The first few weeks after quitting smoking can be hard for anyone. They may be extra tough during the holiday season, when stress and the temptation to overindulge are often worse. Some special efforts can help you celebrate the holidays without giving in to the urge to smoke. Many of these ideas can also be helpful throughout the year.
Celebrate being an ex-smoker and try these tips to keep smoking off your mind.
Be a host Consider hosting the family dinner to keep yourself busy. Shopping and cooking will certainly take up a lot of your time. If you would prefer being a guest this year, maybe you can make a special dish to take with you.
Don't overdo it Without smoking, you might be inclined to go overboard with the holiday feasting. Be aware of how much you are eating and drinking; it may be easy to give in to these other temptations. If you do overdo it, forgive yourself. Remember that next year it won't be as hard.
Try to stay away from alcohol Stick to club soda, seltzer, punch without alcohol, or apple cider. This will curb the urge to light up when drinking and can also help keep off extra pounds.
Avoid spicy and sugary foods Spicy and sugary foods tend to enhance the cravings for cigarettes.
Nibble on low-calorie foods Low-calorie foods such as carrot sticks, apples, and other healthy snacks help to satisfy your need for crunch without adding up to extra pounds.
Stretch out meals Eat slowly and pause between bites to make a meal more satisfying. For dessert, grab an orange or tangerine, or crack some nuts—something that will keep your hands busy.
Keep busy at parties Playing bartender, serving snacks, and meeting guests will help keep your mind off smoking. If the urge to smoke presents itself, put something in your hand other than a cigarette. A bartender's mixing straw is a perfect substitute.
Treat yourself to something special As a celebration of staying quit, think about buying yourself that special something you have been wanting.
Don't wait until the last minute to shop Any added frustration can leave you wanting a cigarette. Take along your favorite fun magazine, book, or catalog to look through while waiting in line. When you feel you are ready to lose control, stop and think. Take hold of yourself and start talking with someone in line next to you, or start looking at what you brought with you.
More Suggestions If you have a weak moment during the holidays and slip, don't panic. Walk through the door, take a deep breath, and decide to resume your quitting program right away. Destroy any cigarettes you have before you're tempted to smoke another. Remind yourself of your commitment to quit, and all the reasons you quit. Try to figure out why you had a setback and learn from it.
Here are more ideas that have helped smokers kick the habit:
Stay positive After waking up each morning, make the promise you won't smoke a cigarette that day. A day at a time keeps the whole thing more manageable.
Picture your success Plan ahead and think of how you will deal with stressful situations without turning to cigarettes.
Take a breather Relaxation exercises can help relieve the urge to smoke. Take a deep breath, hold it for a second, then release it very slowly. Remember, the urge to smoke is only temporary. It will pass.
Work out Physical activity, such as swimming, running, and racquet sports, helps relieve tension and the urge to smoke. Exercise will also help burn off any extra pounds.
Make friends of ex-smokers and non-smokers Ex-smokers and non-smokers can be your partners to help keep you busy and away from cigarettes. Plan time together that explores new outlets you might enjoy. Remember, you are learning to be a non-smoker, and you need to find new places and activities to replace your old smoking-centered ones.
Get support you can count on If you're thinking about reaching for a cigarette, reach for help instead. Ask your friends and family to encourage the new non-smoking you, reach out to a support group, visit Nicotine Anonymous, or call 1-800-QUIT NOW. You can always call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. We want you to quit smoking and we're here to support you!