Stage Five: Maintaining a Tobacco-Free Lifestyle

It feels good to be tobacco free, doesn't it? Your progress is something to applaud, quitting is challenging, and you've come through with flying colors. Your goal now is to make this change permanent.

A Slip Is Just a Slip

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Even though you're not using tobacco now, you may have times when you falter. That's okay. Do your best to stay 100% free of tobacco. Remember, the time to be concerned is if a slip turns into 2, then becomes 3 or more. Here are some comparisons between momentary slips and more serious relapses:

  • You take 1 puff and stop vs. having an entire cigarette.
  • You buy a tin of snuff, but then throw it away vs. stashing it in your car.
  • You smoke a single cigarette at the bar vs. lighting up every day on your commute to and from work.

Accept there will be times your urge for tobacco will be stronger than others, but overall you're going to remain tobacco free and feel good about your healthier lifestyle. If you slip it doesn't mean you're destined to fail.

To prepare for slips, list situations where you might be tempted to start smoking — along with ideas to avoid or recover from them.

  • Challenges that can prevent from quiting.
  • Solutions to deal with these challenges.

Staying Focused

Try not to become overconfident or forget how you achieved your goal. To stay focused on not smoking, try some of these ideas:

  • Remove the visible reminders of your old habit
  • Keep sugarless gum/candy, carrot sticks, and healthy snacks handy
  • Review the advantages of not smoking.
  • Offer to coach someone else through the process.

Complete the following:

To stay focused on not using tobacco today, I will...

To stay focused on not using tobacco this week, I will...

To stay focused on not using tobacco for good, I will...

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Stage Five: Maintaining a Tobacco-Free Lifestyle (<i>cont'd</i>)

Renewing Your Commitment

To avoid the "now what" syndrome of many achievers, create a new goal to deepen your resolve. It might be time to explore other lifestyle changes you've been considering.

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Write your new goal.

After you've been practicing a healthy behavior for some time, it's also a good idea to look back at why you wanted to change in the first place. Complete these 3 steps:

  1. Record the reasons you decided to stop using tobacco.
  2. Are your reasons for quitting the same today?
  3. Are there more or different reasons you want to stay tobacco free?

And in This Corner...

Supportive relationships are important in every stage of the behavior change process. Seek someone to be in your corner — a nonjudgmental, positive-minded believer in you. Someone working toward similar goals can provide great support, too. Once you've identified friends or family members to support you, list 2 or more things they can do to help.

Balancing Your Life

A sense of well-being and satisfaction in your life is an important factor in helping you maintain any healthy behavior. To help you achieve balance, try:

  • Deep breathing
  • Positive self-talk
  • Visualizing a pleasant place
  • Listening to music
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Laughing out loud
  • Watching a movie
  • Staying physically active
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Thinking optimistically
  • Keeping a journal
  • Volunteering for a good cause
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Finding a hobby
  • Viewing life's challenges as opportunities
  • Maintaining your personal values, goals, choices
  • Playing with a pet.

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Stage Five: Maintaining a Tobacco-Free Lifestyle (<i>cont'd</i>)

To help determine if your life is in balance, complete the following exercises. Draw a circle to represent the "pie" of your life. Then draw slices for the portion of time you spend in the areas listed as well as any others you care to mention:

  • Work
  • Family
  • Recreation
  • Friends
  • Self.

Now draw the slices again, showing how you would like to spend your time.

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Compare the slices. Are they the same? If not, which pieces would you like to change? Take a moment now to begin regaining the balance you desire by completing these statements.

One thing I can do today to regain balance in my life is...

Three things I can do this month to regain balance in my life are...

Now take a moment to record these actions in your day planner or other location you're sure to see in the days and weeks ahead.

Your New Way of Living

You're no longer trying to quit, you've done it! Now that tobacco is not part of your life, try to find other ways to continue reinforcing your healthy lifestyle. Complete the following statements as a way to begin.

I have not been successful maintaining this behavior change for long periods in the past because...

Steps I can take now to avoid slipping back into old habits in the months ahead include...

The people I expect will support me in remaining tobacco free include...

I will reward myself for maintaining my tobacco-free lifestyle by...

Others I may be able to help change their tobacco habits are...

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