Your main goals after you successfully quit smoking will be to maintain your success and stay smoke-free.
At some point, being smoke-free will replace the habit of smoking and it will feel more natural than smoking. Until that time, keep your attention focused on the things that keep you smoke-free.
Here are the top 10 goals you should set for at least the first 30 days after quitting smoking in order to maintain your progress.
- Write down in your journal everything positive that happened after you quit. Notice how you can taste your food more, how you can breathe easier, or how much money you've saved. Write the most powerful differences on a card, carry it with you, and read it often to make yourself feel good or use it in situations when you feel tempted to smoke.
- Hang out in places where smoking is not allowed. It makes you feel better about your decision not to smoke, makes not smoking feel more normal for you, and helps you avoid temptation.
- Avoid testing yourself with "just one." Your brain will respond immediately to a cigarette and will start pushing you for more.
- Avoid criticizing or punishing yourself if you have weak moments. Research shows it doesn't usually help - it only makes you feel bad, which in turn, may make you want to reach for a cigarette even more. Emotions are a natural cause for cravings, so don't spark them yourself.
- Keep your personal space (house, car, workplace) smoke-free. Research shows that people who make their personal spaces smoke-free have better success remaining a non-smoker.
- Keep cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, and other reminders of smoking out of your personal space. Research also shows that these things signal your brain to want cigarettes, just like a red light signals you to stop your car.
- Find things to keep yourself feeling good. Cigarettes used to help you feel good. It's time to figure out what else makes you feel good - physical activity, work on your house, hobbies, volunteering, playing in a sports league, coaching, cooking, gardening, and many more.
- Learn to deal with lack of support. Not everyone is going to support you when you quit. Some people may feel defensive, threatened, left out, believe "things have changed," or feel pressure to change themselves. They may need some time to figure out what your changes mean for them, and how to adapt. Be as supportive of them as you can without ruining your chances of success.
- Learn to use problem-solving skills. If you find yourself wavering, write down the details of the problem (don't guess). Write down at least 5 solutions, no matter how far out they are. Don't criticize any of them. Then choose as many as possible. Try them alone and in combination - start right away. Record what happens. Tinker with the solutions until you find the ones that work for each situation.
- To prevent relapse, prepare in advance for situations that you know tempt you. Prepare a strategy to deal with each one.
- What will you tell yourself to coach yourself through the temptation? Write it on a card. Carry it with you. It's too difficult to remember in the heat of the moment.
- Who will you ask for help? What will you ask them to do - distract you, encourage you, go for a walk?
- What will you do? Leave the situation, distract yourself, clean a closet, drink cold water, eat a hard candy, run around the block, mow the lawn? Practice your techniques in your mind and for real as often as you can so they become a more natural response than smoking.
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