Try to find out who will be there so that you can be ready for Uncle Joe, who always forgets that you got divorced, and asks why you didn’t bring the kids. Rehearse an acceptable reply. Bring a lot of love with you, and talk to everybody, so that no one will think it odd when you escape after a couple of hours. Be sure to plan something that you really look forward to afterward.
  6. If you make it through December, then you have come a long way, but you are not there yet. Triggers remain that can shoot your non-smoking program in the foot.
  7. Some people have relationship cycles. They begin relationships too soon with people that they don’t know well enough. Persisting through many months, maybe two years, there is inevitably a point where both sides have to admit that it isn’t working, and that triggers an emotional bath that can only be addressed with a cigarette. Instead of being Mr. or Ms. Kool, have some different conversations with your new love interest. Ask them if they are interested in getting married down the line, or are they just out to have a good time? Ask them what they do for a living, and whether or not they are married. Ask them how they feel about children. Those questions should stave off a lot of trouble, and cut a painful relationship off in the bud. Or, also likely, start a good friendship. If you are looking for a long-term relationship, then perhaps you are looking in the wrong venue. Try an online match service to find a like-minded individual.
  8. Death in the family, a disaster like a flood, or the loss of a home, can test your mettle as a non-smoker. You will need all of your skills in place and operating if you make it through a crisis without a smoke. That isn’t to say that you won’t, however. Non-smoking skills are good living skills, and you can’t have too many of them. If you develop the skill of coping with stress with reason instead of nicotine, then that can be habit-forming as well.

If you’re ready to quit right now, make sure you learn more about this quit smoking program. It works for most people and can start working as early as 8 days.