Staying Quit Over the Holidays

Patient Expert

I always found it interesting that the date of the "Great American Smokeout" comes right before the holidays. Doesn't everyone know that the holidays are stressful and that stress makes it more difficult to quit smoking?

I often made resolutions to myself that "this year I will join the quitters and be free of cigarettes in time for the holidays" But each year my resolve would evaporate with the first whiff of a hot toddy. Back I would slide and then I would figure, "I might as well wait until after New Year's Eve to quit."

And so it went, year after year. What I discovered once I quit for good (February 13, 2001) was that we really do control how much we let things get to us. And stress will always be there. Our lives will never be so calm and uneventful that we will feel that "now is a good time to quit." Something always comes up.

So quitting right before the holidays turns out to be a pretty neat gift to give to ourselves (and to our loved ones - they have a vested interest in our health too). Why not make it now? And if you have already quit and are wondering how you will get through the next few weeks, then keep in mind that whatever comes up really is transient - it too will pass.

What we decide to do about our smoking is truly our decision. It cannot be wrested out of our control by a little holiday stress. We have more power than that! And cigarettes only have as much power as we decide to give them.

Below are some tips that were helpful for me during those first few holidays as a freshly-minted nonsmoker:

  • Stay away from alcohol (or use in extreme moderation)
  • Drink lots of water
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Keep items handy for when you feel fidgety (e.g., pencils, toothpicks, celery)
  • Talk to people about how you quit smoking

Try to get outside often and breathe deeply of the crisp winter air - rejoice in your lungs' capacity to nourish you with life-giving oxygen. Take in some extra sunshine - it will improve your mood and keep you feeling positive about quitting.

I wish you peace and serenity to make it through the holidays feeling stronger than ever!