You finally quit smoking — congratulations! Now you want to keep your resolve through the holidays ahead, even though they may be full of situations that trigger your urge to light up.
Despite the challenges the season brings, a few guidelines can help you make it to the New Year with your non-smoker status still intact.
1. Plan to persist
Consider what potential stumbling blocks you might face, such as stressful family gatherings and the temptations that come with parties, feasting and seeing old friends. Now, plan healthy ways to address each one of these scenarios.
If you used to smoke after meals, opt instead to help with the dishes or by serving dessert. When you find yourself surrounded by people smoking, excuse yourself and go for a walk and get fresh air.
“Take the nonsmokers with you to keep you company and to help with your resolve,” says Marra Williams, UCI Health certified health education specialist. “Tell them, ‘I’d like to go for a walk, because I don’t want to smoke.’ Chances are, they’ll join you.”
Should you feel lonely, get involved in a public activity or event (you’ll find many during the holidays), consider volunteer work, or call a friend, relative or the Smokers’ Helpline toll-free (800-NO-BUTTS) for support.
2. Mingle with nonsmokers
When possible, try to stay with a non-smoking crowd.
“Smokers are not always supportive of those who want to quit smoking,” Williams warns. “Sometimes it’s because they don’t want you to quit if they can’t do it. Other times, it’s because they don’t want to lose their smoking buddy.”
3. Reward yourself
Be your own cheerleader and use the money you’ve saved by not buying cigarettes or tobacco-related products to reward yourself for every smoke-free milestone.
“At a savings of $7-plus a pack, it adds up fast,” says Williams. “In two or three days, you’ll have enough money to take yourself out to lunch or dinner. Within a week you’ll have enough to go to the movies. In a year, you’re looking at more than $2,000 savings. That’s a vacation!”
4. Recover from relapse
If you do smoke, you’re not a failure. You’ve just relapsed, and you can still be a non-smoker. But do look at what made you relapse, Williams says, and then create a plan so that when the situation comes again, you’ll know what to do.
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