“I can’t do it, I have tried everything from the a–z of the quit smoking world and I can’t give up cigarettes”. How many of you have heard this sentence, or at least one very similar. See the thing is most people are looking for that easy fix, the one where they wear a patch for a few months and hey presto they are magically cured. If only it was that simple….
NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) is promoted by many clinics and it can certainly work with some people. Yet, if you look into the statistics regarding smoking cessation with NRT you will see the success rate is very low, very low indeed. In order to really tackle smoking or more importantly the addiction to nicotine we must first have an understanding of our cognitive behaviours. Why do we smoke? What causes us to pick up a cigarette? And what stops us from wanting to quit?
Before you decide to quit it is important that you have realistic expectations. Sure everyone wants to quit on their first attempt but in all honesty this will be very hard and may not happen. However it is wrong to look at a relapse and see it as a failure a priory. Read on these useful techniques that will help you quit smoking once and for all.
This is all about learning to behave differently when you are placed in an environment or situation which usually involves you smoking i.e. on a lunch break. There are certain techniques (incl. mindful meditation) that can be used to distract your mind from smoking related thoughts.
Altering Your Thinking Patterns
When your body is deprived of nicotine you can go through a series of mood changes. By learning how to change the way you think in certain situations you can help to make the withdrawal a lot less difficult. For example one of the most common reasons people light up a cigarette is due to stress. Instead of thinking “I really need a cigarette”, you can change your thought process to “I need to go for a walk and get some fresh air” or “I need to count to 10 and focus on my breathing”.
Improve Your Understanding
I am sure you have heard the saying “knowledge is power”. The more that you know and understand about your smoking addiction, how to tackle it and what to expect during this process the better place you will be in to combat your addiction.
Understanding Social and Environmental Triggers
If you know and understand what situations make you crave nicotine most you can then work out a way to avoid these. For example a lot of people who smoke find that when they drink alcohol they also feel the need to have a cigarette. The obvious solution for this is to instead of having that beer or glass of wine, have an orange juice instead.
Know Your Motivational Cues
If there are certain things that make you more motivated to quit then you should surround yourself with these. When you find these places, people or actions that motivate you it’s a good idea to write a diary or list to help yourself remember. Positive psychology teaches us that having a set of motivational triggers really helps and essential in altering your way of thinking and acquiring positive outlook in life.
Know Your Negative Triggers
This again involves making a list of all the negative things that you associate with smoking. By putting this list in a spot that you will see few times a day it will help to change the way you think and feel about cigarettes. Generally speaking, knowing your negative triggers is essential for overcoming addiction, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many other mental health condition. Many psychotherapy techniques including CBT, hypnosis, psychoanalysis, etc. aim at discovering these triggers as they are often hidden in your unconscious.
Do you hang around with a lot of smokers? Surrounding yourself with people who are smoking can negatively affect your chances of quitting. It’s understandable that these people will most likely be your friends and family so you will not wish to avoid them, however by asking them to not smoke in front of you will make a massive difference.
For some people the fear of weight gain is what keeps them on the cigarettes. Before you decide to take your first step in giving up join a gym or make an exercise plan which will help you to lose weight or maintain your current weight when you quit smoking.
What you have to remember is that although you may not be successful on your first attempt this is 100% normal. Some can quit first time around while others find it harder to break the addiction. If you are someone that has a relapse make sure to remember what worked for you the previous time around and try to include these more in your daily life.
Image Credit: Mark Sebastian – http://www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/2752162749