As another holiday season approaches, it’s important to take time to consider how this time of year can impact your tobacco reduction goals. For many, this time of year can be incredibly motivating when it comes to commercial tobacco reduction due to weather changes, time spent with friends and family, and the feeling of a “fresh start” as we ring in a new year. However, like any holiday, a variety of emotions are in play including joy, love, stress, sadness, loneliness, nostalgia, and more. These feelings can often be exacerbated by established traditions and the media putting additional pressure on us to have the “perfect holiday”.
We know when it comes to smoking cessation that emotions can play a major role in both successes and challenges faced. We also know that having a plan and preparing for challenges when reducing can help people feel more ready to stick to their reduction goals. But what are some ways you can prepare for the holiday when reducing your use?
Tips for Tobacco Reduction and the Holidays
- Get enough rest. Exhaustion will only leave you feeling more stressed which may increase the urge to smoke. Do your best to make sure you are getting enough sleep at night or schedule out times to have a nap during the day when needed. This will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to participate in events and gatherings.
- Set boundaries – it’s okay to say no! To extra visits, events, financial commitments, or other stressors. The holidays can be a nostalgic time for many of us, and that can often lead to pressure to make sure things are a certain way or are exactly the same as previous years. But sometimes this can lead to over-exertion and increased stress. Sit down with your loved ones to discuss plans and responsibilities and suggest changes that might need to be made ahead of time. Making sure everyone is on the same page can go a long way in preventing unexpected stressors.
- Have a replacement method on hand. Cravings are tough, and sometimes can occur at unexpected moments. Plan to have something on hand like a snack, a fidget toy or stress ball, a puzzle book, gum, or anything else that has been helpful in coping with cravings. Make sure you always know where it is so you can easily access it when you are dealing with a challenging moment.
- Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated can help improve your mood and leave you feeling more energetic, especially when activities and events are keeping you busy. Additionally, a glass of water can be a great way to cope with cravings without picking up tobacco.
- Don’t beat yourself up IF things don’t go your way. Like any other major event in our lives, the holidays are prone to not having everything go exactly as planned. This is also true for plans surrounding reduction and cessation efforts. While it is important to plan to help yourself succeed in your goals, it’s equally important to extend yourself grace IF things don’t turn out the way you planned. Remember: small slip ups do not have to impact or prevent your long term success. Give yourself the chance to get back on track with your goals rather talking yourself into abandoning them.
- Take time to enjoy the season. Regardless of your plans or traditions, the end of the year can be a great time to reconnect with loved ones and find joy. Both of which can support your goals with reduction. Take time to enjoy everything you love about this time of year OR find opportunities to make new happy memories to look back on next year. Remember, regardless of where you are with your reduction plans: you deserve the chance to relax and enjoy time with the ones you love.
Tobacco Reduction resources and supports
When developing a quit or reduction plan, we often discuss the importance of having support whether it comes from a TTS, a friend, a coworker, or anyone else in your life. But the holidays can impact availability and your access to them. Because of this, it’s good to have additional resources prepared to fall back on when you’re facing a challenging moment. Such resources might include:
- A Quitline service: the Michigan Quitlink has available services for support including online and phone-based support and available 24/7.
- Check out the Quit Plan Builder at Smokefree.gov for an easy option to develop or alter your quit or reduction plan.
- Phone applications can offer assistance in tracking your days quit and motivation reminders, as well as tips and other resources when facing tough moments.
- Have a designated friend/family member that you can reach out to when you’re in need of support. Having this set up in advance allows you to know who is going to be available for a check in and when.
The holidays can be a joyful yet tumultuous time for many. New or additional challenges or stressors DO NOT have to prevent you in reaching your goals. Take time now to make a plan so you can feel prepared and in control of your reduction efforts this season.
For more tips you can check out our video for navigating reducing your tobacco use during the holidays and articles like this one.
Have any questions or are looking to reduce commercial tobacco use?
Reach out to our tobacco reduction team:
Tobacco Treatment Coordinator