After a recent chat with Tracy (you may recall Tracy’s journey to becoming a non-smoker on our blog) we’d discussed how long her nicotine cravings normally last. She’d said that when she has them, which are super rare now thanks to her switch to vaping, they last around 2 minutes when. She’d mentioned that she knows they last around this amount of time, and if she can get through 2 minutes, the feeling to crave nicotine will go away.

This led to a pretty extensive research session, beyond reading some snippets on Reddit, I wanted to find some ‘actual’ research which discussed nicotine dependance and how long a typical craving lasts.

Well, I found the answer in a research paper published by The Journal of Neuroscience back in 2005, which had used mice as test subjects (if you’re against animal testing, you probably shouldn’t read it).

It found that the mice had an average of 180 seconds of nicotine craving, which means that if you can fight just three minutes of cravings, the feeling will subside and you’ll be one step further towards kicking the sticks.

Three minutes isn’t a long time! What can you do in 3 minutes to occupy yourself whilst the cravings subside?

  1. Pick up your ‘todo’ list and add some dates for completion. It’s shown that organising your daily life can be both relaxing and mentally stimulating, which is great for mental wellness!
  2. Clear the rubbish off of your desk and your desktop. If you’re at work, this is a great one. We’re definitely visual beings and we all need to understand that mess (of any kind, physical and digital) can cause a great deal of mental mess and unwanted stress. Even if you’re OK with not being tidy, give it a go. You may be surprised.
  3. Do a 3 minute breathing exercise. I personally love this one, after using the ‘Headspace’ app, a 3 minute breathing exercise can help clear your mind and reset it, allowing you to focus on the days tasks in hand. Set a timer for 3 minutes, close your eyes, breathe in through you nose and out through your mouth. This is especially great to do whilst you’re craving a cigarette, as you can pull focus away from that and focus on simple things like the sounds around you, or the smells, or the feeling of your lungs inflating and deflating – breathing that nice clean air.
  4. Delete all social media applications from your phone. This ones a funny one, perhaps not something that you’d like to do if you’re especially ‘connected’ to social media – but downtime from the social stratosphere can help wellness. Social media has become a distorted view of a curated life, and you don’t need it in yours. Delete the apps!
  5. Take the time to write down an actionable goal for tomorrow. Whether it be something you can do in three minutes or not, write it down and set a goal for tomorrow – do something you’ve been putting off for a while, you need to do it anyway, so might as well start by thinking about it now whilst you’re craving a cigarette. For me, I spent the time mentally calculating how much money I was saving by not smoking 20 cigarettes a day (£9 a day, £63 a week, £252 a month, £3024 a year!)
  6. Watch this three minute video on how to identify a stroke. This one might seem like a weird one, but it’s 3 minutes and at the end of it you’ll be better prepared for potentially saving someones life. How many people can identify a stroke? After three minutes, you’ll be able to!
  7. Eat Breakfast – If you’re the type of person who skips breakfast because you don’t have enough time in the morning. Think again. Your brain has just woken up from a fast and it’s not engaged to deal with the day ahead. Spend three minutes eating something. Think something which is high in protein and ‘good fats’ like oats, peanut butter on toast – or even a piece of fruit, like an apple or banana. Your brain will thank you!
  8. Spend some time sending a quick message to a loved one. This ones a great one for me, as I know I don’t speak enough to relatives. I spend three minutes writing a quick message to my grandma letting her know how her great-grandkids are doing and how many eggs we’re getting from our free range hens. It takes less than three minutes, but sometimes I’ll drop her a quick call to have a chat. It’s good to talk!

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