These are some ideas for helping people avoid smoking that you might wish to consider – they’ve all been suggested by real people, but in the context of mental health. Some ideas might seem ridiculous, but others might work. Different people find that different things help, and it isn’t failure if you try something and it doesn’t help. You will be able to add things which you have discovered.

Expressing feelings

Letting it out physically

• Scream as loud as you can
• HIT a cushion / punch bag / throw a cushion against a wall
• Smash a water melon
• Kick a football against a wall
• Squeeze ice really hard
• Squeeze a stress ball
• Tear up a newspaper/phone directory
• Play loud music and dance energetically – be as wild as you like
• Spend some energy - go for a walk/swim/go to the gym/ride a bike/go running

Trying to work out how you're feeling

• Ask yourself “Do I feel ANGRY?’ ‘Do I feel anxious?’ ‘What about?’
• Write a letter to someone you’re angry with (hurt by etc.) saying how you feel (No need to send it.)
• Write a list of your achievements
• Write a letter to yourself saying ‘I love YOU because….’
• Make a list of things you’re thankful for
• Make a wish list

Talking about it 

• Talk to a friend
• Allow yourself to cry (if you can)

Using your creativity

• Draw / paint / collage / paper mache / finger paint / sculpt in clay - to express what you want to do or what you are feeling
• Write a poem / story / song / joke / autobiography / parody / musical
• Write a DIARY / journal or read old diaries (unless there might be triggers)
• Scribble a word again and again to say how you’re feeling e.g. ‘lonely’, ‘angry’
• Deface a magazine (preferably your own)
• Take some photos
• Play an instrument / Sing to music as LOUDLY as you can
• Put on music which expresses how you are feeling
• Write out the soundtrack to your life if it were a film
• Imagine a colour which expresses your feelings then change it in your mind to another colour
• Make a memory box / scrapbook
• Write an alternative ending to a story
• Watch a foreign language channel and make up your own interpretations
• Create your own cartoon characters / legends
• Create a SECRET CODE

Comforting yourself

• Have a bath or shower
• Stay in bed
• Use aromatherapy oils
• Eat chocolate (or whatever)
• Have an ‘emergency box’ with whatever helps you cope
• Buy something special
• Massage your hands / arms / feet
• Stroke a pet / cuddle a teddy
• Ask a friend to hold you
• Paint your nails / Have your hair done
• Have a cup of tea
• Rock / hug yourself
• Give yourself a henna tattoo
• Meditate / yoga

Distracting yourself

Leisure activities

• Watch television / video / DVD
• Play on a computer
• Go on the internet
• Learn a new skill (juggling / making balloon animals)
• Do puzzles / play chess / make your own puzzles
• Origami / make jewellery
• Sew / knit
• Go through a photo album
• Design a dream house
• Have a debate
• Build a card house
• Make a paper chain of the days its been since you last smoked (add a new one everyday)
• Find out how to put 8 queens on a chessboard without any of them being able to kill each other (There are 92 possible ways to do this)
• Make a T-shirt
• Look for pictures in the clouds

Getting out and about

• Sweep the path
• Wash your car
• Do some gardening
• Go for a drive
• Go to an arcade or playground
• Make a kite/fly a kite
• Get on a train and go to the sea
• Look at constellations

Being productive

• Catch up on DIY / housework
• Cook/bake something
• Have a clear out – give your old stuff to charity
• Re-arrange your room/decorate
• Read/study
• Give your pets a bath
• Volunteer somewhere
• Join a class
• Think about what you’d like to change about your life and make a plan

Reasoning with yourself

Write a list of reasons to avoid self-harm. The list will be different for each person - it's whatever makes sense to you. Look at the list when you feel like smoking.
It could include things like:�
“I’ve managed for two weeks without smoking. I don’t want to start again”�
“Once I start it’s difficult to stop”�
“I’ll regret it afterwards”�
“If I can hang on, the need to smoke passes”� 

Adapted from: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/PDF/Self-Harm%20Distractions%20and%20Alternatives%20FINAL.pdf

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