(MayoClinic.com) Congratulations! If you're reading this, it's because you've already stopped smoking. You feel good about being smoke-free and you want to stay that way. You didn't come this far only to have a smoking relapse now! Use these tips to keep on track and avoid a smoking relapse.
When you first quit, you probably had strong urges to smoke. After a few weeks, though, the urges became less frequent and less intense. But even after months of being smoke-free, you're not home-free. You will always need to watch for situations that could lead to a smoking relapse.
When you feel tempted, remember you've resisted urges before. Go back to the work you did on your stop-smoking action plan. If you didn't make a plan, give it a try. Review your triggers and your strategy for managing them. Remind yourself of your reasons for quitting and the benefits to your health, your finances and your loved ones.Stress: Don't let it push your button
In certain situations or times of stress, you may crave a cigarette. Many ex-smokers who have a smoking relapse say that feeling tense, angry, sad or bored led them to light up.
Stress is a part of everyone's lives, smokers and nonsmokers alike. The big difference is that as a smoker you have used nicotine to cope with stress. Now you need to learn healthier ways of handling stress. Here are some suggestions.
Maybe you've gained some weight since you quit. That's not unusual. Most people gain 10 pounds or fewer. And most ex-smokers eventually lose most of the weight they gain.
Keep your focus on staying smoke-free and being healthy. Use the Mayo Clinic Food Pyramid to guide your eating. And try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If you're concerned that you've gained more weight than might be healthy for you, talk with your doctor.Reward yourself
Now that you aren't buying cigarettes, you probably have more spending money. For example, if you used to smoke one pack a day — at $5 a pack — your savings quickly add up.
Why not reward yourself for your commitment? Use the money you've saved to buy yourself a gift.Recovering from a slip
If you do slip and have a cigarette, don't punish yourself. But put a stop to it right away and get back on track with these steps:
Remember, stopping smoking is a process, not an "all or nothing" proposition. Learn from your slip and go on. Tap into your support network for encouragement.
If you ultimately start smoking again, don't give up. Most people try several times before they quit for good. What's important is figuring out what helped you when you tried and what worked against you. You can then use this information to make a stronger attempt at quitting the next time.
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