Resilience is a skill everyone has within them. Think of resilience like a muscle. We build muscle with exercise and quality food. We can flex our resilience muscles by managing how we think and behave in times of stress. Our muscles strengthen as we cultivate social connections and develop more self awareness and self care strategies.
During times of stress, it’s common to use tobacco as a stress reliever. However, tobacco doesn’t solve the problem that’s causing the stress. After using tobacco, the stress will likely return. Being resilient in times of stress is an important skill in the process of tobacco cessation.
At Pivot, we understand quitting nicotine is hard and can be a source of additional stress. Developing strong resilience tools can help you move through the process with greater ease.
Here are three areas to start building your resilience muscles to quit tobacco!
Finding healthy coping strategies is a key part of successfully navigating life's regular stressors.
Self care practices refer to behaviors that support your well-being. Developing coping skills takes practice, and it’s helpful to experiment with a few strategies to see what works best for you. Don’t get discouraged if some strategies don’t work every time–try focusing instead on your successes and strengths. Building a range of healthy coping strategies is like building a muscle–it will get stronger the more you use it.
Tips to Try:
- Find some movement you enjoy and do it regularly.
- Try a few minutes of focused breathing.
- Incorporate play, lightness, humor, and art (like music!) into your day.
- Prioritize sleep by making small changes to your nighttime routine.
- Use the breath sensor, chew on a plastic straw, or use a piece of nicotine gum.
Self awareness involves understanding our strengths, emotions, values, and motivations.
Building a strong sense of self awareness leads to greater resilience. It also helps us understand what is in our control to change and what is not. We can’t control everything in our lives, so it makes sense to identify and focus our energy on the things we can control. Finding and creating opportunities to feel capable, competent, and confident will help us navigate challenges and crises when they happen.
Tips to Try:
- Journal some of your strengths and values or take a strengths assessment.
- Think of a stressful situation. Write down what you can and cannot control about it.
- Practice mentally (or literally!) letting go of the things you can’t control.
- Try a quick mindfulness meditation. Notice your mood and emotions without judgment and without trying to change them.
- Make a plan to take one small action on something within your control. Tell a friend.
One of the best ways to build resilience is to cultivate social connections. “Leaning in” to your relationships with supportive people redirects your focus from tobacco (or quitting tobacco) to the people in your life. This provides a sense of security and can cultivate independence and creative problem solving. Actions like the ones below can help shift your focus away from cravings and toward connection.
Tips to Try:
- Reach out to a friend for a walk, coffee, or a chat.
- Find a cause you feel passionate about and get involved.
- Ask for helpful tips from people who have already quit or reduced.
- Connect with other Pivoters in the app by visiting Community.
- Create and implement healthy boundaries to protect your time and values.
Building resilience will improve your ability to respond to life’s challenges, big or small. Practice building resilience takes time. Remember to be kind to yourself as you navigate these changes.
With steadily growing skills in resilience, you’ll find that you can do much more than handle stress in the moment. You will be developing skills that can be used in many different situations beyond quitting or reducing tobacco.
Linda Bundick, MS, CHES, CHWC, NCTTP