For many folks, smoking can become integral to the way they relate with others. At times, it can be a way to connect with friends in happiness or a way to communicate “I need to be alone” after a disagreement with a loved one. Smoking can be an easy way to make new acquaintances when stepping outside or to help manage feelings of loneliness or boredom. When actively smoking, it may be hard for some folks to imagine being social without a cigarette close by.
When stopping smoking, maintaining social connections and getting support is essential. It is important to determine what supportive behavior looks like to each of us. Some folks enjoy talking regularly about their progress, while others are fueled by the thoughtful actions of others who help reduce life stressors. Regardless of the kind of support you prefer, it is necessary to be able to effectively communicate your needs to your social network.
Here are some conversation topics to chew on when considering how to get support from others:
1. “ Be patient with me.”
We want others to understand what a huge lifestyle change this is for us. Frustration, difficulty concentrating, and moodiness can be common emotions when going through this process. While you can plan ways to deal with these ups and downs, asking for patience and understanding can go a long way in avoiding hurt feelings.
2. “Celebrate my efforts.”
Many who have quit smoking like to mark their anniversaries such as being quit for one weeks, 30 days, etc. A small celebration such as going out for dinner, taking in a movie, or just having quality time together at home are ways to recognize these accomplishments and boost our resistance to stress and cravings.
3. “Be available when I am having a difficult day.”
For some, this may mean spending time together going for a walk around the block or shopping at the mall. For others, it can simply mean listening - without offering suggestions or advice - over a cup of coffee. Having a literal or figurative shoulder to lean on can help reinforce our motivations to stay smoke-free.
Deciding to stop smoking does not mean we need to give up a social life. In fact, being social and having the support of others is perhaps more important now than when we were smoking. Choose your support group thoughtfully and don’t be afraid to tap into it when needed. Just ask the countless members of EX who have successfully quit with the support of others!