Many people who make New Year’s resolutions have some trouble following through. Smokers who have decided to quit may have similar problems, especially since it’s common to slip up after quitting. If your New Year’s quit plan hit a snag, don’t fret – you can use this Monday to recommit to your quit and start fresh.
The New Year began with the best of intentions – you were going to make a positive change to improve your health and you were going to stick to it. And then, you didn’t. That’s okay! If you slipped up while quitting smoking, you are just like many other people who are quitting. Many smokers will relapse seven to 10 times before quitting for good. A slip-up isn’t the end of your path towards quitting – it’s just a detour to the same finish line.
First things first: If you slipped up, don’t beat yourself up. You can’t go back and “un-smoke” that cigarette, but you can take steps to avoid another one. Retrace your steps to figure out what triggered you to smoke. Was it a social gathering? A stressful situation? A craving that you just couldn’t beat? There are ways to manage all of your smoking triggers that will only require some minor adjustments. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your quit plan.
After identifying your triggers, identify their solutions. If you smoke while stuck in traffic, designate your car as a smoke-free zone. Clean any cigarettes or ash from the car and figure out a different way to distract yourself, like a new playlist, an audio book, or a bottle of water. (Not your phone.) If work stress is your trigger, find the time to step away to take a walk or take a few deep breaths, both of which can help you get through a craving.
One of the best things you can do to stay on track if you slip up is remind yourself why you quit in the first place. Remind yourself that you made a brave, positive decision that will have both short- and long-term benefits. Your immune system will gain strength. You’ll be able to breathe better. Food will taste better. Down the road, your risk for heart disease will decrease. You’ll add years to your life, and those years will be healthier.
Maybe you didn’t live up to your New Year’s resolution. Join the club! You’re in good company. You also have a new opportunity every Monday to quit again and then renew your commitment to your quit. Don’t worry about a new year when you have so many new weeks ahead!