You are now a non-smoker. You’ve broken up and moved on. Now comes the challenge of staying smoke-free, no matter what life throws your way. Like the initial break-up, staying smoke-free will take some planning and commitment on your part. However, considering the effort you’ve already made, you should feel very confident about remaining smoke-free. You know how to deal with strong cravings, how to resist the temptation to get back with smoking, and how to enjoy life without turning to your old flame.
Changing your behaviour.
No matter how good your reasons are for breaking up with smoking, you may still find yourself thinking about lighting up now and again. The best way to defeat temptation is to avoid it in the first place. This may sound too simple, but it really works.
- Avoid the places where you’ll want to smoke and try new places instead.
- Avoid the activities that you associate with smoking and try a new hobby or sport.
- Avoid your smoker friends until you feel stronger. Talk honestly with them though – let them know you still want to be friends, but that it is important to you to be a non-smoker. Let them know you don’t expect them to break-up with smoking, but that you could use their help and support with your own smoking break-up.
Controlling your surroundings.
When you and smoking were tight, you developed certain patterns. For example, you may have smoked more when you were drinking or with certain people at work. You probably repeated these smoking patterns so many times that you actually trained yourself to have a cigarette every time these situations arose. Smoking probably became so automatic that you lit up without even thinking about it. If you want to remain a non-smoker, you will need to reverse this training. One way to do this is to control your surroundings – instead of letting your surroundings control you.
Many ex-smokers say that they are most tempted to get back together with smoking when their stress levels are high. Trouble at work, caring for a sick family member, financial difficulties, even a holiday can increase your stress and make you vulnerable to a slip. Don’t let stress be a reason to get back together with smoking.
When you feel the pressure in your life starting to build, take a few minutes to step away from the situation. Go for a walk, listen to your favourite music, read a good book, or call a trusted friend. Do whatever you have to do to keep your mind off the smokes. Here are some stress-relieving exercises that have worked for others:
The Avoid, Alter and Accept method.
Sometimes the best solution is to avoid the problem in the first place.
For example: Someone asks you for a favour. You already feel stressed and you know that you don’t have enough time to help out. Instead of bringing more stress on yourself, tell them that you can’t help out right now. Avoid the stress. Avoid the cigarette.
Another way to solve a problem is to change the situation to make it less stressful.
For example: You have a long list of things to get done and not enough time to do them. Instead of trying to do everything and setting yourself up for stress, just do the most important things, and feel good when you’re able to get them done. Ask someone for help or change your plans so you have enough time. Alter the stressful situation.
When you can’t avoid or change a problem, you have to accept the stress as best you can. Keep things in perspective.
For example: Your car breaks down and you can’t get to an appointment. Instead of telling yourself that this is awful, try to see it as just unpleasant or a bit of a hassle. It’s not the end of the world. You could take a bus or a taxi, or reschedule the appointment. Accept the situation.
The Avoid, Alter and Accept method really works. Try it.
Plan events to mark your break-up anniversary.
Mark your anniversary date and for the first six months after the break-up, plan special celebrations on the monthly anniversaries of your break-up date.
At your six-month and first-year anniversaries celebrate with some of the money you’ve saved by not smoking and reward yourself with that gift you’ve always wanted. Continue to reward yourself from time-to-time with the extra cash you’ve saved.
Some final thoughts.
If you made it through the first couple of months smoke-free, you have plenty of reason to be proud. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms are strongest right after the initial break-up, but the mental, emotional and social effects may last for many months.
Don’t be surprised if you’re occasionally tempted to have a smoke two, three or even four years after breaking up. Remember the tools you’ve picked up here and keep using them. Remember, the temptation will pass, it always does.
Once again, congratulations! You have rejoined the millions of Canadians who enjoy life without tobacco. The world is yours again.