Stoptober may not have gone as expected...


October 29, 2020

So you may have ended this month feeling like you’ve failed at something you really wanted to achieve having re-lapsed during Stoptober. Perhaps it was a stop-start attempt this past month and who can argue that it’s a very strange and turbulent time right now? Maybe you were going strong for 3 weeks and a serious stressful situation almost warranted a smoke? This can happen to anyone, and attempting a lifestyle change during the current chaos was never going to be easy.

A recent study at Nottingham University found that smoking relapse rates are close to 90% within the first 3 months – so you’re not alone and certainly not uncommon to experience.

So firstly, we’re all human and make mistakes. Be kind and patient with yourself, just like you would with a young child who’s faltered. You’re smoking again, this does not mean you are a failure, instead learn from what went wrong and prepare for the same problem in the future. Avoid overwhelming yourself by projecting yourself in the past or the future – apply yourself today, here and now.


So the good news is that with some re-examination of your goals and renewed motivation – you can get back on track, with more wisdom and experience under your belt.


You may be at a point where you are rationalising putting off starting the quit attempt – what are the reasons stopping you from going again right away? You may find there are very few, if any, genuine reasons not to try again!


It’s certainly important to re-establish your values and the deeper things that matter to you and why you quit smoking, whether your health, family or finances. If the idea you are feeling deprived of cigarette is felt and allowed to grow – for example, seeing someone smoke and thinking ‘they can enjoy a cig, but I’m not allowed to as I’m trying to quit’ – the stage is set for a lapse. Our perception of the quit journey is important – why are you doing it?

After a few days or weeks into the quit attempt, things can get a little blurry. Perhaps your breathing has improved massively or that chronic cough has cleared up – we may even forget why we wanted to quit in the first place. It’s easy to remember the good times rather than the bad. Whilst the nicotine has left the system, the habitual nature of smoking lasts a lot longer. The mind may suggest that you can smoke again for a bit and then stop again when you want or having just the one won’t hurt. It’s important to pay attention to this smoking thoughts and recognising them as just that, thoughts…which pass as quickly as they come in if we can remain aware of them.


It may feel uncomfortable but reading about the dangers that smoking has on our health and facing them head on can build the resilience needed when triggers arise. Here is an overview from the NHS


Know it’s okay to start again fresh and make a list of reasons for quitting –actually put pen to paper or fingers to keypad and bring them to life. Re-affirm and keep them at the forefront of your mind.

Finally, seek support – although this is a personal endeavour, you don’t need to go it alone. Building a support network can hold you accountable and help when you feel tempted to smoke. This support can also come in the form of trained stop smoking advisors with experience in aiding people on their quit journeys through behaviour change and pharmacotherapy advice.

So if you didn’t get in touch for help with Stoptober, or even if you did, give us a shout and we can go again!