TOP TIPS TO STOP SMOKING
1. Why Change?
Know your reasons for wanting to be a non smoker. All smokers know that smoking can kill, if it was as simple as knowing that, I don’t suppose anyone would smoke. Understand the impact and consequences on your life and that of those you love, of being a smoker. What will be the impact on your children or grandchildren, if you die prematurely of a smoking related disease? How do you feel about your children and/or partner living through terminal illness with you? As a parental role model, what will the long term impact be on your children as they observe you smoke? What are the medium to long term financial implications of continuing to smoke? How has smoking affected your skin, your teeth, your breath and what will be the impact in another 10 years? Everyone needs a motivator to change their behaviour, know yours and use it to give you leverage to take action.
2. Benefits of being a Non Smoker
Now you are more aware of the consequences of smoking, focus your mind on the benefits you will enjoy as a non smoker. A 20 a day smoker will spend just under £2000 per year on smoking. What else could you spend that money on? How proud will your family be of you achieving such a positive change? How influential will your changed behaviour be on your children? How much fresher will your clothes, hair and breath smell. How much easier will travelling and socialising be? How will your health improve – improved breathing, energy, taste and smell.
3. Dealing with the cravings
Nicotine causes the cravings. The nicotine is however out of your bloodstream within 48 hours, so it doesn’t take long for your body to begin to get things back to its natural balance. If you need to give it a little extra help, take several deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. This increases the oxygen entering your blood stream and encourages your body to release its own natural ‘happy’ chemicals, thereby helping you eliminate those old cravings and making it easier for you to be a non smoker.
4. It's horrible - so why do I do it?
I guess this is the million dollar question! Over the years, you have programmed your mind to associate particular ‘gains’ to smoking. These gains might be; the opportunity to take breaks from work throughout the day, a ‘reward’ after completing a task, a quick ‘get-away’ from the children, to replace hunger pangs, to give you something to do when you are bored etc etc etc. There are many different associations that people have. The reality of the situation though, is that these are just ‘perceived’ benefits. They are reasons or excuses to remain a smoker. You don’t need a cigarette to take a break. Take a brief walk, get a drink of water, take the opportunity to find a quiet spot and take a few deep breaths. Really think about your associations and how you can do something (positively) different instead.
5. Make it easy for yourself
You wouldn’t leave chocolate bars lying around at home or at work if you wanted to stop eating chocolate, so why keep hold of cigarettes/tobacco/cigars, ashtrays when you’ve decided to become a non smoker? Follow through with your convictions by demonstrating to yourself and those around you that you mean business! This is not just a half hearted attempt, you’ve made your decision and now you are going to make it as easy as possible for yourself to be a non smoker. Give your car a valet and/or do a spring clean at home. Alter your routines slightly, if in the morning you used to get up, put the kettle on and have a cigarette, now instead, get up and have a shower first. Make your home and car a non smoking environment; ask others to support your decision to become a non smoker by respecting your clean space.
6. A new chapter!
Recognise that you are moving into a new chapter of your life. Smoking is a habit that was once a part of your life, but it does not now reflect who you really are. We all leave behind things as we move through our lives. We leave homes, towns, friends, work colleagues, jobs and many other things. As we move forward, we constantly make decisions based upon where we’ve come from and the experiences we’ve had and where we want to go to. Once we’ve taken action on a life change, that we’ve considered and chosen, our focus should be on harnessing our energies, drive and motivation to get where we want to be. This is your new chapter. The title and words are not yet unwritten – choose what you want them to be and go for it!
7. Sound, Camera, Action!!
You will have memories in your mind of when you had wished you were a non smoker. Perhaps that time when you had to ‘sneak’ out during your child’s show for a quick ciggie, or maybe that time when you were the only smoker and had to find an excuse to nip to the loo for a quick fag. Could it have been when your eyes met those of another across the room and then you saw the look on their face when they saw you light up. Or perhaps it was when your partner refused a kiss because your breath was so bad. I’m sure you can think of something. Gather those memories together and imagine they were back to back on a recording that you were watching. One after the other they were repeating and playing again and again. Try turning up the volume, the sound and the brightness. Replay it again and again and see how that really emphasises the negativity you feel and how it strengthens your resolve to be a non smoker.
8. My hand feels empty -what do I do?
Take the hand that you used to hold your cigarette with and press the finger nail of your middle finger into the fleshy part of your thumb. As you do this, breathe deeply in the way that I described earlier (in through the nose, exhaling slowly out through the mouth) and at the same time repeat to yourself inside your head (out loud if you are able to) “I am a happy, healthy non smoker”. This ‘trigger’ is a way of enabling you to combine the release of your own ‘happy’ chemicals with positively programming your mind to feel good about being a non smoker. You can practice this often, in fact the more you practice using this trigger, the more effective it becomes and the more quickly you begin to feel the positive benefits, without your previous need for a cigarette.
9. Shout about it!
Make sure everyone knows what you are doing! Keeping it to yourself makes it easy to ‘give in’ and the only person you let down is yourself. The more people you tell, the more support and encouragement you will receive. People often say that it’s important to do it for yourself and no-one else. This is of course true, however in life, we will often be far more committed and motivated to achieve changes, if we have involved others and they become a part of the change process. Most people find it much harder to let someone else down than they do to let themselves down.
10. Go on, treat yourself!
If you passed an exam, got promotion, got a new job or excelled in some other way, the chances are, you would celebrate your success in some way. Becoming a non smoker is a major achievement and should be celebrated too! Don’t let the moment pass by without acknowledging it in some way. Recognise the positive change you have made, celebrate and mark the day. Then continue to recognise the significant achievement by rewarding yourself in some way – maybe a night out with family or friends, maybe a trip to the cinema, perhaps some new clothes or maybe something you had planned to buy for your home. Make sure you pat yourself on the back and say “well done”.
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