It's taken a lot of hard work, with possibly some challenges to get to this tobacco-free place. This is where you want to remain. Being a recent quitter increases the risk of relapse. Quitting smoking can be physically uncomfortable and mentally exhausting. Consider using a quit medication if you have a difficult time during the first couple of weeks maintaining a quit. Connecting with a support network, reaching out to a quit-buddy, or talking to a smoking cessation counselor is helpful in keeping you focused and on track.
Staying quit and preventing a relapse requires a plan to maintain your new healthy lifestyle. Recognize behavior that could get you in trouble and plan ahead with coping skills, strategies for distraction, and emotional support. You will need to find alternatives to the temptations to smoke; learn from your quitting history where your stumbling triggers lie and seriously commit to doing whatever it takes to not smoke.
Pay attention to signs of a potential relapse. Have you noticed your mind wandering down memory lane? Perhaps thinking of smoking a bit more than usual? Watch out if you find yourself rationalizing that you can smoke just one or feeling over confident and falsely believing you are solid in your quit and can take a few puffs. Slips and relapses all start with one puff so avoid the risk. Ask yourself why you are questioning or contemplating going down this road. Practice countering your smoking rationalizations with truthful statements that support quitting smoking. Respond to ‘I feel healthy.’ and ‘Smoking doesn’t affect me because I don’t inhale.’ by telling yourself ‘Smoking affects every organ and system in my body, including my mouth, teeth and tongue’ ‘Quitting smoking now will reduce my chances of a smoking related illness.’ The only sure way to stay quit is by adhering to the “Not One Puff Ever” maxim. Continue to stay focused on your quit and reward yourself for all your good efforts.
Weight gain associated with quitting smoking is often another reason given for returning to smoking. Try not to become overwhelmed with taking on too many life changes at once. Keep the priority on your quit, knowing that the weight can be dealt with by eating healthy food choices, smaller portions and getting some physical movement daily. A little weight gain is far less harmful to you than continued smoking.
Be prepared to anticipate and identify high risk situations. Being out socially where smoking is prevalent, drinking alcohol or being in a heated argument are all situations that could trigger a relapse. Risky occasions happen when you least expect, during fun times at family gatherings, visiting old friends, even when you’re bored with nothing to do. Protect your quit by rehearsing mentally how you will cope with these varying situations. See yourself saying no to the cigarette offered to you by a friend at a party, or whatever scene may play out in the future and responding with the alternative coping strategy you’ve decided to use instead of smoking. Get suggestions for good trigger strategies from the coaches or members at QuitNet.
Balancing a healthy lifestyle is essential in maintaining a quit. Find new ways to manage the stress in your life; get some physical exercise, meditate, keep a journal and take care of yourself doing things you enjoy. Planning ahead for potential triggers will help you avoid the snare of relapsing.
Keep coming back, and KTQ!
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:
You’ve quit smoking so that you can live a healthier, happier life. Maybe after you kicked the habit, you picked up a couple of healthier ones like eating a more balanced diet, getting more exercise, or managing your stress. But what about sleep?
Sleep is something we often take for granted. We all need sleep, and yet it may be the first thing that is sacrificed in a busy day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of U.S. adults experience insufficient sleep or rest. Crankiness, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue can be a direct result of not getting enough sleep. A good night's rest is important to both physical and mental health. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to greater risk for obesity, depression and anxiety. Another alarming statistic estimates that, each year, 100,000 police-reported crashes are related to driving while tired!
Many ex-smokers complain of having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep after quitting smoking. While sleep woes are a common and frustrating complaint among recent quitters, they are also temporary. Nicotine’s effect on sleep is largely due to its stimulant properties which keep the body and mind in alert mode instead of wind down mode. In addition, since the body goes without nicotine for a long period during sleep, smokers may awaken earlier in response to withdrawal. Smoking is also a risk factor for an array of sleep disorders including sleep apnea, insomnia, and exaccerbation of restless leg syndrome. Ultimately, quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to rest easier!
Knowing you need more sleep and actually getting more sleep can be two different things. While sleep needs vary, the average adult needs roughly between 7-8 hours of sleep. Quality of sleep, however, is just as important as the amount of sleep you get. Here are some simple tips to getting more and better quality sleep.
First, invest in your sleep environment. Proper support, including mattresses and pillows tailored to individual bodies and sleep styles, can help improve sleep quality. Also keep your bedroom dark and the temperature cool.
Second, go to bed and get up at around the same time every day, including on weekends. Creating a consistent sleep and wake schedule helps regulate the body's internal clock. It's slightly more important to wake up around the same time of day as it's easier to force yourself to wake up than it is to force yourself to be sleepy.
Third, avoid alcohol and caffeine 4-5 hours before bedtime. Beer, wine, soda, coffee, tea, etc. signal the brain to stay awake and can take several hours to clear the body.
Last, restrict your bedroom activities to sleep and sex. This means keeping electronic devices—TVs, ipads, cell phones, books (electronic or otherwise) and other distractions—out of the bedroom. Even backlighting produced from these devices is a powerful cue for your brain to stay awake.
Pick up getting more sleep as a healthy habit and you will not doubt be rewarded with feeling good, alert, and energized.