November 21 is the Great American Smokeout
(Toms River) – November 21 is the Great American Smokeout; a time we encourage smokers to kick the habit once and for all. But smoking isn’t easy to stop and it takes time. If you’ve ever tried to break the habit before then you know the first few weeks are the toughest. And if you recently stopped smoking and are anxious about the temptation to light up with holidays fast approaching you’re not alone.
“Resisting the urge to smoke may be a bit more difficult with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays,” explains Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “But if you have a slip, don’t stress. Just pick up where you left off and remind yourself that you’re back on the road toward a healthier life and reducing your cancer risk.”
Here are some important tips to keep your mind off smoking during the holiday season:
- Be a host. Consider hosting the family dinner to keep yourself busy. If you prefer to be a guest then make a special dish you’d like to bring.
- Don’t overdo it. Without smoking, you might be inclined to go overboard with the holiday feasting. Be aware of how much you’re eating and drinking; it may be easy to give in to these other temptations. If you do overdo it, forgive yourself. Remember, next year it won’t be as hard.
- Try to stay away from alcohol. Stick to sugar-free seltzer, punch without alcohol, club soda, or apple cider. This will curb the urge to light up when drinking and can also help keep off extra pounds.
- Avoid spicy and sugary foods. Spicy and sugary foods tend to make people crave cigarettes more.
- Nibble on low-calorie foods. Low-calorie foods such as carrot sticks, apples, and other healthy snacks, can help satisfy your need for crunch without adding extra pounds.
- Stretch out meals. Eat slowly and pause between bites to make a meal more satisfying. For dessert, grab an orange or tangerine, or crack some nuts – something that will keep your hands busy, too.
- Keep busy at parties. Serving snacks and meeting guests will help keep your mind off smoking. If the urge to smoke presents itself, put something in your hand other than a cigarette.
- Treat yourself to something special. Celebrate being a non-smoker. Think about buying yourself that special something you’ve been wanting.
- Cope with frustration. Any added frustration can leave you wanting a cigarette. Take along your favorite magazine or book, check your email, or text a friend while waiting in lines. When you feel you’re about to lose control, stop and think.
“Remember, smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. And more than 16 million Americans have a smoking-related disease,” advises Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator. Some of the benefits of stopping are that it lowers your risk for diabetes, lets blood vessels work better and helps your heart and lungs.”
Here are a few more suggestions to help you throughout the year:
- Take one day at a time. When you wake up each morning, make the promise you won’t smoke a cigarette that day. A day at a time keeps the whole thing more manageable.
- Picture your success. Plan ahead and think of how you’ll deal with stressful situations without turning to cigarettes.
- Take a breather. Relaxation exercises can help relieve your urge to smoke. Take a deep breath, hold it for a second, then release it very slowly. Or, stand up and stretch while you take a few deep breaths. Remember, the urge to smoke is only temporary. It will pass.
- Work out. Physical activity helps relieve tension and the urge to smoke. Exercise will also help burn off any extra pounds.
- Make friends with people who don’t smoke or who have quit smoking. They can be your partners to help keep you busy and away from cigarettes. Plan time together and explore new outlets you might enjoy. Remember, you’re learning to be tobacco-free, and you need to find new places and activities to replace your old smoking-centered ones.
“Don’t forget that every day you don’t pick up a cigarette is a small victory,” Regenye added. “Soon those days will add up and you’ll be proud of just how far you’ve come on your journey to quit smoking.”
If you have any questions regarding how to stop smoking, please visit the Ocean County Health Department website at www.ochd.org or follow us on Twitter@OCpublichealth or like us on Facebook. Also, please check out our new website at www.phu2.org, to access and learn more about our Public Health is You Too! campaign to help equip you to take simple steps to improve your health.