A New Normal Offers New Ways To Quit.
Much of 2020 has been spent working from home, practicing social distancing and wearing masks in public. When COVID-19 first hit, these adjustments had to be made almost overnight. In the time since, these new ways of life have become normal. This new normal, however, hasn’t been easy. For thousands of tobacco users in the middle of quitting, the stress of the pandemic may have steered them back.
For anybody thinking about quitting tobacco – or quitting again – it’s critical to understand how new routines can help achieve a healthier, tobacco-free life. Let’s look at a few ways this new normal could be the perfect springboard to quitting tobacco.
COVID-19 and Tobacco Use
Smoking and vaping damage the lungs, which limits the organ’s ability to respond to viruses. The CDC reports that smokers and vape users are at a higher risk of developing serious or deadly COVID-19 symptoms. Quitting tobacco is the best way to defend against these symptoms.
Managing Pandemic Stress While Quitting
More than 200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. Millions have lost their jobs and are experiencing financial hardship. This is a stressful time, but for those quitting tobacco, adopting new habits is essential to manage stress. Here are a few ideas:
Limit Screen Time
While this is easier said than done, it gives your mind a much-needed break from the news — and the noise — of each day. Adopt a ban on phones from the bedroom. Make bedtime your quiet time. Eliminate screens from the dinner table. Use the free, built-in apps on your device to limit the amount of time you spend on your phone. Disable auto-play on streaming apps and take a quick walk between episodes.
Exercise in Disguise
Walking really works to beat stress (no sweat required). Here’s one way to make your walks even better: Plug in some earphones and queue up your favorite music. Or, try a podcast or audiobook. Sooner rather than later, you’ll be looking forward to heading out the door.
Clear the Tobacco Clutter
Change your spaces to tobacco-proof your life! Remove ashtrays, lighters and other tobacco clutter from your home and car. Wipe down surfaces to remove tobacco residue. These are quick and easy ways to transform your former smoking areas.
Nothing cramps your style like cravings. They come on hard and fast. What can you do to combat them? Drink a glass of water or brush your teeth. Chew sugar-free gum. Or, close your eyes, breathe and remind yourself why quitting is so important to you.
Remember, the Helpline is here with numerous tips, tricks and resources to help you become – and stay – tobacco free.
Indoor Dining & Social Gatherings
Triggers are a real factor when quitting. Smoky bars, large social gatherings and family events are a few settings where temptations to slip are bountiful.
Fortunately, the new normal can be used to your advantage. How? Ask for a socially distanced meetup at a park or outside a friend’s house. The fresh air and small group setting will help you steer clear of urges.
One more thing: Let your friends and family know that you are quitting. By including them in your plans, they can help you be on the lookout for triggers. Quitting isn’t a solo effort!
Your Mask = Your Shield
By now, remembering to grab a mask before leaving the home is second nature — and for good reason. We know wearing masks is the most effective way of preventing the spread of the virus.
How can your mask help you quit tobacco? Simply put, removing it in public to smoke puts you at risk of catching the virus from others nearby. Remember, continuing to smoke increases your risk of developing deadly symptoms, so think of your mask as your shield — and removing it before lighting up leaves you exposed.
Your mask is your new barrier between your lungs and outside forces — including tobacco!
Working From Home
For those working from home, now is a great time to work new healthy habits – like quitting – into your daily routine.
Walks around the neighborhood are perfect to get the blood flowing and your mind off work. Nothing beats a stroll around the block, hearing the birds sing and feeling the breeze. Plus, smartphone health apps are a great way to track steps and distance. For those quitting, making these walks a daily or weekly challenge is a great way to track progress as your tobacco-free body begins to strengthen itself.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
There is one thing about working from home that gets universal praise: No more commuting. How can this help you quit? Fewer trips to the gas station equals fewer trips to the convenience store where tobacco products are so prominently displayed. See no tobacco, buy no tobacco!
In addition, less time behind the wheel also means less stress. Eliminating commute time, traffic jams, crazy drivers and the cost of gasoline helps eliminate the old days of commuting-related stress.
The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline Puts You On The Path
COVID-19 has impacted countless lives around the world and right here in Oklahoma. With a few tweaks, this new normal is full of opportunities to become tobacco free. As always, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is here with free tools and resources to help you quit — including free nicotine replacement therapy and Quit Coaching. To get started, visit OKhelpline.com or call 1-800-QUIT NOW.