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How to Have a Happy Holiday Without Stress or Smoke

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Holidays are supposed to be an enjoyable time when family and friends gather together with food and drinks, but it can also be stressful as people rush from place to place. A cigarette can sound like the perfect way to de-stress, especially during a busy holiday season, but cessation coaches at the Asian Smokers’ Quitline have tips and encouragement for people attempting to quit, or want to stay quit through the season.

“Holidays are fun but they can also be stressful, so it’s important to be aware of triggers and to get extra support,” said Dr. Caroline Chen, project manager of the Asian Smokers’ Quitline. “Let family and friends know that you’re trying to quit, and ask for their support in helping you lead a healthier life.”

Here are some other general tips from cessation coaches on ways to avoid triggers and stay quit during the holidays:

  1. In the midst of holiday busyness, get adequate rest.
  2. Avoid spicy and sugary foods, and alcohol. Holidays are often all about the eating and feasting, but avoid foods that will make you crave cigarettes even more. Eat fruit or less sugary dessert on the menu. As for alcohol, put it away, and instead, reach for a sugar-free seltzer, club soda, or apple cider.
  3. If weather allows, go for a walk. To prevent taking up a new bad habit such as eating whatever you can find to avoid having a cigarette, stay active and exercise.
  4. Spend time with non-smokers. If all your friends are smokers, it may be time to make some new friends. Keep some distance from smokers, and create a community of people who are ex-smokers or non-smokers to help you keep busy and away from smoking.
  5. Having a supportive community is important on this journey. Call the Quitline! Call the Asian Smokers’ Quitline, a free nationwide telephone program for Chinese-, Korean-, and Vietnamese-speakers who want to quit. When you call, a friendly staff person will offer various services: self-help materials, a referral list of other programs, one-on-one counseling over the phone, and a free two-week starter kit of nicotine patches.
  6. Lastly, don’t give up on quitting. You can do it!

About the Asian Smokers’ Quitline:

The Asia Smokers’ Quitline (ASQ) provides FREE, accessible, evidence-based smoking cessation services in Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese to Asian communities in the U.S. ASQ has been shown to double their chances of quitting successfully. Services are provided by native speakers trained in smoking cessation. Eligible callers receive a free two-week starter kit of nicotine patches.

Health care providers and others in the community are encouraged to refer Asian language speaking smokers to ASQ. To learn more about referring, email asq@ucsd.edu or see the web referral link at www.asiansmokersquitline.org. Smokers can also call ASQ directly or enroll themselves online at www.asq-chinese.org, www.asq-korean.org, or www.asq-viet.org.

ASQ is funded by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and has served over 8,000 callers since it was established in 2012.

ASQ is open Monday through Friday, 7am to 9pm Pacific Time

Asian Smokers’ Quitline
1-800-838-8917 (Chinese)
1-800-556-5564 (Korean)
1-800-778-8440 (Vietnamese)

To learn more about ASQ (in English), visit: www.asiansmokersquitline.org.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking.

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center
(212) 966-0461

This post was created by the Asian Smokers’ Quitline (ASQ) of University of California, San Diego


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Managing Holiday Stress

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It is the most wonderful time of the year! And sometimes, it is also the most stressful. Make the most of this special season, and try our tips to manage the stress that often comes with the holiday.

Gift giving

  • Create a budget and stick to it! Be creative, and consider making homemade gifts.
  • If you have too many people on your list, start a family or friend gift exchange. Here is a great site on how to organize a gift exchange.
  • Ask people what they want instead of spending too much time looking for the perfect gifts. Ask your family and friends to create a wish list on Amazon this year. (If you shop through Amazon Smile, you can support the Health Center with every purchase you make. Learn more here.)

Getting together with family and friends

  • Being a host can be incredibly stressful and costly. To lighten the load, ask your family and friends to bring their favorite dishes. Accept when your guests offer to help you clean up.
  • Manage your time and expectations. It is okay if you cannot do all that is on your list, or visit all the people you hope to see during the holiday season. If you feel that you will not be able to visit all the people that you love, you can tell them that you will visit them after the holidays.
  • Remember to enjoy yourself! Sometimes there are so many places to go and people to see that we forget to enjoy time with our loved ones. When the holiday tension sets in, be intentional about doing something light. Take time to play games, make a craft or cook a meal together.
  • Take a break. Step away and take a walk when you are feeling overwhelmed. If you are visiting several places during the holidays, make sure to allow time to relax between visits.

Beat the holiday blues

  • Volunteering can be incredibly rewarding. It will remind you of the spirit of the holidays.
  • Be active to help with your mood. Take a walk, dance, or check out activities at your local community center.
  • Celebrate, even if you are alone. Do something that you love to do or eat foods you most enjoy. Do something a little bit out of the ordinary and special during this season, just for you.

Whatever you are celebrating, we wish you a wonderful and healthy holiday!


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The Holidays are Here! Talk to Your Family About Health

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Written by Bonnie Tse and Dr. Ady Oster

Family gatherings during the holidays are often spent eating or cooking together, exchanging stories and having a good time being together. When families live far apart from each other, the holidays can be a special time to reunite. With everyone gathered around, this can also be a good time to talk about health and family history. Talking about health with your family will help you to know and prepare for conditions that you may be at risk for, or open the door for support if you currently have a health condition.

For many, health is a delicate subject to talk about—especially with family. We decide not to talk about our health for fear of what others may think or because we rather not make our family worry. While it is uncomfortable to talk to your family about your health, informing your family can be the first step towards disease prevention and management. Diabetes, for example, is one of those health conditions that may run in the family. What you eat and how active you are can influence whether you develop diabetes. If someone in your family has diabetes, you may also have a higher risk of getting diabetes.

While you may not be able to change your family’s health history, you can start talking to your family about healthy changes you can make to delay or control diseases like diabetes. Here are a few ideas:

  • Plan physical activities together. As a family you can play a sport, take an afternoon walk (post meal walks are great!) or go on an adventure. Being active as a family is a fun way to increase physical activity and to stay motivated to exercise regularly.
  • Gain support to minimize stress and anxiety. Managing one’s condition often requires a lot of effort and can be overwhelming. Setting small goals and making changes as family provides encouragement and the strength to overcome the challenges of having a chronic disease.

So for the upcoming Thanksgiving celebration, or even at your next family meal, initiate a conversation about health. When talking to your children, you can use this chart provided by the American Heart Association to discuss and map out your family history.

The more you know about your family’s health, the better prepared you can be to create a healthy future.

Written by Bonnie Tse, with contributions from Dr. Ady Oster. Bonnie Tse is part of the Health Education Department at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Hunter College. Dr. Oster is the section chief of internal medicine at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and completed his residency training at Yale-New Haven Hospital and University of California at San Francisco. Dr. Oster is board-certified in internal medicine.