Happy holidays! No matter what you celebrate, you deserve to have a season full of joy, family time and tobacco-free surroundings.
This time can be incredibly stressful. According to a poll by the American Psychiatric Association, nearly half of adults are more worried and stressed during this time. Whether you’re planning to quit during the holidays or you want to prepare yourself to combat the stress that comes with big family gatherings, we have tips and tricks for you to stay quit.
Quitting isn’t easy, so be patient with yourself. Find what works best for you!
Tips for a Tobacco-Free Holiday
Consider possible triggers and how you could cope with them.
According to Mayo Clinic, avoiding triggers can be one of the most effective ways to prevent relapsing. Before you attend any holiday gatherings, sit down and write down various events that could trigger you — ending a meal, relatives who smoke or use tobacco, uncomfortable conversations, sports not going your way, etc. Then take note of how you plan to address these triggers.
Bring diversion tools to distract yourself from your urges.
On average, cravings last between three and five minutes before they pass.
With the right tools, you can get past the urge to smoke, vape or chew. Bring sugar-free gum, toothpicks, hard candy or other items to keep your mouth busy. Additionally, you could bring a fidget toy like a stress ball or another sensory item to keep your hands occupied.
Practice relaxation techniques to take the edge off.
If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a few minutes to breathe, release or visualize. Take a step away, find a spot where you can sit alone and breathe in and out slowly for two to three minutes.
Another option is to mentally scan yourself from head to toe, finding places to reduce physical tension. Unclench your jaw, let your tongue release from the top of your mouth, drop your shoulders, let your fingers loosen, massage your shoulders, stretch as necessary or apply a heat compress.
If the environment is too much for you, close your eyes and visualize a place that brings you peace — your favorite beach, your childhood home, your grandmother’s kitchen, etc.
Bring nicotine replacement therapy tools.
If you know you may need more assistance than this, contact the South Dakota QuitLine for a free Kickstart Kit, which comes with two to four weeks of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) gum, lozenges or patches. You can also buy them over the counter at most drug stores. NRT is proven safe and effective for those looking to quit smoking, vaping or chewing tobacco.
Consider who will be in attendance who could be supportive.
Your support system is an invaluable tool. Think about the people you trust who will be at the gathering with you. Contact them and ask them to help you stay accountable. Maybe you ask your spouse to go on a walk with you after the meal, or maybe you ask a parent to remind you of the reasons you’re quitting.
Dealing with Lack of Support
Keep in mind that your quit journey is your own, and the opinions of unsupportive people do not matter. Prepare yourself with a positive mindset and some possible responses to negative comments if you expect to see people who may not be supportive over the holidays.
Along with your strong support system, there may be a few people who don’t understand and doubt your dedication. Others may pressure you to join them when they smoke, vape or chew. Don’t let them take your quit off the rails. You can quit!
Get Back on Track If You Relapse
If these tips don’t work out and you relapse, remember that slipping once or twice does not mean you’ve failed. You can get back on track if you don’t give up!
Think back through your quit and take note of what things worked best for you and what things were not effective. What were the triggers that you weren’t prepared for? Make a plan to address or distract from these triggers in the future, and remind yourself of all your reasons to quit. Then start again.
If you need extra support, the South Dakota QuitLine can help.
For smokers, vapers and smokeless tobacco users who are 13 or older, the South Dakota QuitLine offers a variety of quit tools for those looking to kick the habit for free.
Phone coaching, the Kickstart Kit and the Quit Guide come at no cost through the South Dakota QuitLine. Additionally, there are enhanced and hybrid options offered through video calls and texting services. With a quit coach, you are two times more likely to quit successfully. When you enroll in phone coaching, your quit coach will listen, give advice and help guide you through your quit journey.
When you enroll in the South Dakota QuitLine, you may be eligible to receive free prescription medication to aid your quit with a prescription from your healthcare provider.