Your First Smoke-Free Holiday Season

Tips to Help You Manage Holiday Stress Without Smoking

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The holiday season can be especially challenging for those of us who are working to quit smoking. Additional burdens, stresses and associations this time of year can put a new quit program at risk.

Knowledge is Power

Usually, the more we know, the better off we are. When it comes to smoking cessation, this concept is doubly true. A clear understanding of potential pitfalls allows us to move through recovery from nicotine addiction with our eyes open, prepared for what may (or may not) come.

The psychological value of planning ahead is well worth the mental exercise and goes a long way towards paving the way to success.

Watch Out for #1

Simply put, take care of yourself first, and the rest will flow more smoothly. We're prone to overextending ourselves during the holidays because there's so much more to do. The result is fatigue and crankiness, and that can translate into lack of focus for smoking cessation, putting new quitters in danger of relapse.

Take steps every day to insure that you are taking care of your mental and physical health this holiday season.

The following tips can serve as a daily checklist to make sure you're staying on track with self-care.

Your Body

Take a Multivitamin
Getting the extra boost of a daily vitamin is good insurance when you're busy and meals are hectic and sometimes lack proper nutrition.

Eat a Nutritious Breakfast
Start your day off right.

Eat a well-balanced meal that provides your body with the energy it needs.

Drink Plenty of Water
Water is critical for our bodies to function properly. Poor hydration leaves us achy and tired, so be aware of your water intake and make sure you get enough.

    Keep Moving
    With all of the hustle and bustle this time of year, getting enough exercise is easy. Park at the back of the lot when shopping, use the stairs rather than the escalator, and hit all of the aisles at the grocery store. Exercise provides energy and a better attitude. Use it to your advantage.

    Get Your Beauty Sleep
    If you don't get enough sleep, everything else suffers. Shoot for 7 to 8 hours a night most nights, and add a power nap during the day if you need to. A well-rested you will be better equipped to manage the stresses that come along while also maintaining your quit program. Don't skimp on sleep.

    Your Mind

    Quit Smoking Support
    Don't forget to check in for a shot of encouragement when you're feeling weak or tired. You're not alone on this journey. Thousands of others are going through their first smoke-free holiday season too.

    Deep breathing is an immediate fix for stress and you can do it anywhere.

    Breathe in through your nose for a count of three and exhale through your mouth for a count of three. Repeat this for a few minutes, and the tension in your body will begin to fall away.

    Let it Go
    Relax your expectations a little and give yourself a break this year. Maintaining your quit program takes energy, so allow for that by cutting back on the amount of work you do in preparation for the holiday season this year.

    Make a couple of lists -- one that details the things you must do, and one that lists the tasks you can let go if necessary.  Lists allow you to see the whole picture and prioritize. Next, delegate. Let others help you. Friends and family are usually more than willing -- all you need to do is ask.

    Relieve the pressure on yourself, and simplify where possible. You can return to your normal holiday routine next year when smoking cessation is well behind you.

    Your Soul

    Feed Your Spirit
    Schedule a half hour (or more) of pamper time every single day as you go through this holiday season. Recharge your batteries and feed your soul in ways that work for you.

    Take time for...

    • a cup of tea
    • a movie
    • a long, hot bath
    • a hobby that soothes you
    • a good book
    • meditation -- take 15 minutes to quiet the internal chatter

    The key here is to do this for yourself without guilt. Remember, take care of your needs first, and everything works better.

    Holiday Associations

    Chances are good that as you work your way through your first smoke-free holiday season, you'll face a number of triggers to smoke associated with this time of year specifically. Some are obvious and expected, like the stress mentioned above and drinking at holiday parties.

    Then there are the subtle triggers that catch you by surprise. Activities like holiday baking, trimming the tree and wrapping gifts might leave you feeling edgy the first time you do them smoke-free. Don't let it throw you if this happens; it's normal and is part of the recovery process.

    Smoking was thoroughly intertwined in everything we did in our lives. It only makes sense that your first smoke-free holiday season might trigger associations that bring on cravings.

    That awareness, along with a little preparation, will keep you in the driver's seat with your quit program, should urges to smoke come at you out of nowhere. Remember, you're teaching yourself a new way of living, and it takes some practice.

    Recovery from Nicotine Addiction is a Process...

    ...and part of that involves learning how to negotiate the special occasions in our lives smoke-free. Stick with it, and by the time the holidays roll around next year, smoking won't even be a concern.

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