If you’re one of the millions who struggle to hold back from the temptations of the festive season, you should also be applying some ice to your wrists.
That’s the verdict of leading psychologist Jo Hemmings.
Jo – who is a regular on TV shows reckons a chilly dab can be the perfect foil to our biggest festive desires.
She explains: “The reward centre sends out an initial positive message when we give in to these cravings and so it becomes incredibly difficult to resist.
“One idea is to rub a few drops of iced water into your wrists – especially if you are beginning to feel jittery – as it’s known to reduce the temptation!”
Jo was giving her top tips for not giving in to temptation over the busy Christmas period – and speaking in particular about avoiding the urge for cigarettes.
As the festive season approaches, it can feel increasingly difficult to go smoke-free or stay on track if you have recently decided to give up smoking.
But fear not! Below, Jo has given five key strategies you can put in place that will help you cope with the increased pressure of picking up a cigarette during the upcoming festive period.
Make a ‘goal focused’ plan
Jo says: “Reward yourself with a small treat if you give up for a week, then another after a month and perhaps a big one, maybe a holiday or break away, if you manage six months or a year.”
Holdmylight.co.uk is a new and exciting approach to help smokers give up cigarettes for a month with the added help of incentives from friends. It’s ideal for those looking to create a goal focused plan.
Jo says: “There are definite trigger points that reduce our resistance and willpower, so often the key is to either adopt coping mechanisms that will make those situations a little easier to deal with or change your habits and create a new routine.
“Triggers can range from smoking shelters and too much alcohol to simply surrounding yourself with friends who smoke.
“When friends or family go outside for a cigarette, have an escape route planned. For example, call a friend or go to the loo to top up your makeup and break that routine of heading to the designated smoking spot.
“It’s also not the easiest time of year to regulate your alcohol intake, but given that booze is the number one reason people succumb to having a cigarette, it’s worth monitoring your drinking, by maybe having a soft drink between glasses of your tipple, to help keep your resolve.
“Your head might thank you for it in the morning too!”
Quit together with a smoker friend
It’s been well documented that one-to-one support is the most popular tool for quitting smoking.*
Jo says positive moral support from family and friends can be invaluable and feels having someone gently encouraging in a non- judgmental manner, will be incredibly beneficial through the Christmas period.
The Hold My Light campaign is centred around enrolling friends, family or colleagues to help you give up cigarettes and provides smokers with a choice of ways to go smoke-free. More information can be found on the Hold My Light website.
Go smoke-free in four steps
Hold My Light has been designed to break down a big challenge into more manageable steps – maximising your chances of going smoke-free.
- Decide – to go smoke-free for 30 days
- Choose – your best way to give up cigarettes
- Start – Hold My Light and ask your friends to help
- Stay – on track and enjoy your success
Jo says: “Those words of encouragement and ongoing empathetic support, especially from former smokers, really help, as it resonates with those trying to give up cigarettes, as they know their supporter has been in the same position and succeeded.”
With support from those around you, you can go completely smoke-free either through sheer willpower or by using smoking cessation aids such as nicotine patches and gums.
Get rid of all smoking paraphernalia
Jo says: “Throw out all of your lighters, old packets of cigarettes and ashtrays.
“If you’re struggling to stay smoke-free even after your attempts to quit using willpower or cessation products, look for smoke-free alternatives.”
And don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to invites
If you have to turn down a few party invites over Christmas to make going smoke-free a little easier, then do it.
You are not being a party-pooper and can go to them next year when they will feel much more manageable.