Quitting smoking isn't easy, and at times your motivation can begin to lose steam. To ensure success you will need to power up your desire to stay quit.
REASONS FOR QUITTING
One way to boost your motivation is to review all the reasons you wanted to quit in the first place. Are those reasons and motivating factors still important to you? If not, then reevaluate and come up with a new list of valid reasons to quit smoking. Keep in mind that the more reasons you find to motivate yourself in favor of quitting the more likely you are to stay quit.
Make your reasons personal and specific. For example, instead of saying 'To feel healthier' you might say 'So I don't feel out of breath when I play with my children.' Think about the personal costs of smoking for you and those you love. Being a good role model and protecting your family from second hand smoke may pull at your heart strings. Imagine yourself five or ten years down the road if you quit; picture that same time period continuing to smoke and what do you see? Think about the consequences of continued smoking. Where do you want to be? Perhaps you are upset with the control cigarettes have over your life and you want to be free of the addiction. You can't leave out the spiraling cost of cigarettes today, either. With the money saved by not smoking, you could take a trip or pay a bill.
BENEFITS OF QUITTING
Acknowledging the short and long term benefits you receive from quitting smoking, and reframing your thinking to focus on the positive aspects of quitting, will help get you out of a motivational slump. Smoking is detrimental to every organ in your body. Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your overall health. Within minutes of your last cigarette your body begins to heal itself. In the first twenty minutes your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. There are other immediate benefits you become aware of right away, like fresher breath and clean smelling hair. The benefits of quitting get even better over time. Soon you may notice that your morning cough has disappeared, you can walk up the stairs and you are not out of breath, and the food you prepare smells and tastes good. Quitting helps improve self image and self esteem. You conquer an addiction, set a good example and take back control of your life. Your risks for smoking-related diseases decline and you get a chance to live a longer life. Focusing on the positive benefits of quitting will improve your motivation to move forward.
The more people you have cheering you on the better. This is especially helpful when you are going through a tough time and experiencing a lapse in motivation. Words of encouragement can spur you on and help you keep the focus on the positive. Involve yourself with others who are trying to quit smoking or have already quit. Most quitters have experienced dips in motivation; you can learn from them by listening to their stories. A great source of support can be found here on QuitNet, in the forums, clubs and chat. It's also important that you support yourself by recognizing your own quitting progress and the lifestyle changes you made to get to this point. Celebrate your quit milestones and reward yourself by buying something enjoyable with the money you have saved not smoking. Gathering support from others and acknowledging your quit success keeps you motivated and moving forward.
Keep Going and KTQ!
Quit With Us!
Welcome to this week's installment of QMember Stories, featuring JudM! Enjoy her story, in her own words:
I grew up in a smoking home. My parents smoked everywhere all the time. My mother smoked unfiltered Kools and Dad smoked Lucky Strikes.
I hated being around the smoke as a kid, but started smoking while at school in England in 1970, at the age of 20. How dumb is that? I really had to work at teaching myself how to smoke. I learned way too well.
I quit smoking several times, for a few months each time. One quit lasted almost 2 years. The 2 year quit began when I became pregnant with twins; I didn't smoke through the pregnancy and stayed smoke-free up until the twins were almost a year old.
All the time the boys were growing up, they and my husband wanted me to quit smoking, and repeatedly urged me to do so. I did have several short-lived quits over the years from 1981 to 2005 (when I first joined the Q). You're welcome to read my journal at QuitNet.com under my username, JudM. Many of my quit-attempts are journaled there.
My last quit date, the one I count from now, was November 21, 2009. I quit cold turkey, but believe that any way that you can quit is the right way for you. I did have one slip at 9 months into my quit, and almost relapsed back to being a full-time smoker. Thanks to several wonderful people here at the Q, a possible total loss of a quit was kept to just a slip. I actually realized during that slip that the only thing that could make me smoke was me. Sure, I could blame stress, or something a negative person said, but it was still my choice to smoke. In truth, once I made this quit mine -- quitting for me -- it became a lot easier.
Even so, it has been difficult to learn how to live without cigarettes. I have had many tears during my quit. I still seem to cry at the drop of a hat sometimes. What has helped me to get thru craves and stress is learning deep breathing techniques. The Expert QChats provide great help, too. And I enjoy the general chatrooms and all the fantastic people and information here on QuitNet.
What I like most about being quit is not smelling like an ashtray, and saving all those $$$ I used to spend on tobacco. By the fall of 2012, I'd saved enough money to buy a 2011 Dodge Caravan! I say thank you to the Q, and to all the great people here, for that.
You can find me at QuitNet by my user name, JudM. I'm in the chatroom a lot, and people there call Jud-Mud, because Jud is what I go by in 3-D Land (Jud being a nickname for Judith). I tell everyone it's pronounced 'mud', only with a J.
May you all find and have that forever quit you are looking for.
This week, let’s take the new coping tools you identified from last week’s blog and apply them to your quit process. What did you come up with in response to the questions? Here they are again, with a few answers listed by other quitters:
- How will you relax? (take a bath, write in my journal, have a cup of tea, play with my children)
- How will you reward and celebrate? (visit with friends, go shopping, go out to eat, go to a movie, save up for a special purchase)
- How will you process feelings of anger? (talk it out, relax, let it go, handle things better next time)
- How will you deal with anxiety? (keep things in perspective, relax, let go, take a walk, take a both, read a book)
- How will you cope with stress? (deep breathing, repeat my mantra, relax, reward, exercise, talk about it, let it go)
- How will you overcome sadness, loneliness or depression? (reach out, exercise, write in journal, call a friend, spend time with my dog)
- Who will comfort you and help you get you through a bad day? (friends, family, QBuddy, coworker, husband, wife)
Once you have your own list of coping tools, it is time to identify your biggest trigger challenges. When are you most likely to struggle with your quit? Are mornings hardest? How about driving, at work, weekends or when company comes by? Knowing when you are most likely to be tested allows you to come up with a plan of action for that specific situation. Take charge of your triggers! For example, make driving less stressful by leaving earlier. Close your door at work and refuse interruptions during a project. Have an enjoyable activity planned for a weekend reward. Have an area designated outside for smoking visitors and so forth. Plan ahead as much as you can. Use your list of emotional coping tools before you get stressed, angry, sad, overwhelmed or tempted!
By managing your trigger situations and emotions, you will feel centered during day to day experiences. This ensures you can keep your quit going strong. When you cope effectively, you feel more in control of your environment and relapse is less likely to occur. This is all part of a successful quit. By actively meeting your emotional needs, you will do away with thoughts of smoking and feel less stress, anger or frustration. The more you practice your new behaviors, the easier it will be to work through old smoking triggers.
When you find yourself in a tough trigger moment; Stop. Just stop everything and acknowledge what you are feeling. Next, identify what triggered your feelings. You are quit, you wish to remain quit and smoking is not an option. Breathe in deeply, pause and exhale slowly. Repeat a mantra if you like, and relax a bit so you can move forward. Now review your options!
Once you know what you are feeling (EX: stress) and know what triggered it (EX: fighting kids) then you can use your list of coping tools for stress plus your comfort sources for bad days plus your coping tools for anxiety and relaxation. Now you feel less stressed, the urge to smoke has passed and you can move forward with a family discussion.
As you work your way through your quit process, you'll learn some things about yourself along the way. Enjoy the journey as your nonsmoking life unfolds!
Keep going and KTQ,
Vikki Chavez CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
People who have smoked for most of their lives may not recall what life was like before smoking. For years, smoking was a reward, a past time, a coping tool for stress, anger, boredom, anxiety, sadness, frustration and every other emotion or challenge that came along.
As a result, longtime smokers may not have developed emotional coping tools or practiced letting go or learned to sit with their feelings. This can leave the newly quit in double trouble! At the same time withdrawals, anxiety and stress step in, the quitter's only known coping tool (smoking) steps out. When you stop smoking, you stopped doing something you were used to doing every day for many years. It is no wonder why your emotions go through a challenging time!
It is normal to feel nervous, restless and even sad when you quit smoking. You miss your daily ritual; even more so if there are no new behaviors in place for each of the moments throughout the day that you used to smoke.
Quitting is a process. It takes time. It does not feel comfortable at first and that is OK! When you stop smoking, you can no longer do what you used to do in the same way you used to do it. Temporary mood swings can result from quit related hormone fluctuations and quit related withdrawals. It will get better, so keep going!
Know that every smoker goes through similar challenges. As you work your way through your quit, you are actually 'becoming a nonsmoker', not just 'not smoking'. Make a commitment to find new emotional coping tools so you can move forward happily and successfully as a nonsmoker. Plan ahead how you will meet your emotional needs as a nonsmoker. Your answers to the following questions will help provide you with a personal road map to success:
- How will you relax?
- How will you reward and celebrate?
- How will you process feelings of anger?
- How will you deal with anxiety?
- How will you cope with stress?
- How will you overcome sadness, depression?
- What will comfort you and get you through a bad day?
Chances are, you have no idea how to answer these questions because you have never had to! This is a normal experience, and rest assured you can find things that interest you, inspire you, calm, comfort, entertain and support you as a nonsmoker.
Think of things that have helped you get through strong trigger moments in the past. Think of things that make you laugh or recall fondly. Really work your quit process; brainstorm and come up with new emotional coping tools that can address your individual needs effectively. Next week, we will take these new coping tools you've identified and discuss how to move forward successfully as a nonsmoker!
Keep going and KTQ,
Vikki CTTS-M Celebrate your quit with other quitters:
Support from family and friends can be very helpful when you're going through the quitting process. Words of encouragement can spur on progress and keep the focus on the positive. It’s motivating knowing that your family/friends will stick by your side during the uncomfortable times, especially in the early days of your quit.
That being said, family and friends may also unintentionally do and say things that make it more difficult for you to quit, actually doing more harm than help. It’s usually not that family and friends want to roadblock your quit, but rather that they just don’t understand how difficult quitting can be. They may see only the irritable, depressed, and unpleasant person you have become, not realizing you are going through withdrawal and perhaps battling one huge crave after another.
The way to remedy this problem is through discussion. Start by explaining to family and friends how important their support will be in helping you quit for good. Let these people know the reasons why quitting is so important to you. Let them know quitting may be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. Educate family members or friends who have never smoked on the addictiveness of nicotine and how withdrawal causes unpleasant side effects, such as anxiety, irritability, lack of concentration, depression, etc. Remind your family and friends these are normal but temporary quit symptoms.
If you have family or friends who still smoke, ask them if they have ever tried to quit, and if so, what were their experiences? They may have helpful advice. Make a list and think about ways your family and friends can be helpful in supporting your quit. If you live with a smoker ask them not to leave their tobacco products in sight and to smoke out doors and out of view. If needed, remind them that being around people smoking or seeing cigarettes, lighters, etc., are strong triggers to smoke. Tell them under no circumstances are they to offer you a cigarette. Your family and friends are the people in your life who care about you, so an honest and heartfelt request will more likely than not get you the needed support.
You may be a former smoker or a nonsmoker wondering how you can be supportive in helping a family member or friend who is quitting tobacco. You can begin by asking the quitter what they feel would be most helpful and honor their request. If you are a former smoker it may be helpful to share your past experiences; just respect that the quitter may be using a different quit plan. If the quitter is irritable or moody, it’s due to nicotine withdrawal, not a personal feeling towards you; withdrawal symptoms are temporary. Be available to listen to any concerns they may have about quitting. It's better to talk it out versus smoke it out.
Offer to do activities with the quitter that help distract from cravings, such as going to the gym, for a walk, to the movies, a museum, etc. Be in the quitter’s corner by picking up the slack at home when the stress of quitting is getting to them. Offer any needed help to lighten the load. Continue to encourage the quitter, even if the quitter backslides.
Quitting successfully takes many attempts. Each one is an opportunity to learn and move forward to success. Don't forget to praise your family/friend's quit milestones; whether it be one month or two years, all are cause to celebrate!
Keep coming back, and KTQ!
Next week:Joining a Support Group or Smoking Cessation Program
You can quit smoking successfully, and we can help:
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
Meet Kathy. She is a lifelong athlete and 30 year smoker. She is ready to get back into the game! She is quitting in honor of her parents who both died from tobacco-related illness.
Research shows that peer support signficantly increases your chances of a successful quit. Reading about another quitter's triumphs and challenges can help you get through your own. It really helps to see that you are not alone, that struggles can be overcome and your fears and concerns are normal. Watching another quitter go through the process can help normalize your quit experience and provide encouragement.
Here at QuitNet, we often hear it was member testimonials that inspired another member to quit, or helped someone to keep going through challenging times. This month, seven Utah quitters were chosen to participate in a reality TV quit journey. We invite you to read their stories and lend your support. Please join them as they go through their self-documented journey to becoming tobacco free!
You already met Kathy; here are the remaining six Utah quitters and a little about them:
Gavin is a musician, writer, and smoker for over 20 years. He is quitting for his health, an upcoming race challenge and his future family.
Tanner is a young dad-to-be and smoker of five years. He is quitting for his unborn child.
Bob and Mary Beth have been in love for 37 years, and smoking even longer. They are quitting so they can grow old together.
Chelsea is only 22 years old, but has been secretly smoking for the last five years. She is quitting now to ensure a healthy future.
Scarlet is an aerospace worker and smoked for over 30 years. She is quitting for a brighter smile and freedom from addiction.
Chances are, their smoking history, motivations, concerns, struggles and successes are similar to yours. You can cheer them on through the BecomeAQuitter Facebook, Twitter and Youtube channel, as well as read more about each one of them here.
Would you like to share Your quit story? Stay tuned for information on how your quit can be featured right here on the Quit Blog!
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
New Year's Day often comes with resolutions and commitments to meet new goals. Taking stock and choosing to make changes that improve the way we live our lives is a good thing! It is how we grow and improve our overall wellbeing. Usually around this time in January, many feel themselves losing momentum and focus no matter how worthy the goals and sincere their efforts. Rest assured, that is just the natural ebb and flow of the change process. You may be second guessing your reasons for setting the goals in the first place. You may have commited to too much at once or got lost in the day-to-day tasks of living.
We tend to feel life gets in the way of reaching our goals. Life happens. Sometimes it is good, sometimes amazing and often it is boring or super busy. And sometimes, life is difficult or depressing. I have an important shift in perception for you :) This is not life getting in the way; this is Life! We must come to accept that moving forward with our goals means moving forward while we Live our Lives, regardless of what is happening to us or around us. That means we must keep going no matter what. How? All you need is one thing: Awareness. Be aware of when you are losing focus or feeling overwhelmed. Feel your feelings! Consciously reaffirm your commitment to work towards staying on track. You will succeed and any lack of motivation will disappear. This mind set is crucial to success.
Here is another shift for you. The actual process of reaching goals is best approached with flexibility. You may take 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. You may reach a standstill. There is nothing wrong with giving yourself permission to take a break! That is where awareness comes in. By making an assessment based on awareness that honors your personal needs, you can make an intentional choice to take a guilt free pause. Taking a time out from going full speed ahead towards a list of desired accomplishments is a healthy thing to do. You simply allow yourself to stop, and then pick up where you left off. This does not mean you allow yourself to relapse. It means you choose to slow down and give yourself a chance to reinforce the great changes and new habits you have made so far.
Maintaining your new habits, goals and accomplishments to date actually reinforces all those changes and secures them into your daily routine. If you have lost 5lbs, quit smoking, put money in a savings account or started drinking more water then hold those results steady. Again, taking a break does not mean relapse. Keep your current accomplishments going strong. A break means you maintain all of your great changes and celebrate your efforts to date while not pushing further ahead for the time being.
Take this time to reflect on how far you have come, how far you want to go and when you plan to start up again. This will help you focus and commit for the long haul and more importantly, prevents the ‘all or nothing’ mentality that leads to life long patterns of relapse and restart.
You have come a long way ~ Congratulations! Give yourself permission to stop, relax, enjoy, reward and regroup along your road to success. When you are ready to move happily forward on your journey to health, you will be refreshed, motivated and even more prepared after your well deserved break.
Keep going and KTQ!
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Friends don't let friends Quit alone:
Expectations. Crowds. Obligations. Family Issues. Loneliness. Money. 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 stress, too little time, over spending, over eating and wishing it were all over with? Holidays can be a big relapse trigger, so today is a great day to set yourself up to succeed. How? Just say No!
Just say No to parties you have no interest in going to, that gathering that ends up in a fight every year, gift exchanges you can't afford and any other obligation you feel pressured in to. For some people, being alone is depressing. For some people, depressing is attending a dinner gathering of married couples when solo. Couples may prefer holiday alone time to enjoy each other's company minus the crowd. Feel free to stay home or go where you feel happiest. That may be a crowded theater, your favorite restaurant or some precious at home time off work with zero 'to do' items. You really don't have to be, go or do anything you don't want to. This year, commit to saying No to everything you don't have a heartfelt interest in doing. The secret to having a fun, relaxing, wonderful holiday is giving yourself permission to do Only Things That Are Fun, Relaxing And Wonderful to You!
Relax. You may have time off work, or time off family as they are out shopping and visiting and so forth. Take some well deserved time for You, whatever you want to do with it! Reach out. Call people you care about and want to spend time with. Meet for coffee, wrap presents together, catch a movie, go for a walk, have a nice holiday breakfast. A long holiday weekend means you can connect with friends your work schedules may not usually allow for. Married, single or somewhere in between, there are always ways to share the spirit of the season in a manner that is meaningful to You. You may want to just hang out in your house alone for once and relax - it is up to you!
Plan ahead. Think about about how you want to spend your time and your money, how you really feel about crowded malls, stressful obligations and so forth:
- The most relaxing enjoyable things I could do this year are:
- One thing I will say No to this year:
- One thing I will be sure to do for Me this year:
- To reduce stress I will:
- To enjoy my time off I will:
- One person I will be sure to reach out to:
- One thing I am not getting pressured into this year:
- I give myself permission to:
- I commit to keeping my quit my first priority. If I feel tempted, I will:
- As far as dieting or not dieting, I am going to:
Enjoy. By actively choosing to have a wonderful holiday, you can reduce stress and relapse triggers. By learning to say No to things that you feel pressured or obligated to do, you will be saying Yes to an enjoyable and rewarding holiday season. This year, give yourself a gift ~ the gift of Happiness:)
Happy Holidays, and KTQ!
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Have a Smoke-Free Holiday at the Q:
Meet Peggy. She is a nicotine addict. Today Peggy celebrates over 1241 days of being smoke-free. She is also the first place winner of QuitNet’s Great American Smokeout: Picture Your Quit contest and the inspiration behind this weeks’ Qblog.
After 20+ years of smoking, Peggy tells us, “The changes to life seem to evolve like quitting…I tend to embrace more of life now instead of hiding with a sickerette.”
Peggy found QuitNet in 2007. But it wasn’t until 2009 that she felt ready to quit. She joined the Chantix Users club—one of many clubs on QuitNet— and has made friends for life. In fact, the winning contest photo she submitted depicts her “QFriends” from the Chantix Users Club whom she met during a 3D meeting in Chicago. She explains, “We have grown close; this quitting journey had led us to exploration and discovery of ourselves, with each other.”
And it’s been quite a journey. On July 7, 2009, after over 20 years of smoking, Peggy turned to Chantix and the support of QuitNet, and turned away from cigarettes. She attributes being able to stay quit due to the education and shared experiences on QuitNet. She felt a bond with other Q members which kept her accountable to her quit. Shared stories, shared interests, shared laughter and shared tears brought Peggy closer to the Q. She learned a lot about her fellow Q members; she also learned a lot about herself.
While she holds onto many memories, she recalls a pivotal moment in her quit, when the advice of another fellow Q member kept her from almost losing a 6 month quit. She had just found out one of her close Q buddies had relapsed. And this advice was just what she needed to hear to stay on guard:
“Peggy, be careful if it was a close bud to you. For some reason when someone slips it can open a door to other buds to do the same. It happens a lot so please be careful, Peggy.”
Peggy considers herself privileged to have had her hand held and, in turn, has held the hands of others through difficult times. Ultimately, the accountability she felt for keeping her quit for her Q buddies shifted to keeping the quit for herself.
An important part of her quit day is the Morning Pledge. Each morning, she repeats these powerful words, “I pledge not to smoke today and offer my hand in friendship and support to the next." She still reads the list of pledgers and looks for newbies and other folks who may need an extra hand that day. There is nothing like the power of the pledge.
Congratulations to Peggy on her quit and her win! Keep the quit and keep on being an inspiration to others!