Stress is a common relapse trigger. Stress happens to all of us, and stressors range from mild to overwhelming. Since stress can build to a breaking point, a good stress management plan is crucial for a successful quit.
The minute you find yourself feeling stressed, stop. Stop everything you are doing and take a good deep breath. Pause, and feel the air fill your lungs. Exhale slowly. Repeat 5 times. Trust that everything is going to work out as it is meant to be, that you are capable of handling the situation and that your best is always good enough. All you can do is all you can do - then let go. Focus on the task at hand, only own what is yours to own, and let the rest go.
Many of us live days filled with an endless list of tasks, appointments, chores, responsibilities, obligations and work. Take some time out of every day to do a few things for you! It is your life and one worth living in joy, not stress.. The rest is just 'stuff'. What do you enjoy? Do it! Play music, take a long hot bath, take a walk, go to a movie, spend time alone, read, journal, fix a quiet & healthy meal, take a short drive, go window shopping or to your favorite restaurant. Give yourself permission to put you at the top of your list! Let someone else make dinner. Leave the floors or paperwork for later. Take a day off - ENJOY! You deserve a break, and nothing is worth more than enjoying the journey of our lives.
TALK WITH A FRIEND
A problem shared is trouble spared! Good friends offer you feedback, a space for you to be heard, a venue for you to process your thoughts (and often, your own solutions), a shoulder to cry on, a cheerleader, a confidant, shared joy, encouragement or comfort in times of need. Reach out! Be a good friend, and appreciate the good friends you have. Your life will be improved many times over.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
It is easy to get caught up in the swirl of worry and everything that is not working (car, dishwasher, conflicting personalities) when in fact, the majority of our lives ARE working! The washer may be broken, but how is your heart? Your health? Do you have somewhere to live? Have you laughed lately? Focus on what you do have, what you love, and what is right in your world. The rest is just random ups and downs. What you focus on grows - focus on all the good things around you!
HONOR YOUR QUIT
Quitting smoking is a big change. It takes effort, commitment, will power, planning and daily attention. Quitting is a good exercise in effective goal setting and completion, and each step in your quit process adds successful tools to use in other parts of your life. Celebrate and protect your quit by making every day a smoke free, relaxing day!
Stay tuned for Part 2; Detox. Until then, keep up the good work and KTQ!
Vikki CTTS- M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Part Two of last week's Mother's Day Q Blog: Dealing With Peer Pressure
Most adult smokers picked up their first cigarette when they were teenagers, and so began a potential lifelong addiction. Peer pressure is one of the most common reasons kids start to smoke. Adolescence is a time when fitting in is extremely important. Kids want to be liked by their peers and fear being made fun of or singled out. Teens may engage in risky behaviors in order to win social acceptance from their peers. If invited to join a group where smoking is common, your teen will most likely smoke to feel accepted. This is especially true if a teen feels socially awkward and doesn’t make friends easily.
It’s also more likely for teens with attention deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) to experiment with smoking and become nicotine dependent. Nicotine is a stimulant that acts similar to some of the medications used to treat ADHD. Cigarettes easily become the drug of choice for kids with ADHD, as they self-medicate to relieve their symptoms. School life and social pressures can increase stress and anxiety for all teens. So, while smoking may start as a result of peer pressure, it may end up as a coping tool for life's daily stress.
Get to know your teen’s friends! Ask your teens if any of their friends smoke. Ask if they talk about smoking with their friends or if they have ever been offered cigarettes. If their close friends smoke, eventually they may break down and try one. Ask them to picture situations where their friends may offer them a cigarette. Help them practice resisting peer pressure by doing some role-playing so they feel comfortable saying no to their friends.They can blame it on their parents: “Not for me, My Mom/Dad will ground me for life if I smoke”, or use humor: “No Way. There are all kinds of poisonous chemicals in those things!” They can even be blunt and just say “No thanks”.
Ask your teen their opinion on the dangers of smoking. It’s best not to lecture on the long term consequences of smoking as teens tend to live in the here and now and ten to twenty years down the road is an eternity to them. Your teen’s vanity is a better hook. Teens don’t want yellow teeth, wrinkly skin, or smelly breath and hair. If you want your teen to be aware of the health risks of smoking, put it in terms that are relative to them now. Let them know how smoking will affect their ability to sing, dance, run track, play ball, swim; even date! Choose something that matters to them.
Smoking is expensive. Have your teen do the math on how much money the average smoker spends a year on cigarettes. Have them make a list of things they could buy with that money. Chances are, they have been asking or saving for something special; now’s a good time to show them the financial costs of cigarette smoking. Offer a reward incentive for staying smoke-free (or quitting if they smoke) and see how quick they comply!
Your teen is faced with peer pressure on a daily basis, so expect to revisit the issue of smoking frequently. Being supportive will help them make the right choice. Being an example by not smoking, setting clear boundaries that smoking is not an option, and keeping the communication lines open will help prevent your children from becoming smokers!
Quit with QuitNet today:
Welcome to the this week's installment of Member Stories, which features Steve M, aka Lancer071, who celebrates a 5-year quit!
"I smoked for 30 years, and at last count was smoking about 35 cigarettes a day.
"I tried quitting Cold turkey, failed. Patches failed. It all failed. I was missing a key ingredient for a lasting quit--Support. I found that here in QuitNet.
"The coughing, and being outta breath, is what made me decide to quit smoking this time. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was lost and looking for help online to quit smoking,and I stumbled upon the Q. It was a listing on Yahoo search, if I recall, back in 2004.
"As far as what inspires me to stay quit--I'm not sure inspire is the word for it. A picture for the mind maybe, the little demon in a corner doing push-ups to keep in shape for the next time I get relaxed and say, "Yeah, I can have just one." Knowing there is only the promise of a slow death, and picking up right where I left off. I lost a 6 month quit, and the shame and guilt is another inspiration to stay quit now.
"This quit is a record for me. It took everything I had to make this quit stick. I did it by living here at the Q mostly, and had the attitude of do or die (because that's where it was leading to, anyway). The clubs are the real lifesavers for me. The support I received there was unbounding, unselfish.They never had a harsh word, never left me, and always had my back. So if the Q is a quit-tool, it's all I need.
"I have made so many lifelong friends here. I have met many Q people face to face, and all are wonderful people sharing the same goal. I met the one true love of my life here; all the other women have been a joke up till this Angel came into my life, and taught me that anything is possible. Meeting my soulmate here on the Q? Priceless.
"My most valuable advice to new ex-smokers? Never quit quitting!!! I have had a dozen quits go bad before this 5 year quit. "Never quit quitting" by me.
"There's really not much I can say about a web site that has saved my life...oh yes, there is: Thank you to all the Q family that I'm sure it takes to keep this wonderful place going. You saved me. Thank you!!!!"
Steve M, aka lancer071
Part One: What do you do when you find the child who pestered you for years to quit is now picking up the habit themselves? Upset and surprised as you may feel (after all, you did strongly advise them not to follow your bad example), you will need to tread lightly and resist the urge to lecture and demand. If you come on too strong, your child may just dig in their heels, assert their independence, and continue to smoke.
Instead, be a good listener and ask your child why they started smoking. What was the appeal? How much do they smoke, and with whom? It only takes a short time for a smoker to become addicted; ask if (s)he feels uncomfortable going without smoking for a few hours. Opening a discussion about their smoking habit can help you both create a quit plan.
A great way to prevent your children from smoking is to set a good example and not smoke yourself. So, if you have already quit, then congratulations! If you are in the process of quitting, be honest with them about how hard it is for you to quit and how much you wish you never started. If they see you slip or relapse, use that as a teaching moment. Kids respect honest communication over ultimatums. Reconfirm the addictive power of nicotine. Let them know it’s a struggle, but that you won’t give up on quitting smoking. In the meantime, go outside to smoke and avoid leaving any cigarettes accessible to your teen. Make your home and car a smoke-free zone. Studies show parents who avoid smoking in front of their children may help prevent them from picking up the habit.
Don’t underestimate the influence you have as a parent! Though your teen may appear to be ignoring you, the truth is they care a great deal about what you think of them and don’t want to disappoint you. Stay strong and consistent in your message that smoking is not an option. Keep the communication open by being nonjudgmental and paying attention to what your child is telling you.
Next week: Helping your kids deal with peer pressure.
You can quit smoking successfully, and we can help:
Welcome to the first installment of Member Stories at the QBlog. This week features tinacsu, a new member who quit smoking just in time for April Fool's Day, telling her story in her own words...
"I smoked for 18 years, about half pack a day. If stressed I smoke a little more each day. I tried to quit smoking many years ago...the first time I quit for 2 months. 5 years ago a quit lasted maybe 2 weeks. My heart really wasn't in it, to completely let it go.
"When I smoked I was ashamed of my addiction. I hated thinking that I am trying to make sure my body looks tight on the outside, but am ingesting poison that is ruining my insides. What truly made me decide to quit is my co-worker died of bone cancer 2 months ago. That really made me get serious about quitting.
"On Easter Sunday, 3/31/13, at 11pm, I had my last cigarette. I told myself that on April 1st I would not smoke anymore, and I talked to my Dr. and got a script for the patch. What's different this time is IT IS TIME. I am tired of being a slave to something that is killing me. Cigarettes are so expensive now and people are paying that money to something they think will provide comfort--but they don't. Cigs do not make problems go away or make them better. Ex-smokers have have to learn new coping skills.
"I just googled about quitting smoking and joined QuitNet on 4/3 or 4/4. So far I've been reading the testimonials, factoids, comics, and I joined a few clubs. Seeing my quit status and updates of the days, minutes, hours, seconds, money saved and life saved is inspiring.
"It's one step at a time. I am currently using the patch, but I just read Allen Carr's book, Easy Way to Quit, and he basically says that the willpower method is best, and following his advice. If I was alone on an island that might work! But I enjoyed his book and recommend people read it.
"What inspires me to stay quit is the fact that I sleep better at night, and knowing that I am improving my health. I have more energy in the gym, too. I like to run...I feel confident now that I can start running. When smoking crosses my mind I think of not being able to run for a long period of time.
"My most valuable advice for to others is: Pray. Ask God for guidance and help and strength. Take it one day, one hour, one minute, one second at a time. Don't worry about tomorrow, just get though today. Sometimes if I am having a strong craving I will tell myself, "Maybe tomorrow I will have a smoke, but not today." And the next day I say the same thing (I got that from another quitter on the site)."
QuitNet member since April, 2013
Unlike most tobacco addicts, I was a reluctant smoker at first. I had to work at becoming hooked. If it weren't for the repeated pressure from peers to conform, combined with coolness imagery and a narrative driven by manufacturers and advertisers, I'd have never even tried. This is the third installment of my personal journey into the hell of nicotine dependence. The story so far...
As the new kid in a rural farming town, I tried smoking to fit in, but smoking made me so ill I couldn't take any more than a few puffs at a time. I tried again to become a smoker, or at least fake being a smoker, a few years later when I developed a crush on a high school senior who was herself a heavy smoker. Pretending to be a smoker didn't cut it, however; she wasn't fooled, and the physical effects of tobacco on my body remained a powerful deterrent. Then I joined the Army. [Image: National Archives]
One thing about military life, especially basic training--everything is broken down into pain and simple pleasures. All the civilian things that are important to a new recruit--family, friends, relationships, hairstyles, clothes, TV, partying, chasing girls and boys--are systematically stripped away and replaced with a spartan existence and enforced reliance on routine and authority. Conformity, not rugged indidualism, becomes the order of the day.
You'd think that a habit like smoking, which damages the body, distorts human thought processes, and is marketed as symbol of autonomy and rebellion, would be a bad fit for property of Uncle Sam. Any you'd be right, except for one thing: Uncle Sam himself was a smoker, targeted by tobacco companies (eager to expand their markets by pitching cigarettes as morale-boosters for combat troops) as far back as WWI. Soldiers from privates to generals, as well as retirees, military civilians and dependents, are likely to smoke at up to twice the national average (which currently hovers around 20%).
During WWII, free cigarettes were rationed to soldiers via manufacturers and retailers, and were considered by the troops even more valuable than MRE's (meals ready to eat). Cigarettes became part of the wartime iconography. I myself was profoundly affected, long before ever trying to smoke, by movie images of Allied fighting men lighting up with satisfaction after winning a firefight, or bombing the bejeebus out of Hitler with jaunty little cigarettes stuffed in the sides of their mouth.
In the 1970's, the U.S. government began to re-evaluate smoking by troops, as evidence mounted that smokers performed at a lower physical level than nonsmokers, were more easily injured, and got sick more often. This ill effect on combat readiness ignited a war between the military and cigarette makers and sellers that continued throughout the 1980's and '90's.
Today, soldiers still smoke at a much higher rate than civilians, though the government has taken some positive steps in the right direction--even partnering with QuitNet to help soldiers get free of tobacco addiction.
Next time: So how did I finally get hooked on death sticks?
Alan P, CTTS, Healthways QuitNet
You had a good quit going, then you smoked one. Now what?
A slip is a red arrow pointing to a personal trigger challenge. A relapse is a red arrow pointing to a large space in your quit plan.
What to do next?
STOP. Go back to the very beginning. Every single quit - be it an hour, a day or a year - has within it all the tools you need to ensure your next quit is your best (and last) quit ever!
If you have quit for half a day, that means you have quit successfully before! It also means you know how to quit, how to get through an urge, what works good for you and what does not, when your hardest trigger times are and what has led to a slip or relapse in the past.
Move forward today by writing down a successful quit plan, one that is custom tailored just for you via your previous quit(s):
What are your 3 biggest smoking triggers?
How do you plan to get beyond them?
What worked before? What else are you willing to try? Write it down.
What are your 3 biggest motivators for being a nonsmoker?
What are 3 great benefits you noticed last time when you Quit?
Write it down!
Think of 3 more motivators or benefits and add them to your list.
Post your motivators on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, car visor, desk and so forth. Be sure to Celebrate your Quit! Acknowledge how great you're doing to inspire more great days.
What are your personal emotional triggers?
How did you cope with stress, boredom, frustration and anger last time?
What else can you try this time?
Write it all down. Do it again + add some new options!
How did you reward, relax, comfort, enjoy, fill your time & socialize as a nonsmoker during your last quits? What else can you try? It is important your emotional needs are met, not ignored! If you reward, relax, comfort, enjoy and stay busy, then you will not be bored or stressed or feel like you are 'missing out' as a nonsmoker, so really think it thorugh and write it down.
Why did you slip or relapse this time? Why did you slip or relapse last time?
Using your answers from the above questions, what are 5 things you will commit doing this time instead of smoke when faced with each one of your relapse triggers?
What are 3 more things you are willing to try?
Plan ahead and write it down.
Now you have an outline of your quit personal 'get back on track' action plan.
Remember, NRT/Chantix/Zyban only work to the degree that the quitter works their quit process. Support products are very helpful and they 'take the edge off' as the quitter moves forward. Ultimately, it is the 'quitter moves forward' part that results in a successful quit.
Commit to get back on track with your quit. You can do this - you already have!
Good luck and keep going!
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
You don't have to quit alone:
When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.
This powerful message--found on the American Lung Association website--couldn't be more truthful. If you suffer from asthma and/or other respiratory diseases, the heat, chemicals, and smoke from cigarettes is the last thing your lungs need.
“Asthma and smoking simply don’t mix,” a pulmonologist once told me.
Asthma affects both children and adults and can be life threatening. Deaths due to asthma number over 3300 every year, according to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation. Many deaths can be prevented by taking measures to treat symptoms before they worsen. Asthma symptoms include:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
Avoiding asthma triggers and regular use of a controller inhaler are key to preventing asthma exacerbations. One such trigger to avoid is tobacco smoke, including smoke from pipes, cigars or cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21% of U.S. adults smoke and have asthma. If you have asthma and smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your lung’s health and for the health of your children’s lungs.
Children are particularly susceptible to lung irritants as their bodies are much smaller. Childhood asthma affects 7.1 million children under the age of 18. Smoking during pregnancy can potentially affect newborn lung development and increase risk of childhood asthma.
While, to date, there is insufficient data to show that smoking and secondhand smoke cause asthma, it does make asthma symptoms worse. Tobacco smoke, whether inhaled directly (mainstream smoke) or indirectly (passive smoke) irritates the airways and causes a chain reaction including inflammation of the airways, tightening of airway muscles, and increased mucus production, all of which contribute to the narrowing and obstruction of the airways.
When you quit smoking, you effectively remove a huge source of lung irritation and will notice better asthma control and fewer flare-ups. It is possible, however, that you may notice an initial worsening of asthma symptoms--increased chest tightness, difficulty breathing, coughing, and mucus production. But do not despair! What may appear to be an excacerbation of your asthma is the contrary: your body is healing. Think of it this way: it’s almost if you are not used to breathing without restriction (or if you haven’t breathed easily in the many years you probably smoked). These changes may act as a trigger to asthma symptoms (remember: people with asthma have "twitchy" lungs, meaning hyper-reactivity to anything that can potentially trigger a flare-up). But in the long run, your asthma should IMPROVE. Most folks notice a significant improvement in breathing after 90 days.
In the meantime, you may find yourself increasing your usage of a “rescue” inhaler, at least until symptoms improve. You might also try a warm bath or compress or breathing and relaxation exercises to help alleviate tight chest muscles.
The bottom line: keeping your house smoke-free will leave you and your family breathing easier.
Individuals who have depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or other mental health concerns are more likely to smoke cigarettes than those who do not have these conditions to cope with.
It is important to note that there will most likely be flare ups of mental health symptoms when these individuals stop smoking, a challenge that quitters without mental health issues do not have to contend with.
Are you struggling with depression or other mental health conditions? Do you want to quit smoking successfully? The good news is, you most certainly can! Since you have probably dealt with your symptoms for many years, that means you have the awareness, experience and tools needed to address quit related flare ups effectively.
You can quit smoking successfully with some preparation and realistic expectations. There are side effects brought on by the withdrawal process resulting from stopping smoking. Symptoms of mental health conditions will get worse during withdrawals. This is a temporary side effect. It is unavoidable, so accept that it will occur as part of the process of stopping smoking.
Accept that the process will not be completed - meaning you will not reach the 'feeling better' part - until you remain quit for a long enough period of time for the necessary physical/emotional/hormonal/behavioral/mental adjustments to take place. Every day you do not smoke makes a huge difference, so keep going!
It is very helpful to plan ahead for all of your personal smoking triggers, both emotional and habitual. You can start today by writing down your top 10 smoking triggers. Some common triggers include nervousness, stress, sadness and boredom. What are yours?
Next, work with your doctor before your quit to formulate a plan to avoid smoking in response to each and every one of your specific smoking triggers that you wrote down. If the symptoms of your illness are under control, that means you already have good coping tools in place. That being said, additional tools will most likely be needed to get you from the withdrawal phase to the 'feeling better' phase successfully.
If your symptoms are not under control yet, it is advised to begin by getting your symptoms managed effectively before you quit. That way, your doctor can assist your quit efforts by making small adjustments to your medications, add support sessions, suggest new behaviors and coping skills in combination with the effective tools you already have in place. As a nonsmoker, your medications will work better and you feel better, too!
Here is a 'check list' to ensure a successful quit:
*Make sure your mental health issues are well under control and you have a good plan of action that addresses each and every one of your potential relapse triggers.
*Be prepared for a temporary flare up of mental health issues. Know this will occur and know how you will handle these feelings and symptoms safely and effectively.
*Work closely with your doctor to support and manage these symptoms.
*Use a support product to help you with the physical aspects of your quit.
*Have support around you every day to keep you motivated and focused.
*If you have ever quit before (even for 1 day) you did it successfully! Take every sinlge thing that has worked before and do more of it!
*Take daily action to combat mental health symptoms, including:
-activities you enjoy
-supportive interaction with others
-take time to relax
-celebrate your success
Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. Many people quit smoking successfully who have mental health concerns. You can, too!
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Don't quit alone:
Living with another smoker is one of the toughest challenges the newly quit can face. And if that 'other smoker' happens to be your significant other, you might agree the situation warrants a closer look! Let's say you are at the point where you've decided it's time to quit for You - your health, your life, your success and your future. You are finally ready to own your quit and own your daily choices. You're committed to keeping your precious quit no matter who you work with, who you live with and no matter what they say or do. Congrats ~ you have the motivation and winning attitude for a successful quit!
It helps to understand the potential roadblocks on your home front so you can navigate the murky waters ahead. You will want to keep your quit and your relationship intact. Since you'll also want support, encouragement and a little help, let's take a look at that smoker in your life! Did you know they have an emotional and habitual attachment to your smoking habit, as well as their own? This is perfectly normal. When you decide to quit smoking, their life will change, too. Here are some common thoughts, emotions and fears that the smoker in your life might subconsciously go through when you announce you are quitting smoking:
- You're changing and I don't like it. (Will you still like me/want me?)
- Change is uncomfortable to me. (Why are you doing this to me?)
- How will you spend your time now? (Will I be lonely?)
- What about our smoking friends? (Will I be bored/excluded?)
- We were smokers, what are we now? (I miss the smoking 'us'.)
- You can quit & I can't/won't/don't want to. (Are you better than me?)
- You'll judge me for smoking. (Why are you being unfair to me?)
- I feel guilty smoking now. (Why are you doing this to me?)
- I feel pressured to quit. (I resent you doing this to me.)
- You won't make it a week. (I feel threatened by your resolve/success.)
Your significant other may experience loss - losing a friend, losing your bonding time, losing your couples lifestyle and losing a part of your relationship history. You may feel some of these things, too! Be honest with yourself, process your feelings and be willing to let go of any underlying resentment towards your quit or your partner. Respect their choice to continue smoking at this time. Accept the process of change, and that it might be harder for them to accept since you initiated it. Change is good for everyone! Both of you can move forward successfully with mutual respect, empathy, consideration and open communication. Let your loved one know you recognize your choice affects them, you appreciate their efforts to support you and you don't expect them to quit until/unless they are ready to. If you socialize with other smokers as a couple, share how you plan to do things together just like before, once you get beyond the first few weeks or month of your quit.
Be sure to ask for help, and do so very specifically! Pick your battles. Identify your Top 3 requests that offer the most help for your quit. It helps to use "Please do" when possible, as "Please don't" may create resistance. Here are some examples:
- "Will you please help me by keeping ashtrays, cigarettes and lighters in this drawer?"
- "Will you please say "I'll be back in a minute" instead of "I'm heading out for a smoke?"
- "Will you please tell our smoking friends I quit so I don't feel on the spot?"
- "Will you please help me kick start my quit by smoking outside on the porch?"
Really brainstorm what would help you the most. Some people love to be made a fuss over, others like to be left alone. If your significant other is not very willing to discuss your suggestions, try giving options instead. An example would be: "Would you rather help me by smoking outside on the porch, in the garage or over at John's porch?" Support is a fair thing to ask for! You live there, too, and partnership is a team effort. Focus on what they will do to support you, get a commitment for how that's going to look, then thank them for taking the time to help you plan your quit.
Do avoid the "No matter how much I beg, promise you won't give me one!" request. This sets everyone up to fail. If you do beg, they don't know if they are supposed to honor the No Matter What rule or the intense, glaring person in front of them. Instead, let them know not to give you one unless you _______ or promise you won't get mad (and be sure you don't) if they hold steady. Have some clarification so they won't feel cornered!
With some effort and planning, you can increase your home support system, reduce tension, get along great and quit smoking in a smoking household. Chances are, as you celebrate each successful smoke free day, your loved one will become inspired to give quitting a try, as well.
KTQ in your happy, supportive home!
Vikki Chavez CTTS-M
For peer support from other Quitters, click here: