If you’ve suffered a smoking relapse and now you’re back to smoking cigarettes or some other tobacco product, do not beat yourself up over it. Everybody slips sometimes. As the old saying goes, “to err is human.” The less-known second line of that poem — “to forgive, divine” — is exactly the right reaction. Be kind to yourself.
Here are nine tips to get back on track after a smoking slip for both non-vapers and current enthusiasts.
Don’t Give Up on Giving Up
Giving up cigarettes is hard; never underestimate how hard it is. It is a physical addiction as well as a social and personal habit. Addictionis one part of the battle, and changing your behaviouris the other. For some people, it can sometimes take weeks, months and even years to stop smoking altogether.
There are times and social occasions when you will experience temptation. Perhaps you are away for a bit of well-deserved R&R for a few days, on holiday abroad, or on a work trip. You are already a vaper, but forgot to pack your vaping kit or need more tasty e-liquids, only to find no vaping shop in sight. With a corner grocery shop or cigarette vending machine just around the corner, the old cravings can hit fast.
There are many personal and social triggers for relapses back to smoking. The trick is, if you do have a slip, to not let it become a permanent one. When you are giving up smoking, believe that it’s possible, and you are halfway there.
Face the Smoking Relapse Head On
If you start to falter, remind yourself what motivated you to stop smoking or switch to vaping in the first place. What were your reasons? Was it that the toxins in cigarettes are badfor your health? Are you saving money for upcoming nuptials, a house, or a trip overseas?
Do you remember a loved one with lung cancer or COPD struggling to breathe? Did your children see some social marketing message on quitting smoking and voice their concerns about your habit?
Reflect on the reasons why you decided to stop smoking or switched to vaping initially,and hold them close.
Mind Over Matter
Use phrases that help you turn around your thinking about smoking. For example, tell yourself that you do not smoke, or that you used to smoke but do not anymore. Reinforcing what you want to do with how you think about it is a strongmethod to help get you back on track and stay there.
Mantras may not be your style, but simple dialogue to yourself and externally to others around you can work wonders. Turn your thinking around to becoming a non-smoker.
Celebrate Your Success
As cliché as it sounds, celebrate your success. Do not think about your past behaviour. Instead, think about how many cigarettes you had not smoked since the day you quit for good. Or acknowledge the length of time — how many days, weeks or months — you had gone without a cigarette.
Give yourself a hugepat on the back for that. What you have achieved by not smoking is something to celebrate and, if you relapse, you’ll know you can do it again.
Participate in new research on smoking relapses in combination with vaping and e-cigs if that is a solution working for you. Because vaping is still a relatively new phenomenon, there are many in the health and social science sector keen to explore it further to weigh the pros and cons. Studies thus far indicate that tobacco use is more harmful, which can debunk some of the public perception about e-cigarettes.
You know what your triggers are and which situations or scenarios tempt you to smoke, so avoid them for a while until you know you have beaten the urge. Your trigger might be when you are socialisingafter a tiring day, relaxing with a coffee, or in times of stress.
If you bought a full packet of cigarettes, throw them away and go back to your vaper straight away if you were using one. Rip them up into tiny shreds and douse them with water before putting them in the rubbish bin. It might sound extreme, but that way there is no temptation to gather them up and salvage them later!
Flushing them down the loo is, of course, another option, but do you reallywant to send all those toxins out to sea? A much better indulgence is to enjoy your vape with a favourite flavour.
If you are not currently a vaper, do some online research and ask around to see if vaping may be a good way to stop smoking for you. Other traditional alternatives to help you resist the urge include nicotine patches, gum and lozenges. Some alternative options recommend replacing the cigarette smoking habit with a similar hand to mouth action, such as using a toothpick or floss after a meal instead of reaching for a smoke. Thisis obviouslya win-win and a bonus for your dental hygiene!
If you feel you need additional support, contact a health professional. They can connect you with support groups who offer valuable advice and phone, web and text support for smoking cessation. Connecting with vaping communities may also help, both in person or online. Within either community, you are sure to find you are not alone if you have a relapse.
Cigarette smoking is a little like a bad relationship you have left behind. Every so often, you want to revisit what once brought your joy. Eventually, though, you realize you have changed, andit is time to move on. Leave your past behind and look to a future without smoking!