Okay, so I've really started reading here and this community is great - thanks so much to everyone who's contributed such thoughtful ideas on quitting, it's super helpful for noobs like me. Here's what's happened the past week. Basically it was a classic start-and-fail week that I've let myself slip into so often in the past. I had such great intentions that went by the wayside as my triggers started going off. My three big takeaways from this week are:
1) I need a new "keystone habit" that can be a new productive thing around which my other habits can improve too. I bought a bike yesterday that's on it's way, so my plan is to take advantage of the warmer weather to start biking more regularly. This is also motivated by my noticing that the times recently when I've gone longest without cigarettes - most recently 5 days while on a visit to see my significant other's family - have all involved biking as the regular exercise.
2) I need better strategies for tackling my cravings and triggers. From reading posts on here it's clear (or seems clear, at least) that the process of quitting is basically all about the mental game after a short couple days (which feel like an eternity...) of nicotine withdrawals, and succeeding in the mental game basically means succeeding day-after-day at weathering the storm of cravings. I think the main reason I failed this week is because I don't have any clear predetermined plan for tackling my cravings - which makes a brief couple hours feel like they stretch on for years, and which means I'm basically white-knuckling my way through. Does anyone have any tips for getting past cravings?! As context, I've smoked for the past 5 years and the longest I've gone without cigarettes for those 5 years was two weeks (after which I said "just one..." and there it went...). So my challenge is still getting past the early first few weeks, during which it feels like there's no "ebb-and-flow" of cravings and instead just feels constantly pretty miserable ("no end in sight" kind of thing).
3) I need to identify triggers ahead of time and have a clear predetermined plan for how I'll get past those cravings. Does anyone know any posts on here about mapping triggers and preparing to beat them ahead of time? For me the biggest triggers are - morning right when I wake up (normally I'll have coffee and at least a couple cigarettes); around lunchtime when I've gotten some work done and I feel I deserve a "break"; during the afternoon during the workday and I also "deserve" breaks; when I'm walking to or from a subway (or just generally walking around outside) I feel the habit/instinct to have a cigarette (or two, or three...); and at night if I'm at my apartment I feel a craving to break the gaps of time before sleep by going outside to smoke throughout the evening. In writing all that, it seems like having "dead time" or "blue sky" time that's unstructured or just working is generally just a bad situation to be in - even if I'm working, time feels like it goes by longer, the cravings are right in front of my face the entirety of the time, and I think a common-denominator trigger is just wanting a change of scenery or something else to do besides what I'm doing that moment.
Thank you all for connecting with me on here and for writing comments on my last post! I really want this community to be a real tool during my quitting process so if anyone has tips on how to invest more in this community please let me know in the comments. (I've technically been a member on here for several months but I've only recently started reading the posts and deciding to bring my own challenges here too). Thanks again!