You have a wonderful opportunity ahead to make it through the holiday season into 2011 smoke-free. People can be a wonderful support and resource. We too often look at other people as being a ‘trigger to relapse’. Look to those who can be helpful and support you in not smoking through the holiday season.
People love to be helpful, especially at this time of year. Help them feel good by asking for their help. Don’t keep your hopes and plans a secret. Let others know your reasons for stopping smoking, confide your concerns, share your vision of being free from the need to smoke.
Keep a short list of people you can contact if you find yourself struggling. Plan ahead. Take your cell phone with you when you go out into the holiday traffic. Let people know that they are on your short list and put their numbers on speed dial. Don’t be afraid to call. Your friends will consider it a privilege. Don’t stop if the first person you call doesn’t answer. You may find that the urge to smoke disappears at the sound of your friend’s voice on the answering machine. But don’t stop. Call the next person on the list. Call them all, don’t be stingy.
The Holidays are a wonderful time of the year to be social and connect with others in ways that we don’t do the rest of the year. Don’t let the fact that you have stopped smoking hinder you from enjoying it. Use the holiday connections to help you grow stronger in your confidence and commitment.
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