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Diary of a Mad Ex-Smoker: The Problem With Mary.

  
  
  

The Problem With Mary

I quit smoking seventy-two days ago, and for the first time I'm not sure I'm going to make it.

I smoked proudly for fifteen years. I started as an occasional smoker, but over time I needed more and more nicotine (I later learned that most addicts develop dose tolerance to their addictive substances). By the time I quit, I was smoking three packs per day, every day. I smoked during meetings, while walking or driving or eating meals. I woke up in the middle of the night to have a cigarette, and even kept one burning in an ashtray on the toilet tank while I showered, or on the bed stand while making love. I considered myself a smoker's smoker, and couldn't imagine life without cigarettes. Until I met Mary, that is.

Mary was cool, confident, smart and lovely, certainly out of my league, and  I immediately fell in love with her. I had to have her. There was one problem with Mary, though -- she was a non-smoker. And not  the self-righteous, moralistic type of non-smoker I'd been avoiding for years, either. No, Mary vehemently and absolutely hated tobacco, with a passion I'd never seen. Tobacco had killed her mother, and she held a big-time grudge against it. She made no bones about her refusal to date any smoker, ever.

My self-image hung in the balance. If I entertained any notion at all of hooking up with Mary, I would have to quit smoking. Telling myself that I'd stay quit only long enough to win her heart, and resume smoking sometime after that, I went online to look for quit-smoking info. I registered at a quit-smoking website, picked a quit-smoking date, and announced to everyone that I was quitting -- including Mary, who hugged me at the news!

Being a heavy smoker, I figured I was in for a rough nicotine detox, but decided to quit cold-turkey, anyway. Partially because I wanted to be tough about quitting, but also because it cost $50 for a hundred count of nicotine gum. $50! Never mind that a carton of smokes runs almost twice that; I needed them. Besides, the drama of a severe withdrawal could maybe get me some special attention from Mary... .

Day One wasn't bad at all. I fidgeted a lot, and drummed my fingers madly against things. I kept putting my hands to my mouth, expecting something to be there for me. I sucked on a ton of Lifesavers, but had no overwhelming urge to smoke. Quitting seemed do-able.

Day Two  was a little more intense. Mary called to cheer me on and tell me how proud she was of me. My nose started running a bit, and I developed a headache. Felt like I might be coming down with a cold, but suffered only a few severe cravings to smoke. Despite the physical discomfort, and trouble getting to sleep at night, I thought that people were making too big a deal out of quitting smoking.

By Day Three I was a space cadet. I laughed uncontrollably, as if I was stoned on acid. Colors seemed very intense, and my brain raced wildly with bizarre thoughts. (My doctor later said I was experiencing a sustained rush of new oxygen to the brain). My whole body ached, and someone at the quit-smoking website wrote that I'd probably contracted the 'Quit Flu'. I obsessed non-stop about either smoking or not smoking, and became painfully aware of every lit cigarette within sight or smell.

And then a blow to my motivation, on Day Four: Mary left the country with her family, and wouldn't be back for two months! So much for her shoulder to lean on while I quit. A part of me whispered, "You can smoke now and re-quit later, and she'll never know," but I decided to soldier on and have more smoke-free weeks quit under my belt when she returned.

By Day Twenty I was already feeling better. I still wasn't sleeping much (my sleep patterns wouldn't stabilize for another month or two), and I was coughing up a lot of brown goo, but the flu-like symptoms were gone and I was going hours at a time without thinking about a cigarette.

And so it went. I sailed through my quit, noting one surprise benefit of quitting after another. Sleep deprived or not, I felt more alert and like I was really in my body. I took morning walks, and during one of them I suddenly wanted to run. It was exhilarating! I joined the Y, and started lifting weights. I wondered why people seemed to be wearing stronger cologne and perfume lately, until I realized that my sense of smell was returning. When I did have a smoking urge, I logged in to my quit-site and distracted myself. I finally stopped spitting up old lung tar, too, and noted that my wallet always had a lot more cash in it. Why had I never tried quitting before? Doing so had triggered changes in many areas of my life; I even made a couple of new ex-smoking friends, and began thinking of myself as an ex-smoker.

Until this morning, that it is. Mary got back from her long family vacation and introduced me to Mark, her new boyfriend. That was bad. Worse, he reeked of cigarettes! Filthy, stinking cigarettes. I was stunned. After a short, awkward silence, I blurted out something like, "Glad to meet you and by the way I'm still not smoking," and beat a hasty retreat.  I felt betrayed. What was Mary's problem? Why would she sell out her values for love? How could she do this to me, after I'd changed my smoking life to be with her (though I never did tell her that, truth be told)? My thoughts turned to smoking. "I'll show her," I resolved. "Screw this quit."

So here I am on Day Seventy-two, and my motivation for quitting is gone. I'm at the convenience store, counting out bills for a pack of my old deadly comfort. In walks one of my new ex-smoking friends. She smiles, sees the pack and the wallet in my hands, and looks at me, silent. "They're not for me," I reply to her unasked question. In that moment I get some clarity. Cigarettes really are not for me, not any more. I'm about to punish myself because I'm upset with Mary? How can I blame her for selling out to follow her heart, anyway? Hadn't I sold out my smoking values to follow mine? Hasn't that been working out pretty well for me?

My quit isn't about Mary, and it never was. She may have been my inspiration to change, but it was my decision and my effort that got me to this place. The benefits of my new, healthier lifestyle are mine alone. I've earned them, and I'm not going to throw them away just because I got my expectations dashed.  

I hand the cigarettes back to the clerk and buy a roll of Lifesavers, instead. I walk out of the store with my friend, still smoke-free. I didn't get the girl in the end, but I got a lot more than I expected. Seems I'm the fish I've been trying to catch all along (and quitting smoking was the hook).

KTQ,

Alan Q, CTTS-M


 

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Journaling Your Way To A Successful Quit

  
  
  

 

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As you begin your quit smoking journal, you may be wondering, "How will I quit smoking?" Journaling is a private way to vent and record how you feel under moments of stress, happiness, joy or frustration.  There are no rules to follow; use a notebook, scrapbook, diary or your computer or tablet. Use your creativity. Include your favorite slogans, poems or affirmations.  

Imagine for a moment: Anytime you have a thought about your quit, good or bad, you can record it. Journaling is most effective when done regularly. Write for several minutes at a time, and do not stop writing to edit your work. Your journal can be kept private or you can choose to share with others.  

QuitNet offers a Q journaling tool, available under the My Quit tab. The journaling tool includes a new QComic to greet you each day.  You can choose to make your journal visible to other Qmembers or keep it private.  

Here are 5 ways journaling can help you with your quit:

1. Define your purpose for quitting

Journaling allows you to reflect. For example, observe your smoking patterns. Ask yourself, "How many cigarettes do I smoke a day? When do I tend to smoke less?  Do I smoke more when I am bored?"

On another day, list what you like the most about smoking versus what you like the most about quitting.  Create another column and list what you like the least about smoking versus what you like the least about quitting.  Compare your responses. This is an effective evidence-based exercise called The Decisional Balance. It will help you decide why you want to quit smoking. Here are some other suggestions for journaling:

-Write about the vision of your quit.

-Write about lessons learned from previous attempts and what would you do differently. 

-Write about the people or life experience that has motivated you to quit.

Stay focused on your quit

Journaling will help you stay focused.  Write down your reasons for quitting.  Review your reasons daily.  It will help you stay strong. Determine if you want to journal in the morning or right before bed.  If you want to make additional lifestyle changes such as losing weight; devote a journal entry about it. 

If you belong to a QuitNet forum or a QuitNet club, write about your experience (i.e., connections with other members, finding a quit Q buddy); include anything that will inspire you, such as another quitster's Q testimonial or suggestions, quotes, poems. The choice is yours!  

Journal your way through a craving

Each time you have a craving, grab a pen and write about something else (i.e., write about going to the beach, your next vacation, a party or fun event you went to). The key is to keep writing about a topic that will keep you distracted.  Empower yourself to work through this alone, especially if your support network is not available. Cravings typically last several minutes; overcoming a craving will help you develop a non smoker image, greater confidence and higher self-esteem.

Track your progress

Monitor your progress.  If you are cutting back, maintain a smoking log. Write down every time you are triggered to smoke and how you handled the situation.  Keep track of your savings.  List ways to reward yourself.  Document your treatment plan. Reflect on how you feel.  Make reminders of when your dosage changes. Include how many days you've been quit. 

Utilize the QGadget together with your journal.  The QGadget will automatically compute the lifetime and money you'll save by quitting (a quit date has to be entered for calculations). Devote journal entries to reflect on your stats!  Document any recommendations made by your doctor, including the quit smoking medications you are using.  If you have discontinued a medication, write about what worked and what did not work.  If you are not sure you want to commit to a quit date, write about your reasons. Discuss what information would help you make a decision.  Journal the steps to obtain the information you need.

Manage your stress

If you are stressed about quitting, consider writing about these stressful events.  It will help you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health. Listen to music while you journal. Write about how good you will feel after you quit.  Write about the immediate health benefits and your strong reasons for quitting.  After writing, you will feel in a more relaxed state. Review your previous entries, and notice your progress.

In conclusion, journaling is a therapeutic method that will help keep you close to your quit.   It can be very liberating. You will feel a sense of control over your quit.  Rereading your entries can be empowering and offer insight and understanding about yourself and your quit!

JanetQ

Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist

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How QuitNet Helps You Quit Smoking For Good!

  
  
  

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Are you in the process of planning your quit? Are you overwhelmed and not sure where to begin? Are you going through withdrawal symptoms and not sure where to get answers? Quitting smoking is an empowering and life-changing experience. Taking control of an addiction involves some commitment.  Make QuitNet part of your quit plan.  QuitNet will help you set goals and keep you informed about the quitting process.  Every member can benefit from QuitNet's Community, Expert Support, and Resources.

Do you have limited social support for your quit? As a QuitNet member you have access to thousands of other members. You can interact with them through 10 forums, 98 clubs, Qmail, and chat rooms. Former smokers are always on standby, ready to answer questions, in the QuitStop forum. You can ask them about their quits.  Create friendships and find a quit buddy. Let them know how they can help you. 

The QuitNet community holds virtual events like bonfires and pledges that you can participate in, and commit publicly to keeping your quit. As a member of QuitNet, your Qmunity is there to support you! It might not be long before you say to yourself "this isn't so bad." You will find yourself with an abundance of Q social support. 

Need advice from a Q Counselor? Help is available in the Ask an Expert forum or through 1-2-1 Counseling (under the Expert Support tab onsite).  Post a message in Ask an Expert Forum and a trained Tobacco Treatment Specialist will respond to your question.  Other members can see your questions and the responses.  You can also read previous posts, thus increasing your knowledge about the quitting process. If there is a post you would like to keep you can add to your library.  If you prefer more privacy, your other option is to send your question by 1-2-1 counseling and communicate through qmail.

Expert advice is also available through Expert Qchat, offered twice a week.  Members have the opportunity to interact directly, in real-time, with QuitNet Expert counselors and each other -- as well as occasional Special Guests.  Previous topics include Tools for Smoke-Free Socializing, Making Healthy Choices and Keeping Your Quit during Holiday Triggers.

Avoid boredom and play a QGame! Enjoy some humor and read a QComic. Need more information?  QuitNet has put together a variety of resources to help you.  There are downloadable QuitGuides and MedicationGuides.  If you are not sure what medications to use, try the recently updated Medication Wizard; it will assist you in deciding which medication is best for you. Find links to more quit resources and information. Read the latest Tobacco News or read a QBlog here.  QBlogs are written by our Q Counselors covering a variety of topics.  

As you can see, there is light at the end of the tunnel! Quitting could be easier than you think, and you do not have to quit alone.  QuitNet has a variety of tools to help you quit for life. Stay close to the Q and protect your Quit! Keep The Quit! 

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JanetQ

Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist

Keep Going and KTQ!

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The Best Reasons To Reward Your Quit!

  
  
  

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Quitting smoking is an empowering and life changing experience. Taking control of an addiction involves your complete commitment. As you move through this quitting process it’s important to recognize and reward your accomplishments. Doing this builds confidence and reinforces a positive attitude towards quitting.

You are more likely to remain smoke-free if you attach a positive response to saying ‘no’ to any thoughts of smoking a cigarette. Rewards for not smoking are best when they are experienced short term. If you pass on a strong urge to buy a pack of cigarettes, or reach a one month smoke-free goal, then reward yourself. Have lunch with a friend; go to a movie, etc. After awhile, you will associate these pleasurable moments with not smoking.

Many smokers say that they smoke because they enjoy it and when they quit they feel deprived and miss their cigarettes. Cigarettes were a reward for a job well done. Cigarettes were like a constant companion, there through thick and thin and could always be depended on to feel better.  Smoking is often associated with a good time; some smokers say it makes a good time better. If you found smoking pleasurable then you will need to find other sources of enjoyment in your life. A good way to support your new nonsmoking life is to try introducing different activities or hobbies. Join that class you’ve always wanted to take, or start that exercise program. Choose something you find fun. Eventually activities that you linked to smoking will be enjoyable again as a non-smoker.

You probably found that smoking cigarettes reduced anxiety, increased concentration and quelled your appetite. Nicotine has a dramatic effect on the brain's reward system, conditioning you to want more of this drug that relaxes, energizes and improves mood.  When the nicotine was taken away withdrawal symptoms occurred and the rewarding effects disappeared. Change your reward pathways away from nicotine by rewarding yourself regularly. Treat yourself with the money you saved not smoking. Get some pampering, a massage, pedicure or haircut. The rewards need not be costly. A walk on the beach, curling up with a good book, a scented candle and relaxing bath all help to relieve stress and manage cravings. Acknowledge the changes you’ve made in your new smoke-free life and continue to reward yourself for making it to this point! 

KTQ!

BetteQ TTS-M

 

 

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Give Yourself The Best Gift Of All ~ Keep Your Quit!

  
  
  

gift of not smoking!No matter how busy you are this holiday season, be sure to keep your quit going strong! Around this time of year, some quitters may find themselves losing momentum. You may be second guessing your reasons for quitting, or feeling overwhelmed by a seemingly endless to-do list. Rest assured, life is not getting in the way of your quit; this is life! Moving forward as a nonsmoker means keeping the quit regardless of what is happening to you or around you.

Reaffirm your commitment to keep your quit going no matter what. Make sure your quit stays your number one priority. Reflect on why being a nonsmoker matters to you, how far you have come and what it took to get here. If you do have a craving or weak moment, address your feelings! What do you really want? Are you seeking comfort, reward, assistance, sleep, enjoyment, social interaction, or a break? Stress free living requires flexibility. There is nothing wrong with giving yourself permission to change plans or take a time out to relax. Celebrate the new habits you have worked so hard to put in place. You have made it this far, so that means you have a successful smoke-free daily routine in place. Acknowledge how awesome you are for quitting smoking. You did it - you actually did it this time! You are amazing, and so is your quit. 

Reviewing your quit progress and celebrating your accomplishments ensures your continued success during stressful times. Staying motivated will help prevent relapse. Remember that at this very moment, you are Quit!  Congratulations! Cherish your quit and commit to spending the holiday season as a nonsmoker this year. As a nonsmoker, you continue to gain:

  • Healthier lungs
  • A reduced risk of cancer 
  • Increased longevity
  • More energy to enjoy life  
  • A healthier smile and fresh breath
  • Better immunity to fight off colds and flu
  • More money to spend on things you need or want
  • More time to spend doing things that matter to you
  • More time with the people you care about
  • Freedom from guilt or pressure about smoking; you're finally free!
  • Increased self confidence
  • Fresh air around you, your home and your vehicle
  • Prettier skin
  • Improved mood
  • Decreased stress

Those are a lot of gifts to appreciate. Keep giving yourself the best gift of all; a smoke-free life! Keep up the good work, keep going, and KTQ:)

Happy Holidays to you and yours,

Vikki Q.

CTTS-M Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist

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Choose to Have the Best Smoke-Free Holiday Season!

  
  
  

 

Don't stress, KTQ!That wonderful holiday season is here again. Will yours be filled with joy, good company, relaxation and time off work? Or will it be filled with traffic, crowds, stress, too little time, overspending, overeating and wishing it were all over with? Holidays can be a big relapse trigger, so consider today a great day to set yourself up for success.

The secret to having a fun holiday is giving yourself permission to do Only Things That Are Fun, Relaxing And Wonderful to You! This year, commit to saying 'No' to anything you don't have a heartfelt interest in doing.

Choose your activities wisely. Take some well-deserved time off. Do whatever you feel like doing. You may want to just hang out in your house alone for once. Maybe you're a 'go out and mingle with the crowds' person; here are some smoke-free things you could do:

  • See a movie matinee with a friend.
  • Enjoy a pedicure or manicure.
  • Drive through decorated neighborhoods, stop for dessert on the way home.
  • Go to dinner somewhere new.
  • Visit someone special.
  • Volunteer wherever your heart leads you (hospital, animal shelter, elderly neighbor, local shop).
  • Buy yourself new, warm flannel sheets and sleep in!
  • Go out to breakfast by yourself. 

Plan ahead. Actively think about and choose how you want to spend your time! Learn to say 'No' to things that pressure or obligate you needlessly. Say 'Yes!' to an enjoyable and rewarding holiday season, and give yourself the gift of Happiness, today and throughout the coming year.

Happy Holidays, and KTQ! 

Vikki Q CTTS-M; Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist

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The 3 Best Ways To Keep Your Quit Through The Holiday Season

  
  
  

file000176706079[2] The time of the year from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day is loaded with triggers to smoke. A successful quit depends on your ability to remain focused on your goal of a smoke-free life. This is no easy task, especially for the newly quit. The holiday distractions and being with people in places where you used to smoke can lure you back into old habits and lifestyle. Be prepared and get your game plan in place before the festivities begin.

Keep Your Stress Levels In Check

Holiday travel, traffic, shopping, finances, and family issues can pile on the stress and trigger strong cravings to smoke. Do your holiday shopping early and stay within your budget to prevent debt-incurred stress. Homemade gifts or planning a family draw for a gift exchange will keep the costs down but still express the sentiment. Plan your trips, give yourself plenty of time, and avoid travel during busy traffic hours. Exercise is one of the best stress reducers, so get moving daily to boost your mood, relieve tension and any urges to smoke.

Family members grow, move away, pass away, and sometimes hold grievances against one another. Try to be accepting and understanding. If you find yourself getting stressed at a holiday gathering, just step aside and take a breather by going for a walk and getting fresh air. Or simply take in a few deep breaths, hold, and slowly release.  Make sure you take some alone time if the holiday cooking, cleaning, and entertaining are getting to you. A hot relaxing bath or listening to soothing music may be all you need to quiet your mind, focus inward, and calm down.

Don't Overindulge In Food Or Drink

Food often seems to play the biggest role in holiday celebrations. Tables are laden with family members' favorite recipes. Expect the temptations to be looking you square in the eye and make the decision beforehand to enjoy in moderation. If you let yourself go hog wild, it may be easier to give in to other temptations or find yourself craving a cigarette to squelch the over-stuffed feeling in your stomach.

Stay away from or limit drinking alcohol. Your resolve not to smoke dissolves the more you drink, making it easier to slip back to smoking without thinking. Alcohol is a smoking trigger for many, so stick to juices, club soda with a splash of cranberry juice, apple cider or water with lemon. Have a plan in place on how you will navigate your way around the table and bar. Promise yourself a reward for getting through the holiday event smoke-free. By not overindulging in food and alcohol you will remain in control, able to make wise decisions and stay strong in your quit.

Seek Out Support

Going to gatherings or parties where others are smoking can be challenging when you are quitting. It's beneficial to let your friends and family know ahead of time you have quit smoking and ask for their support by not smoking around you. Keep your distance. Watching others smoke can trigger strong cravings to light up. Move away from smoking situations and socialize with nonsmokers.  Go outside for fresh air at times when there's no avoiding the smoke. If possible bring a nonsmoking friend or support buddy with you to the holiday event. There's no need to quit alone; with a Smartphone you can always find online non-smoking support 24/7 at QuitNet in the forums or chat rooms. Getting through the holiday season with your quit intact is absolutely do-able with careful planning and support!

Happy Holidays and KTQ!

BetteQ CTTS-M

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The Great American Smokeout's Impact on Our Culture

  
  
  

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In lieu of a written blog this week, I thought it would be nice to include a history of the Great American Smokeout, which has brought millions of smokers into smoke-free living. The story of how the Smokeout has shaped public perception throughout the years is a fascinating one, and many of us literally owe our lives and our health to the people who made it happen:

ACS Smokeout Story

Thanks to the American Cancer Society for this account.

KTQ, and Happy GASO,

Alan Q, CTTS-M

 

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3 Rules For Surviving Arguments Without Tobacco

  
  
  

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For many of us, the first reaction to any conflict was a cigarette or a dip. Tobacco seemed to level us off, cool us down, help us focus during or after an upsetting situation. We shouldn't be surprised if we find ourselves getting angry more often, or getting more angry often, after we quit tobacco. Some of us seemed to be in all kinds of disagreements for awhile after quitting, and have even been asked by significant others to please start smoking again!

We didn't quit smoking just to be angry and miserable, did we? And we certainly don't want emotional firestorms to jeopardize our quits. The good news is that we can manage confrontations without alienating everyone around us, or by turning to the numbing distraction of nicotine. We do this by managing ourselves in tense situations, following these three simple rules:

Rule #1: Remove Yourself From The Conflict (or, It's Ok To Walk Away)

You don't have to go to every fight you're invited to. Trying to resolve conflicts while emotionally super-charged is counter-productive; it's too easy to misread and escalate. Remind yourself that your quit is your #1 priority, and that arguments can be a relapse trigger. You don't have to exit gracefully, just get out of the argument by any means possible. Tell the other person that you're too fired up to continue right now, that it would be a good idea to take a break. Then leave the room, hang up the phone or log out, take a walk. The problem won't just go away, but you won't have worsened it by adding tobacco to the mix.

Rule #2: Get a Handle on Your Emotions (or, Don't Try to Control What You Can't)

Nobody and nothing has the power to make you smoke against your will, so take responsibility for your own feelings and choices. Deep breathing is a stress reliever (we used to do it when smoking, with smoke), so start by regaining control of your breath. Have a seat, and take five to ten deep breaths. Breathe in as much air as you can hold, count to five, and then push your breath out through tightly-pursed lips. If you use any kind of prayer or meditation tools, or affirmations like, Easy Does It, now is a good time to employ them.

 When you're reasonably settled, log in or call a quit-buddy or trusted confidant and run the situation by them. Listen to yourself as you recount the story; we often tell ourselves exactly what we need to hear when we open ourselves up a little to someone else. The humor with which others respond to our crises is often a great anger deactivator. Our friends' similar experiences, or objective observations, can enlighten us, too.

Rule #3: Clean Your Side Of The Street (or, Do You Want To Be Right Or Be Happy?)

Sooner or later, you'll  have to re-engage with the person or situation you were fighting. Nothing frees us more, or resolves conflicts more effectively, than first getting clear on our own part in them. Think over the beginning, middle, and end of the situation, asking yourself:

"Is any of this mine to own? What is my role in it? Is this really an issue important to me, or am I just blowing off steam? Is my anger appropriate to the situation?" We often use anger to cover our own culpability, no matter how small, or to re-direct the anger we feel over someone or something else. Sometimes we're just mad because we can't smoke!

Looking ahead toward a solution to the conflict, consider:

"What is the result I desire most here? Am I trying to punish, or just to be heard? Am I trying to control or change someone else's thinking or behavior? Is there any of my behavior or thinking that needs to change?"

Writing about your thoughts in a journal can help you calm down and see more clearly.

Finally, the most important questions of all:

"What is the best course of action to achieve my desired result? What's my next move, or 'next right thing' that needs to be done here? Do I owe an apology? Do I want to be right, or be happy?"

When you feel ready to move on, stand up and do a nice hard stretch, letting the internal tension release itself. You've done some important work, without an iota of nicotine in the mix.

There's no easy fix for post-quit anger. It just slowly dissipates. We develop new behavioral responses to life the same way we formed the old ones -- one day at a time, one situation at a time. And the best we know how to do is always a little ahead of the best we're able to do, so don't be too critical of your progress.  Practice makes perfect, but it's progress, not perfection, that we should seek.

Alan Peters, CTTS-M

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The 3 Best Ways To Prevent Relapse

  
  
  

prevent relapse; keep climbing!se, climb on!If you have ever relapsed, this blog is for you! A relapse is a red arrow pointing to your unmanaged personal trigger(s). You can avoid a relapse by learning how to navigate through the following high risk situations.

1. HANDLE STRESS LIKE A PRO

One of the strongest relapse triggers is stress. Stress is particularly dangerous for women, but men and women alike have lost solid quits during stressful times. Today is a great day to identify new, smoke-free coping tools to help you relax, step away, let go. By planning ahead now, you will be prepared before you end up in a difficult situation. This is your quit, so get involved! Brainstorm an answer or two for the following statements, and write them down:

  • When I need to relax, I will __________.
  • When I feel stress building up, I will __________.  
  • When I want a reward or comfort, I will __________.
  • When I want to socialize or fill my time, I will _____________.
  • When I need a break, I will __________________. 

If smoking is the only thing you can think of for each item on the above list, that's only because it is only thing you've tried so far! By replacing cigarettes with things that actually do help you diminish stress, you will be able to avoid relapse and keep your quit going strong.

Rethink your stress = smoking connection! Did you know that smoking increases stress levels by causing anxiety, withdrawal and a craving for another cigarette? Smoking prevents you from doing the very things that ease stress, boost confidence, entertain you, and help you feel better. Give other things a chance to work - really work - to help you cope with day-to-day life effectively! 

2. PREVENT BOREDOM   

Avoid sitting in your usual chair, pondering, "What now?" Do something - anything - to occupy your mind! Boredom leads to bartering, slip justification, romancing the smoke, and the ultimate delusion of 'just one'. Fill your time with every activity, task, project and chore you can think of to keep you away from old habitual smoking patterns. Read, do sit ups, call a friend, take a walk, clean a drawer, do your nails, pay the bills, wash the car, clean a closet, bake something, write something, repeat a mantra, watch a movie, drink ice water, make a cup of tea, knit, surf the internet, clean the top of the refrigerator, take a class, follow an exercise video, brush the dog, talk to your kids, do laundry, stretch, deep breathe, make a meal - stay busy, busy, busy! This will prevent your mind from wandering off towards smoking thoughts. Even if a fleeting smoking thought does occur, you can redirect immediately to the task at hand. Also, be sure to find a personal mantra that is meaningful to you, and repeat it often:

  • To inspire myself to keep going, I will repeat this mantra: _________.

3. DEAL WITH OTHER SMOKERS 

At some point, you will have to venture out from your super busy, relaxing, controlled home environment into the real world. There may be cigarette ads on gas station windows, smokers gathered at entryways, or even a friend extending a pack toward you! This is where all of your home practice, redirecting smoking thoughts, repeated mantras, advance planning and new coping tools combine to lead you through temptation.

Avoid going on autopilot! Right up front let friends know you have quit, and thank them for their support. Repeat your quit motivations, repeat your mantra, and keep your hands full and busy. Hold a water bottle, hold your cellphone, hold your car keys, have mints or hard candies in your pockets, chew on a toothpick or straw - do all you can to replace the old habit of holding a cigarette. Last but not least, if the going ever gets too tough - leave! You can't relapse if you are driving away from a risky relapse situation while repeating your mantra. 

As you work your way through your strongest triggers, you will gain all the confidence, new behaviors and coping tools needed to ensure permanent quit success! Plan ahead, follow your plan and KTQ :) 

Vikki Q CTTS-M  

Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist

              You don't have to Quit alone;

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