Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends and a time to give thanks for a healthier you! You’ve already shown a commitment to a healthier future by deciding to quit smoking. Another way to feel better is to take steps to manage spending time with friends and family who might still use tobacco. With a little planning you can enjoy the festivities and still stay smoke-free!
Family gatherings can bring back strong memories of tobacco, and trigger powerful urges to smoke –especially if you have friends or family who still use tobacco. These three steps can help:
Who will be there? Who will be supportive, and who might not be? Who can you talk to ahead of time to line up support? What will be the most challenging moments? A big meal can be a powerful trigger to smoke!
How will you actually handle the situation? Who will you plan to spend time with? Are there any places you plan to avoid? Practice in your mind how you want to tell people you have quit smoking and how they can help you stay smoke-free.
If your doctor has recommended medications to help you quit smoking, make sure you bring these with you to the gathering – and use them! Spend time with the people who have offered support. Keep yourself busy – offer to help in the kitchen. If all else fails, excuse yourself and take a short walk. Even cut the day short if you are concerned you might have a cigarette. Your biggest supporters will understand.
There are a lot of “firsts” that go along with quitting tobacco. You will probably always remember your “first” winter not using tobacco, your “first” big argument without smoking, studying for your “first” final exam with no cigarettes, and also your “first” Thanksgiving without lighting up. But your second Thanksgiving (and then your 3rd) not smoking should get a lot easier.
Share your smoke-free Thanksgiving stories with your friends at BecomeAnEX.org Everyone likes to hear stories.
Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated more than 50,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org