Living Well with COPD

The holiday season can be a busy and stressful time, and you may ask yourself, “How can I quit tobacco now?” But you can quit no matter the season if you’re ready. Read on to find tips and strategies for kicking the habit and dealing with holiday obstacles.

Why Quit Tobacco?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) changes how much activity you can do on any given day. Normal tasks that you used to do without worry can be difficult now. So perhaps you’re wondering why you should quit tobacco. After all, the damage is already done. The answer is simple: You can get better and do more things you enjoy this holiday season and the next.

Tobacco-Free Holidays

Quitting tobacco is one of the best actions you can take for your health. We know you’ve heard that before, but that's because it’s true, especially if you have COPD. Your health improves within 20 minutes of quitting. So stub out that last cigarette and start healing.

The First Step

Do you want to quit? It may be the most important question you ask yourself. That’s because the first big step toward quitting is wanting to do it. If you’re not sure, think about the reasons you might have for quitting. You can make a list. When you do decide to quit, carry the list with you. This can help remind you that quitting is not just what you should do, but what you want to do. Don't be discouraged if it takes you a couple tries to kick the habit.

Some common reasons people want to quit include:

  • Breathing more easily

  • Decreasing the risk for cancer, heart attack, and stroke

  • Limiting secondhand smoke for loved ones

  • Saving money

  • Improving sense of smell and taste

  • Reducing shortness of breath and wheezing

Before the Holidays

If you’re going to quit tobacco this holiday season, you’ll have to prepare yourself for the obstacles you’ll face. Before the holidays, talk with your health care provider about nicotine replacement therapy. This helps you ease off of tobacco by giving you smaller and smaller amounts of nicotine over time. Also consider developing a “Quit Plan.” This will list the date you are going to quit, triggers you should avoid, how you plan to deal with urges, and who is going to help you. When you’ve written your plan, sign it to strengthen your commitment to quitting.

Create a Budget

Even in the best of times, the holidays can lead to spending too much money. Consider making a budget this year and sticking to it. You can also look to cut some expenses. This is especially important if you’re quitting because medicines may cost more than you typically spend on tobacco. You might have some unexpected expenses while quitting as well, such as dashing into a movie or eating out to avoid using tobacco. So think about how to keep control of your spending this year. Keep in mind that the best present you can give is a healthier you.

Coping with Holiday Stress

For the first few days after quitting you might be irritable, and the holidays can make it worse. Long lines at the grocery store, traffic, and worrying about presents and money is enough to make you reach for some tobacco. But you can be ready for the stress. Try any of the four methods below:

  1. Avoid stressors.Plan ahead. If traffic causes you stress, drive when there aren’t so many people on the road. 

  2. Change how you deal with stress. Instead of turning to tobacco when you’re stressed, do some breathing exercises or go for a short walk.

  3. Express yourself. You don’t have to handle stress alone. Reach out to family and friends and share how you’re feeling.

  4. Accept the stressors you can’t change. You can’t get rid of stress completely—understand that you will have good days and bad days.

Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself

Just because you’re quitting doesn’t mean you can’t have fun this holiday season. In fact, fun will help keep your mind off of using tobacco.

Use the Holidays to Your Advantage

Anyone who has quit will tell you it is difficult to stop thinking about tobacco. Since there is so much to do this time of year, you can use holiday chores to keep you busy. Shopping, cooking, wrapping presents, or just being with family and friends can help distract you from cravings. Here are some other ways to stay busy:

  • Volunteer a few hours at a shelter.

  • Make holiday cards for loved ones.

  • Play with your grandchildren.

  • Get out of the house for a walk.

  • Help decorate for the holidays.

Keep Doing the Things You Like

Don’t get so wrapped up in the holidays or quitting tobacco that you forget about doing the normal everyday things you like. Watch your favorite show or read the newspaper. You can also spend time with loved ones.

Take Time for Yourself

To reduce stress, your body needs relaxation. This can mean quiet time by yourself or listening to soft music. Be sure to take time for yourself every day. It can help you catch your breath and recharge your resolve to stay quit.

A Happy New Year

The new year is a perfect time to celebrate giving up tobacco. Even if it has only been a few weeks, congratulate yourself. And if you’re not able to quit before the holidays, make a resolution to put together a quit smoking plan. Then put your plan into action. For inspiration, just think of all the things you want to do in the new year and how much better they’ll be when you’re free of tobacco. The thought is enough to start the new year with hope.

If You Slip Up

Slipping up doesn’t mean you failed to quit. It doesn’t even mean you stopped trying to quit. It is just part of the process. The important thing is to not get upset at yourself about it. Most people who quit slip up. After all, quitting is not easy. But you can learn from your slipup. Just try to discover what triggered your tobacco use. Then renew your commitment so you can quit for good and live well.


© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.