Staying smoke-free is more than just giving up cigarettes; it is a complete lifestyle change. Here are some suggestions for making your new life smoke-free, as well as strategies to get back on the wagon if you fall off.

Identify Your Triggers

People relish time spent with their friends watching a game at the sports bar or relaxing by the lake. But if that time means being around friends who smoke, you may be encouraged to let your guard down and light up. Working with an accountability partner or quit-smoking coach, identify situations where you may feel inclined to smoke. Then lay out a plan to deal with these situations—whether it is stepping away for a minute, going over a rehearsed pep talk in your mind, or texting a friend as a distraction. It might take some time to identify the triggers and form a strategy. In the meantime, you might slip up and relapse. If you do, learn from your misstep and come up with a plan to avoid similar situations in the future.

Forgive Yourself

Relapse is common. That may not be the news you want to hear when you are determined to quit and stay quit, but it is true. Many smokers relapse, and many people try more than one time to stay quit. But here is the good news: you can learn from past quitting experiences. And because you know what it is like to be on the other side already, you are better prepared to tackle the ups and downs of quitting again.

Think of All the Benefits

Short-term benefits include having whiter teeth and better breath, saving money, and not having to sit in the smoking section at every restaurant. Long-term benefits include increased life expectancy, reduced risk of disease and cancer, and better health for your friends and family members. Make a mental list of these—or jot them down on a piece of paper—to remind you why quitting is so important. If you slip up and start smoking again, let this list serve as a reminder of why you made the decision to quit in the first place.

Start Over

You slipped up, and you’re smoking several times a day again. Quit again—and now. Don’t wait for tomorrow or for the start of a new week. If you wait, you’re letting your body build up its addiction to nicotine again. Stopping now gets you started and working through the process again. The sooner you start, the sooner you are a former smoker once again.