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Quit smoking: How to stay motivated during your quit journey

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COVID-19 has changed our day to day lives. Lots of us are worried about our health and that of our loved ones.

Quitting smoking has never been more important but you may find your resolve wavering as you cope with the stress and upheaval of the pandemic.

It’s at these times that you need to remind yourself why you’re doing it and focus on your original reasons for kicking the habit.

If you manage to stay off cigarettes for 28 days you’re five times more likely to stay off them for good, which is why it is important to stay strong – particularly through the early stages of quitting.

The HSE Quit service offers support whatever stage you’re at, while the Quit Stop Smoking Advisors are on hand to help you through even the most difficult times.

Remember: You don’t need to let a slip up turn into a full return to smoking.

If you do have a cigarette there are things you can do to stop a small setback from turning into a full relapse:

Don’t give up – A slip up doesn’t mean you have to take up smoking again

Get help – HSE Quit offers lots of practical help to get back on track with no judgement

Learn from it – Think about what caused you to have a cigarette. How can you improve your coping skills?

Stay positive – You’re making the biggest possible positive change to your health. A slip up isn’t the end of the world and you’ll know what to watch out for in the future

Commit to the ‘not a puff’ rule – Even one puff or cigarette stimulates the nicotine receptors in your brain and releases endorphins. Once you’re back on track, avoid even a puff of a cigarette to give yourself the best possible chance of staying off them for good

It’s worth reminding yourself of the upsides to quitting whenever you feel temptation, and don’t forget that cravings only last 3 to 5 minutes.

They can be overcome by use of the 4 Ds (Delay a few minutes; Distract yourself; Drink a glass of water; Deep breathing).

We caught up with our Quit Leaders to see how they’ve been staying motivated while dealing with the stress of the pandemic and this is what they said:

James Donegan, 40, Wexford

“My three kids are my main motivation. I have to be there for them like they’ve been there for me.”

John Kierans, Irish Mirror Editor, 57, Louth

“I just want to be off them so that when I’m walking I’m not gasping for air. Since I stopped, I’ve been taking long walks every day and it’s been so much easier. I just kept reminding myself that my blood pressure is down, and that’s really positive for me.”

Claudine Woods, 49, Dublin

“My two kids keep me motivated – they’re my whole life. I want to show them that addiction can be overcome.”

You can start your own 28 day no smoking challenge and Quit journey by signing up at, calling freephone 1800 201 203 or freetext QUIT to 50100.

page last reviewed: 05/03/2020
next review due: 05/03/2023

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