How do I avoid a relapse after quitting smoking?

The following are tips for remaining tobacco-free:
  • Track your journey. Nothing motivates like success. Put an "X" on your calendar for every day you go without tobacco.
  • Revisit your reasons. Fight temptation by reminding yourself of all the reasons you want to quit.
  • Switch to your substitutes. Instead of focusing on what you can't do (smoke, chew, dip), focus on what you can do.
  • Talk it up. Be careful not to let old ways of thinking overtake the new patterns you're trying to establish. Talk about your success ("two days smoke-free!") not just your fears of failure. Most importantly, don't let yourself make excuses for going back to tobacco.
  • Talk it out. Reach out to the people on your support team. Ask them to be patient if you're irritable, and to support you when you're tempted.
  • Mix things up. A change of environment or routine can really help you get off to a good start. So for the first week or two, mix things up a bit. Stay away from places that allow smoking. Spend more time with friends who don't smoke, chew, or dip. Drive a different route to work. Start a new hobby or habit to fill in the space left by your previous tobacco habit.
  • Get help. Talking to a tobacco cessation counselor or logging onto an online support group may strengthen your resolve.
  • Ease stress. Quitting is stressful, and a particularly stressful event -- a bad day at work, an argument at home -- can make you feel like you "deserve" or "need" tobacco. Try these things instead:
  • Exercise: Walk, swim, or bike the tension away.
  • Laugh: See a comedy. Seek out a lighthearted friend.
  • Relax: Do yoga or deep breathing. Take a long, hot bath. Work some crosswords. Put on some music.
Take it one day at a time. You don't have to solve every problem today or commit to a lifetime of perfection. Try not to think of the rest of your life at all! Just do your best, day by day.
  • If you slip up, get back on track. Smoking one cigarette -- or more than one cigarette -- doesn't mean you've failed. Same with chew and dip. It just means that you have to bolster your resolve and try again. Remember how long you went without tobacco before? This shows you can go without. You can do it again, and go even longer. You can quit forever.
  • Celebrate. You're achieving something difficult -- so feel good about yourself! Reward yourself for being tobacco-free. Write down some things to look forward to as you make your goals.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.