“Becoming a nonsmoker requires learning new skills,” said Jennifer McClure, PhD, a Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) scientist who leads the institute’s tobacco studies. “You can learn from every attempt to quit smoking and use your new skills to be more successful the next time.” And if you pay attention to when and why you slipped and started smoking again, you’ll be better prepared to stay quit the next time you stop smoking. Think of each attempt as practice or training for your future success.
In her research, McClure has explored the benefits of being mindful and accepting of unwanted thoughts and behaviors when quitting smoking. This can help you observe, acknowledge, and accept your cravings to smoke, your emotions, and your thoughts — and to allow these to come and go without smoking. And if you do slip, being mindful and accepting can also help you recommit to quitting.
Follow these important steps each time you slip:
Get back on the wagon.
A slip doesn’t mean a total relapse. Accept that you slipped and then return to staying quit.
Don’t beat yourself up. Feeling bad may make you want to smoke more.
It’s important to celebrate daily, weekly, and monthly successes. In the beginning, celebrate your freedom from tobacco hourly, daily, and weekly. Keep this simple goal in mind: Beat your previous best.
Say you made it 2 weeks without smoking the last time before you slipped. Use that marker as your first goal to beat this time around. Keeping this milestone in mind will really help you increase your chances of staying quit.
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