Staying Quit in a Crisis

High speed winds and towering water swells heralded the arrival of Storm Sandyearlier this week. In wake, it left collapsed buildings and homes, flooded streets, power outages, debris, lost lives and general chaos.

Natural disasters and times of crisis are common relapse triggers to smoking. You may be overwhelmed with feelings of fear, powerlessness and lack of control. Your "old way" of responding to a crisis may have been to stock up on cigarettes and put yourself on lock-down in preparation for the storm and the recovery time ahead.  However, now that you've quit smoking, cigarettes are not an option. Being caught in the middle of disaster may not be a choice you have, but choosing to remain smoke-free, can be.

Your ability to get through a crisis without lighting up is an important part of a quit process. No amount of smoking is going to change things so you may as well weather the storm! Part of damage control means being prepared for emergency situations in the first place. If you live in parts of the country where earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes and other natural disasters can strike, take the time to create a plan and build a kit of basic emergency items you may need.

Now more than ever it's also important for you to reach out to the community. Instead of turning to cigarettes for support, turn to others--friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and fellow quitters:

Share stories, express your concerns, keep others posted on your status as well as get updates on how others are coping. If you're stuck at home, stay distracted by catching up on old movies, calling up friends and family members, playing video games, baking, etc. If you have no power, no means of transportation or are otherwise incommunicado, keep yourself busy until power returns. Some ideas include:

  • Board games
  • Puzzles
  • Working on a hobby
  • Drawing
  • Reading books
  • Writing in a journal
  • Prayer/meditation/positive affirmations and mantras

Do whatever it takes to remain smoke-free.

Even if you weren't directly hit by a crisis like Storm Sandy, you may have family and loved ones who were.  Concern over their well-being, not knowing if they are safe and/or not being able to communicate can be frustrating and stressful. You can maintain some semblance of order by continuing with your usual daily routines. You can also try connecting with family members and friends who are reachable. Focus on the things you can control and let the rest go.

The road to recovery can be a lengthy one. But be confident in tackling any situation that comes your way with a sense of calm determination. Stay safe and stay smoke-free,