While the holidays can be a time of joy, excitement, and fun, they can also bring up difficult emotions – sadness, loss, grief. There can be challenges associated with our families, stress and conflict, financial pressures, and social situations that can trigger us toward unhealthy behaviors. The change in season can also impact our mood and energy level.
If you don’t experience these challenges during the holiday season, that’s great, too! It’s also perfectly normal to experience depression, anxiety, stress, or fatigue during this time of year. The messages we get from TV or the media may paint one picture, but we understand that’s not the full story.
We know from working with individuals in recovery from tobacco-use, that stress can be a big trigger. But the holidays and New Year are also a great time to recommit to quit! Here are some tips to help you stay tobacco-free this holiday season:
Identify and avoid triggers
Urges for tobacco are likely to be strongest in the situations where you used tobacco most often, such as at parties or bars, in the car, or while watching television. Identify your trigger situations and have a plan in place to avoid them entirely or get through them without using tobacco.
Move your body
Physical activity can help distract you from tobacco cravings and reduce the intensity of cravings. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity can make a tobacco craving go away. For physical activity ideas, tips, and places to be active, check out Philly Powered. You could also try meditation, journaling, doodling, or cooking to keep your mind and hands occupied.
Practice relaxation techniques
In the past, smoking may have been your way to deal with stress. Resisting a tobacco craving can itself be stressful. Take the edge off stress by practicing relaxation techniques. These include deep-breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, yoga, or massage.
Call for reinforcements
Touch base with a family member, friend or support group member for moral support in your effort to resist a tobacco craving. Chat on the phone, go for a walk together or simply share a few laughs. You can also call the PA Free Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) for free coaching and quit smoking medications.
- Check out our full list for more tips for staying quit.
- The Holiday Survival Guide from Mazzoni is an excellent collection of resources and tips for getting through this time of year – everything from maintaining sobriety during the holidays, to celebrating in a multicultural family, LGBTQ-specific resources, to mindfulness and breathing exercises.
- Healthy Minds Philly is another local resource from DBHIDS for promoting mental health and well-being.
Whatever the holidays may bring up for you, we wish you and your loved ones a peaceful, healthy, and tobacco-free season. With great thanks and appreciation to our partners at Mazzoni and DBHIDS for thoughtfully compiling the above resources, we hope you find them useful. And please feel free to share with someone in your life who may need a little extra TLC!
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