A Little Change Will Do You Good

As you get into the hard work of quitting smoking, it can be a challenging time. Session 3 is all about teaching you some changes you can make in your life now that will help you move forward in a more calm, empowered way.

Getting a Handle on Stress

Many people smoke as a direct reaction to stress. Even if that’s not one of your triggers now, the act of quitting smoking can create new stress that tempts you to smoke just to get relief. Addressing stress early in the process can help you quit by keeping this trigger in check.

Stress: A negative emotion felt in response to a situation, which in turn creates a physical response. This may include sweaty palms, tight muscles, upset stomach, shakiness and shortness of breath.

Smoking for Stress Relief Versus True Stress Relief

Although smoking can seem like a stress reliever in the moment, smoking doesn’t actually stop stress or help resolve stressful situations. Select each box to compare your options.

Smoking for Stress Relief
This is really part of an endless cycle:
  • Nicotine triggers the pleasure center in your brain, so you feel better...
  • Until the nicotine in your system gets low again...
  • And you have more tension and stress...
  • So you crave another cigarette.
Getting True Stress Relief
When you use stress relievers such as relaxation exercises, your body actually relaxes, which helps you think more clearly about the thing that is making you feel stress in the first place. Plus relaxation exercises can be used anytime, anywhere. You can’t say that about smoking.

Try a Relaxation Exercise Now

Deep breathing is a technique that helps calm the physical responses to stress. You’ll learn to breathe in a way that slows down the pace of your body and promotes general relaxation. Listen to the Deep Breathing exercise now, then visit the Resources section to download the MP3 file for use anytime. You will also find other helpful relaxation exercises that don’t require a media player.

Ready to practice relaxing?


Given the connection between smoking and stress, it’s no surprise that people in especially stressful life situations smoke at rates higher than the general population. If you fall into one of these groups, we encourage you to call the Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) and explore additional information in the Resources section.

  • Adults with depression and other mental health conditions
  • People with physical and mental disabilities
  • Active duty military personnel and veterans
  • People in lower income categories

Tackling Weight Gain Concerns

As you learned in Session 1, weight gain is one of the most common roadblocks to quitting. If it’s one of your worries, now is the right time to think about this roadblock before Quit Day. But first, here are the real facts about quitting smoking and weight gain:

Some people do gain weight after quitting, but not everyone does.

For those who do gain weight, the average is about 8 to 10 pounds.

A few extra pounds are not nearly as bad for you as smoking.

“But hey, I really don’t want to gain any weight!”

We get it. No one wants to gain extra weight. So here’s our take on the subject. First, quitting smoking should be your number one priority right now. There are choices you can make that will help you avoid weight gain but try to accept that you may gain a few pounds as your metabolism slows and your appetite improves. If so, you can take the pounds off after you quit.

To limit or avoid weight gain while quitting:

  • Exercise.
  • When you eat, eat slowly.
  • Don’t eat on the run or in front of the TV. You may end up eating more this way.
  • When you feel hungry between meals, drink a large glass of water or a low-calorie beverage instead of snacking.
  • If you do snack, snack smarter (more on this in Session 4).

Like smoking, the urge to snack may disappear if you do something else instead. Brush your teeth. Call a friend. Just occupy your thoughts for a few minutes and you may find you’re not so hungry after all.

Increasing Your Activity

You learned about stress relief and how to fight weight gain when you quit. Getting more active—physically and otherwise—not only helps even more with both of those things but it also helps many people quit by providing a healthy distraction.

Being More Active Doesn’t Have to Be Exhausting

The point of being more active is to just get moving. You don’t have to train for a marathon or hit the gym every day. Find something you enjoy that you can stick to. Select each box for some ideas.

To exercise your body*...
  • Walk or jog
  • Bike
  • Go out dancing
  • Swim
  • Try yoga
  • Garden
To exercise your brain...
  • Join a book club
  • Volunteer
  • Sign up for a class
To spend time in nonsmoking pursuits...
  • Go to the library
  • Hang out at a nonsmoking friend’s house
  • See more movies
  • Go to restaurants (but not if they allow smoking!)

*People with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease or diabetes should talk to their doctor before beginning an exercise program.

There is no time like now to add more activity into your day. Start slow but think about how you might take advantage of the new energy—and better breathing ability—you’ll have after Quit Day.

Asking for Support From Others

In addition to trying to incorporate a few basic lifestyle changes to help you in your quit attempt, it’s also important to seek support from people you know. Those who have strong support are typically better able to stay quit when the urge to smoke is great.

To learn four things that make a good support person, select each item.

A good support person is:

Someone you can talk to when you feel an urge to smoke.

A good support person is:

Someone to help make suggestions for getting past an urge.

A good support person is:

Someone you can ask to call you and check in.

A good support person is:

Someone who can help you get through difficult social situations.

Ever had an experience where someone who offered to support you ended up being more of a nag than a help? It’s up to you to tell the people who want to help you what kind of support you really want.

  • Ask someone to be available if you call, especially during the first few weeks after your Quit Day.
  • Ask friends who still smoke to not smoke around you and to understand if you stay away from certain activities for a while.
  • Use “I” statements to tell someone how you feel. For example, “When you offer me a cigarette, I feel tempted to smoke. In the future, I’d appreciate if you didn’t do that anymore.”

Email a Friend Now to Ask for Support

Not sure what to say? Don’t worry, we wrote something to get you started. Send it as is or add your own message.


We're Ready to Support You, Too

Whether you need advice or someone to talk you through a tough time, the quit-smoking specialists at the American Lung Association's Lung HelpLine are here to help.

Just call 1-800-LUNGUSA, email or instant chat.

Lung HelpLine

Silencing Your Inner Critic

There is one more key element to preparing to quit smoking. It’s building confidence in yourself and practicing positive thinking. Positive thinking can be used to monitor your inner voice. The one that says, “Who are you trying to kid with this quit attempt?” Whenever you hear that in your head, counter it with a positive statement.

Tell yourself “I can do it—I can quit smoking,” until you believe it! As for the times you tried to quit before, consider those practice quits. It’s more likely you’ll quit for good this time, as long as you learn from your experience.

Don’t get down on yourself about your ability to quit or about having started smoking in the first place. Many people started smoking because tobacco companies have a long history of using deceptive marketing tactics. They sponsor events, use targeted imagery and product names and advertise with great frequency, especially to these groups:

  • Youth
  • Women
  • African American, American Indian and Alaska Natives and Hispanic people
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
  • Those who live in rural communities

Making Lifestyle Changes

There are lots of ways to start using the strategies you learned in this session and change your lifestyle to help you quit smoking.

For each question in this activity, try to select at least one idea you are willing to try.

What will you do to manage stress?

Use the relaxation exercises in this course. Learn to enjoy silence. Use the Serenity Prayer. Increase physical activity. Make time for fun. Tell myself, "This too shall pass." Meditate.

What will you do to manage weight gain?

Make smarter food choices. Choose fewer sugary drinks. Exercise more. Make quitting smoking my top priority.

What will you do to be more active?

Start with a 10-minute walk. Grow a garden. Ride a bike. Sign up for a class at the gym or community center. Walk the stairs at work. Go dancing.

What will you do to get support?

Call a friend. Post my news on social media. Ask someone to quit with me. Visit the Freedom From Smoking Community Join a team sport or group activity. Join a quit-smoking support group. Call the Lung HelpLine.
What will you do to build confidence in yourself? Keep saying, "I can quit smoking!" Picture myself not smoking. Picture myself as a positive role model. Edit activity

Tweet it. Post it. Announce it at the dinner table! Tell everyone you know you are quitting smoking! You’ll gather supporters. Plus the more people you tell, the more committed you’ll feel to doing it.

Bringing it All Together

Quitting smoking isn’t just about the act of not smoking. It’s about changing your life by embracing new, healthier habits that will keep you inspired and moving in the right direction. The small changes you learned in Session 3 are a great start.

Keep using the Deep Breathing relaxation exercise you learned to combat stress.

Find time in your schedule to try a new activity this week and get moving.

Start eating better to feel better—and avoid weight gain.

Keep your motivation high by looking at your Reasons for Quitting. Add to the list if you think of more reasons.

Keep using Pack Tracks if you haven’t used them for three days already.

Keep saying these words out loud: “I can quit smoking.”

Why are relaxation exercises a better choice to help you relieve stress than smoking? They help calm the actual physical responses to stress. They can be used anytime, anywhere. Both answers are correct. Relaxation exercises help your physical reactions to stress slow down so you can relax, while smoking provides a sense of relief that only lasts while the nicotine is in your system. Plus relaxation exercises can be used anytime, anywhere—which can’t be said of smoking. True or False? For increased activity to be effective in helping you quit smoking, you need to break a sweat. True False This is false. Being more active doesn’t have to mean exercising every day or using a lot of energy. It’s means doing something you enjoy that gets you moving and out of situations where you might otherwise smoke. The best support person should: Be an ex-smoker. They know what it’s like to quit. Be a nag! You’ll need someone to constantly be on you about not smoking. Be a good listener and let you set the tone for the kind of support you want. Having support is an important part of quitting for good, but only if it’s the kind of support you really want. That’s why having a person who is a good listener is best—whether he or she has been through a similar experience or not. But it’s up to you to tell the person what kind of support you need and when.

Before returning to the Dashboard, it might be valuable to go back and review this session to make sure you understand the key points.

You have reached the end of Session 3. In the next session, you’ll finish making your plan for Quit Day and learn a few more tools that will help you in the days and weeks to come. Don’t forget to finish using Pack Tracks first though!

Before returning to the Dashboard, it might be valuable to go back and review this session to make sure you understand the key points.

You have reached the end of Session 3. In the next session, you’ll finish making your plan for Quit Day and learn a few more tools that will help you in the days and weeks to come. Don’t forget to finish using Pack Tracks first though!

Great Job! You have reached the end of Session 3. In the next session, you’ll finish making your plan for Quit Day and learn a few more tools that will help you in the days and weeks to come. Don’t forget to finish using Pack Tracks first though!

Great Job! You have reached the end of Session 3. In the next session, you’ll finish making your plan for Quit Day and learn a few more tools that will help you in the days and weeks to come. Don’t forget to finish using Pack Tracks first though!

Review quiz

Return to the Dashboard