On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…….

Published at 05 December, 2023 15:52.

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A home that smells like Christmas dinner instead of smoke, a kiss under the mistletoe that doesn’t taste like an ashtray and more money for presents for the family under the tree! If your significant other has quit smoking during the “Stoptober” challenge, but you haven’t, why not take inspiration from their achievement and make this year's festive period a real reason to celebrate?

Let`s first bust the myth that stopping smoking will help relieve the stress that some people feel during all the preparations leading up to and on the big day itself. If you are stressed as the run-up to Christmas begins, try breathing exercises, get enough rest, and realise your limits. Remind yourself every day that smoking does not relieve stress and does not solve your problems. The problem or stress will still be there after you have smoked! Comfort yourself in a better way to relieve stress. Keep entertained with board games, which is a great way to involve the whole family and keep your mind and hands occupied simultaneously. Take some simple time out for yourself. Go for a walk and get some fresh air, exercise like Yoga if you can, relax in a warm bath or massage. It doesn’t have to be for long or take a lot of planning. Maybe do a crossword, a jigsaw, some knitting, or crochet. Urges to smoke as a response to stressful situations can happen because you may have spent years practising this behaviour, and busier times such as Christmas can bring on emotional responses and an urge to smoke. This is a trigger, and the more you learn what triggers you to smoke, the more you will feel in control of your quit attempt. Choose to respond to your triggers in a different way and choose not to smoke. The more you choose not to smoke, the more you realise that smoking is not a solution to you feeling stressed or upset.

Start practising this new behaviour as early as you can as you approach the festive period, and everything will feel more manageable, and so will your quit attempt. Remind yourself why you are quitting, and write down your reasons. Make your list a part of your seasonal decorations where you can see it daily. December is a great time to quit as you are busier with the run-up to the big day, buying presents, preparing food and decorations, and generally, you have a lot more to think about than smoking. Ditch the daily bind of smoking and gain a bigger bank balance, which will also help relieve the financial pressures of the holiday season.

Times of celebration can sometimes be risky situations for quitters. Good times can put you at risk of relapse as well as down times. Reduce alcohol if this is your trigger, and keep hydrated with a fruity mocktail instead. You will still feel part of the party! Tell people who will be with you that you have quit so they already know not to offer you cigarettes, especially if you have not seen them for a while and they always remember you as a smoker. Remember, there are no safe levels of smoking, and inhaling a small amount of smoke starts off the inflammatory process in the lungs. Practice saying, “No, I don`t smoke now” and experience how empowering it feels!

It might feel like a tricky time to quit, but if you think of December and the run-up to Christmas as the perfect time to quit, you will soon reap the benefits, and so will your family.

Even if you have a lot on your plate, your focus will be on something else. It`s a great time to stop smoking as it represents the whole spirit of Christmas and the most wonderful gift to give yourself and your loved ones for years to come!