High Risk Situations

There are certain situations when you are more likely to want to smoke. It’s important to identify these high risk situations and to make a plan to reduce your risk of relapse. Changing your lifestyle can help support your decision to quit smoking and stay stopped. After you deal with the risky situation a few times, you’ll become more confident in the future and less likely to relapse. Click on each high risk situation below:

 You can get advice on how to cope with your own high risk situations by starting your quit plan today.

Coping with stress

Every time you smoke your body produces adrenaline, the ‘fight-or-flight’ hormone, that actually makes you more stressed, it raises you blood pressure and increases you heart rate. So you might think that a cigarette helps you cope with stress but it actually does the opposite. If you would normally reach for a cigarette when you feel stressed try some of the tips below.

Tips for coping with stress:

  • Work it off by taking a walk in the fresh air or a run around the house.
  • Talk to someone you really trust.
  • Learn to accept what you cannot change.
  • Don’t self-medicate with alcohol, cannabis, too much coffee or tranquillizers.
  • Get enough sleep and rest to recharge your batteries.
  • Take time out for activities that you really enjoy or try out some new ones such as yoga, Tai Chi, aromatherapy.
  • Doing something for others can make you feel good too.
  • Take one thing at a time.
  • Sometimes it’s best to agree with someone instead of life being a constant battleground. 
  • Prioritise your day ahead and only do the things you have to do.
  • Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’.
  • Plan ahead by saying ‘no’ now.
  • If you are ill, don’t try to carry on as if you’re not.
  • Develop a hobby. It’s important to have time out from your family and your work.     
  • Only you can change the way you react to stress.  Think creatively about how to manage your life better and get on with it!
  • Eating good meals at regular times will help your mood.
  • Use a stress reduction technique every day, such as deep breathing. 
  • Know when you are tired and do something about it.
  • Delegate responsibility. A few minutes spent getting someone else to help you will be time well spent if it makes your day less hectic.
  • Be realistic about what you can achieve. Forget perfection.



Managing Good and Bad Moods

You may have low moods, bad moods, increased anxiety or irritability when you stop smoking. These are temporary feelings and will get easier after the first four weeks. You may over react to things that normally wouldn’t bother you. This is normal.  You are not used to coping with life without cigarettes and it may make you irritable. Try to find new ways of coping with emotions like anger, upset, annoyance, stress.

These tips may help you cope:

  • Remind yourself that your choice to smoke or not to smoke is still there.
  • Discover new ways of dealing with negative feelings rather than reaching for a cigarette.
  • Remind yourself that the feeling is temporary; it will go away.
  • Congratulate yourself for coping with life without smoking.
  • Ask others to understand and be patient.
  • Do things that make you feel good.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.

Getting good or bad news

You may be used to reaching for a cigarette when you get good news or bad news. Smoking will not change the good or bad news or help the situation. It will only reduce your chance of quitting for good. Have a good cry, tell someone how you are feeling. Take 20 slow deep breaths over a period of a few minutes to help relax.

Alcohol and socialising

Alcohol could weaken your resolve to stop smoking and stay stopped.  Most smokers associate a drink with a smoke so consider changing your drink or cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink, especially during the first few weeks. 

Swap hands if you used to smoke with one particular hand and hold your drink in that hand instead. 

Use your common sense about going to pubs after you quit.  You may be able to cope in week 3 but it’s probably a bad idea to go to a wild party on day 1!



Making excuses to smoke

Beware of the following excuses to smoke:

  • Keeping a pack of cigarettes in the house
  • Buying cheap tobacco ‘for friends’ while on holiday
  • Lighting or holding other people’s cigarettes
  • Getting so drunk that you forget you are trying to quit
  • Sitting in smoking areas ‘just for a chat’
  • Thinking that smoking ‘doesn’t count’ if:
    • It is a joint
    • It is an ultra-light cigarette
    • It is someone else’s cigarette
    • No-one sees you smoke it
    • You didn’t actually buy any cigarettes
    • You are on holiday
  • Offering to ‘look after’ someone else’s cigarettes
  • Thinking ‘There’s so much smoke in here, I might as well smoke myself’
  • When craving, going to see a smoking friend for a ‘heart to heart’
  • Picking an argument with your partner or friend who smokes, knowing that in the end they will tell you to shut up and have a cigarette (and may be in a position to give you one)

Being around people who smoke

You’re free to be like them but is that what you really want? Deep down I bet they wish they could quit too.

  • Smile! Say ‘NOPE’ – Not One Puff Even!
  • Practice saying ‘No thanks I don’t smoke’ in front of the mirror each day.
  • Ask friends and family who smoke to help you by not offering you cigarettes and not smoking around you.
  • Ask them to smoke outside.

Move away from smokers until you feel in control of yourself again. Look around for people who are not smoking.


Habits and routines

Morning - Change your routine. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash first thing.

After meals - Brush your teeth, do the dishes, move to another room or call a friend.

Tea or coffee - Change to fruit juices or water. Use different flavoured teas such as chamomile. Change the hand that you hold the cup in.
Telephone - Chew sugarless gum or drink water through a straw. When on your mobile phone, walk away from where the cigarettes are.

Driving - Listen to music, sing, chew sugarless gum, drink bottled water, deep breathe, count backwards from 100.

Before bed - Change your routine. Have a bath, go to bed early and read a book.