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Mary Ella’s Weekly Message
October 1, 2010
Slip or Relapse
What’s the difference between a slip and relapse? A slip is unintentional; it’s a spur of the moment lapse in judgment when temptation takes over and you have a cigarette. After a slip, usually strong feelings of guilt and remorse are felt. Although a slip can lead to relapse, it doesn’t have to. Think of a slip as getting lost on your way to somewhere. You don’t give up the whole trip because you’re lost. You find your way to the correct road and keep going on to your destination.
A relapse is more serious than a slip. It may start with a slip, but quickly escalates into old patterns of behavior and before you know it you could be smoking as much as you did before your Quit Day. Using the same trip analogy, you get lost and you make a decision that you’re not going to your destination, but you’re going to continue down another path instead.
There are many reasons for slips and for relapse. Think about your feelings if you slip. If you start thinking that you can’t quit, you won’t be successful and you might as well give up. Change those thoughts immediately! Tell yourself instead that you’re working hard to stay on the smokefree path, that you are strong and that you are getting right back on track. Change those thoughts of deprivation into thoughts of determination.
Planning is the key in preventing slips and relapse. If you don’t want to slip, don’t go to slippery places! It is important to consider what might lead to a slip, and then avoid those slippery places until you’re feeling stronger. Make a plan for what to do if temptation comes your way. If you tried quitting before, think of what pulled you back into that familiar smoking behavior. What will you do differently this time if faced with the same temptation? Think about how you cope with stress. What are three healthy ways you can cope with stress instead of reaching for that pack?
If boredom pulled you back, find new ways to keep yourself busy. Maybe there are hobbies that you’d like to get back to or something new you’d like to try. What about spending your time as a volunteer? There are many organizations that need volunteers, and you can donate your time just for an afternoon, for a few weeks or for a long-term commitment.
If social settings bring on temptation, ask your friends to do something different with you in a smokefree environment. Maybe you could take in a movie, or go to a mall, or a smokefree restaurant instead of meeting at your usual place if it allows smoking.
Reward yourself! It’s really important to recognize those milestones that you’re meeting and giving yourself a treat to reinforce your new behavior. Reward yourself with something that’s meaningful to you. It could be as simple as taking an hour to go to your local library or bookstore to sit down and read an interesting magazine in a peaceful setting.
You have worked so hard to gain your freedom—nothing is worth jeopardizing that with a slip that could lead to relapse.
This is my top ten list of ways to cope with a slip:
- Make a new plan to cope with cravings.
- Keep your list of reasons to quit with you so that you can look at it when you feel tempted.
- Concentrate on the benefits of quitting.
- Ask family members, co-workers and friends to support your effort to stay smokefree, and give them specific suggestions of ways that they can help you.
- Tell yourself, over and over again, "I can QUIT smoking!" Smile when you say that!
- Practice deep breathing.
- Drink water—lots of it.
- Sign a contract with your buddy to stay smokefree for 48 hours. When that time is up, sign another one.
- Increase your physical activity. Spend 30 minutes today being active.
- Reward yourself with something meaningful to you.
Don’t let one slip, or a day of slipping or a weekend of slipping get a grip on you. You’re in the right place to help yourself!
I’ll see you on the Message Boards! :-) Mary Ella
Don’t forget: If you’re in the Premium program and want help fast on the Message Boards, put “HELP NOW” in the subject line of your post. If you’re looking to offer help, watch for those, “HELP NOW” posts and alert your other FFS Online buddies to offer some assistance as well.