Supporting a loved one while quitting is one of the most important aspect of giving up smoking. Remaining positive and constructive during this time may mean the difference between failure, and success.
Quitting isn’t only stressful for the person kicking the habit. It can be a strain on everyone around them: spouses, friends, family members, and coworkers. Being a supportive partner during this time is crucial to your loved one’s success. At times, you may have to put your own stress aside in order to help them through a craving, or to offer encouragement if there are bumps along the way.
How to Support a Loved One
Become educated: Your loved one is going through many emotional and physical changes during the initial withdrawal period. This can be uncomfortable, sometimes extremely so. Get educated on the effects nicotine withdrawals can have on a person’s body, and be prepared for the symptoms they may have along the way. Being prepared and knowing ahead of time what to expect will help lessen your own stress during the process, as well as allow you to assure your loved one that what they are experiencing is completely normal. The best place to become educated on smoking withdrawals is through your doctor, or by doing online research.
Don’t take it personally: Nicotine withdrawals can be uncomfortable, for both the smoker and those around them. If your loved one snaps at you, is irritable, or doesn’t seem to be acting like “themselves” during the first days or weeks following cessation of cigarettes, try not to take it personally. It’s not about you.
Encourage Physical Activity: Smokers are less likely to suffer intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms if they can stay busy. If your loved one seems on edge, recommend activities that may keep their mind off smoking. Activities that relieve stress and release endorphins, such as cardio exercise or weight lifting, may be even more beneficial if they are in good enough physical condition to participate.
Don’t dictate the process: You may think you would quit cold turkey. Or maybe you’ve heard great things about those patches they have at the pharmacy. What you would do and what your loved one feels capable of or comfortable with doing may not be the same, and that is okay. This is their process, and you have to let go of taking control. Offer encouragement, but don’t try to determine how and why they need to quit. This will only lead to discouragement for one or both of you if your loved one wants to do things in their own way and in their own time.
Avoid triggers…temporarily: If your loved one has always smoked while drinking coffee on the patio, avoid drinking coffee on the patio for a while. Once the cravings have subsided, it will be easier for them to deal with old triggers. For now, try your best to be accommodating. If you have to engage in trigger behaviors, do them with friends and don’t talk about them with the smoker. That said, eventually your loved one will have to become capable of resisting temptation on their own. Don’t become a crutch.
Recommend cessation tools: If your loved asks for advice, then your education on the subject of smoking cessation will come in handy. Learn about the various quitting aids, such as electronic cigarettes, and offer information about them if they feel that they can’t go it alone.
Take care of yourself: You may feel anxious about whether your loved one is really quitting for good. It might be tempting to oversee the process, or you may find yourself worrying incessantly about setbacks. Stop. Breathe. And realize that you don’t have control of the situation. This is easier said than done, especially if your loved one has smoking related health problems already. But for your own sake, try to relax. Get out of the house and do something for yourself. You’ll be much more supportive if setbacks do occur if you are replenished, nourished, and in a positive frame of mind.