Summer is here and along with it comes warmer weather and the urge to get outside!
But for some, enjoying the summer can be stressful, especially if you associate summer activities with smoking cigarettes. Outdoor activities which were enjoyable in the past--camping, vacationing, hitting the pool, taking road trips and barbecueing--can make summer feel less relaxing and more like a chore if you are constantly worried about not smoking.
Look forward to summer by re-discovering how to enjoy these activities without cigarettes! Here are a few tips to help you survive summer smoke-free:
Plan ahead when vacationing abroad.
Reserve non-smoking hotel rooms and rental cars . Ask to stay with non-smoking friends and family members. If you are staying with family members who smoke, let them know you’ve quit. Ask for their support by not smoking in front of you.
Practice effective coping strategies.
Pack a “quit kit" which may include things like a stress ball, your personal list of reasons for quitting, a journal or notebook, straws, toothpicks, sugar-free candies and gum, sunflower seeds, motivational quotes, etc. Download games and apps onto your smartphone to help keep your mind off cigarettes, keep your hands busy, or relieve stress. Pack your exercise shoes, and hit the gym or go for a walk (and breath of fresh air) whenever the urge to light up is strong.
Consider passing on the alcohol at weddings, reunions and other social events.
The association between smoking and drinking can be a very strong one. In addition, too much alcohol can impede judgment and lower inhibition. Order a "virgin" drink or juice, iced tea, soda or other non-alcoholic drink. You won't always have to avoid alcohol but it's a good idea, particularly for recent quitters. If you choose to drink, limit yourself and/or have a buddy look out for you to help keep you smoke-free.
Plan and engage in smoke-free activities.
Research the area you are visiting for smoke-free beaches, restaurants and bars, museums, amusement parks, etc. Visit a visitor center for information on local events. If you are staying in a hotel, ask about planned activities on-site like exercise classes, local tours, and outings.
Start a new tradition. Sitting around the campfire with a cigarette may have been something you used to do on your camping trips. Replace old traditions and routines with new ones. For example, start a new tradition of telling campfire stories, bring a deck of cards or play board games, start a contest (how about a chili cook-off?), tell jokes, or turn up the music and sing outloud or get up and dance!
Stay connected with other ex-smokers. Even if you are away from home, you can bring your support system with you on vacation! Write down contact information for friends and quit buddies who you can call, email or text when you feel the urge to smoke or just need to vent. Look into local resources for internet access such as libraries, community centers, internet cafes, and business centers located in your own hotel when you are away from home. There is almost always someone on the Q 24/7:
This summer, imagine yourself climbing the Spanish Steps or hiking Mount Kilamanjaro without huffing and pufffing. Imagine yourself enjoying a museum or sitting down to a meal at a restaurant without having to step out for a smoke. Imagine yourself having the energy to do all of the outdoor activities summer has in store for you. Imagine yourself smoke-free!
Summer is no time to go into hibernation. Get out and play!
Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist