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Are you are a smoker (or someone who vapes)?

I am sure you have wondered if it is really possible to give up the cigarettes for good. It seems to hard and scary to imagine life without cigarettes in it. Most people who attempt to ditch the cigarettes have several attempts before they actually become totally smoke free. Don’t you just envy those who suddenly go ‘Cold Turkey’ and are successful?

Believe it or not, it has less to do with addiction and will power than you might think. And whilst you might yawn and think oh no, not this ‘attitude’ towards it nonsense again, but if you are serious about quitting – read on! You might be surprised.

Reaching for a cigarette in times of stress is not about ‘calming us down’. It actually speeds up the heart rate, constricts blood vessels and all the other things you probably already know about. However, the reward centre in the brain picks up on the satisfaction of the nicotine hit and so for a few moments you feel better.  And one of the worst things is – that you crave the cigarette, know you want to give up, smoke one anyway then feel guilty! It is like a never ending circle – until now!

You don’t need nicotine replacement or hypnotherapy to ditch the cigarettes, although both can help you on your journey. There are also different ways of giving up depending on your individual needs. For example, setting a target for 30 days in the future and stopping completely (with daily hypnosis to help with mind set and preparation) or cutting down with a targeted program of how to do that! Being aware of everything surrounding smoking can actually put you totally off wanting a cigarette too.

Smoking is the one addiction that if you were in a coma would not have an effect on your body – unlike other drugs or alcohol addictions. This tells us that the addiction is NOT physical – so should in theory be easier than dealing with the emotional/mental withdrawal than that combined with the physical. However, with posts saying how nicotine is more addictive than cocaine and that if you took the nicotine out of  one cigarette it is enough to kill you – its no wonder our minds tell us how hard this journey is going to be.

If you are serious about putting down the cigarettes for once and for all, I would suggest that for the next week, every single time you feel the urge for a cigarette, hold on for a second! I want you to feel that craving, notice how it makes you feel. Notice that inner voice saying to you ‘I need a cigarette’. Are you stressed? Are you using it as a reward (finished your report or housework? Taking a coffee break?) or just socialising with the other smokers? Now notice the craving again. Let that craving become stronger –it’s okay,  you can have a cigarette in a few moments!

In those moments where you were craving, it was damn uncomfortable wasn’t it? But you didn’t keel over or start shaking. Also, you made the choice to wait, to feel those emotions and went ahead and had that smoke anyway!

Whilst you continue to smoke, you will continue to have those cravings every day – several times a day for the rest of your life.  Scary thought. What if you have no cigarettes? What if you have run out and that craving becomes unbearable? If you had 2 years left of your life, and smoked ten cigarettes a day – that is approximately 7,300 cravings, and 7,300 cigarettes. If each cigarette cost 10p – well that would buy you something rather nice wouldn’t it?

If you quit cigarettes today, within 2 weeks the cravings would be down to virtually nothing. Two weeks of cravings is approximately 140 moments of craving that lasts no more than 2 minutes at a time. That’s approximately 280 uncomfortable moments compared to 7300! But that’s not all.  Two weeks is enough time for your airways to open up, clear your chest of some of that sticky tar, for the carbon monoxide and other seriously harmful chemicals to leave the body and start healing! For the first two weeks, it is natural to have a fleeting craving when you smell cigarette smoke, it can even seem quite pleasant, but you will change your mind when you sit next to a smoker and realise how much they smell! You really will be thinking ‘oh my! Did I smell like that?’  Suddenly understanding how sucking on a mint before an important meeting does nothing to stop you smelling like a ashtray and neither does a quick spray of perfume, you start to find you are really put off by the smell of cigarettes.

Mindset and attitude are the most important things. Preparing yourself and setting a date can be really helpful. Being mindful of every cigarette, looking at it, smelling it, feeling the tar in your lungs, tasting it. As you inhale, think about the damage it causes, the cost, how this white burning stick has a hold over your life. Then look at it again. YOU made the choice to smoke it. It is a choice, you made the choice. You could have said no. When ever you pick up a cigarette, remind yourself, you have a choice. You are not giving something up, you are making a choice to not smoke anymore. Break that chain of dependency with just that simple thought. It is a choice. You are choosing to break this habit.  When you use this plan to not smoke, you will likely find that through the 30 days before you quit, there are times where you decide not to have that usual cigarette. You naturally cut down before the date you have chosen to become smoke free.

Another way of quitting is to monitor what you smoke for a week. If you smoke 10 cigarettes a day, and take 10 puffs of each, you can cut down one puff on each cigarette by being mindful. After four or five days, you can cut down one more puff, and then one more puff. It gets to the point where it is hardly worth lighting a cigarette for a smoke. Or you could cut down by one cigarette every day.

In regards to additional support, nicotine gum and patches work well for some people. However, the gum tastes pretty rank and the patches can cause quite severe itching. The question you need to ask is – ‘Who is in control here, you or the nicotine?’ All you are doing is breaking the habit but you are not addressing the craving. Whilst nicotine is in your system, you will continue to crave it. Once the nicotine leaves your body the cravings diminish quite significantly.

During those moments of cravings, you can either work on some breathing exercises and relaxation, or have a glass of water. It really does help! Or you can distract yourself by doing something to occupy your mind. The craving won’t last long.

In regards to cravings, you can count them. As you experience the craving, stop and feel it. Tell yourself: “This is one less craving I have to face, just a few more days and I will never feel this craving again. I am in control. This craving will pass because I choose not to give in to it.” It really does work!

In regards to hypnotherapy, habit reversal can really help. Helping you make changes to your usual smoking habits and feel more comfortable about them. It can also help you picture the new smoke free you with positivity. It can help you to relax and control cravings, and help with irritability. For some, hypnotherapy can help the smoker stop overnight. The truth is though, that this not as common as you are led to believe.  

So what happens once you have ditched the cigarettes but have started smoking again? Does it mean these methods have failed?  The simple answer is NO. What it means is, that after all that hard work, YOU chose to pick up and smoke a cigarette. It is your responsibility. Of course, you can stop again, you have shown yourself you can do it. A slip up does not have to mean you go back to 20 a day. It means you need to be much clearer and firmer with yourself because now you have put nicotine into your body, you will notice how much stronger those cravings were than they were before!

The other myth about ditching the cigarettes, is that you will put on weight. It is normal to want to fill that gap in the early days, but the majority of people do not put on weight. Those that do, most of them only put on a couple of pounds and lose it very soon afterwards. Those who over eat are replacing one habit with another – like a comfort blanket. Hypnotherapy can help with those feelings of needing to self-soothe. It is a result of your mind telling you that you are depriving yourself of something and that gap needs to be filled. Self-care techniques can be incredibly helpful in doing just that.

Feelings of missing out on the social side of smoking, or concerns over other peoples reactions to you quitting can also play a huge part.

Whether you decide to tell people you have stopped, or whether you just tell them ‘I’ve not long had one thanks’ or ‘do you know what, I really don’t fancy one right now’, depends on so many factors. Whether you avoid areas where people smoke also depends on many factors. For some, standing with smokers knowing they have that choice means they really are not bothered, and can enjoy the smell (in the early few days) knowing they will soon never crave a cigarette again. For others, avoiding smokers is how they cope with the reminder of the habits they used to have, until they really have turned that corner where smoking seems repulsive to them now. Which ever you choose for you, remember, some non-smokers will not be bothered by others around them smoking, others will find it quite uncomfortable.  You will notice how those who are still smoking are so caught up in smoking, that they really don’t care how they smell to others. You can congratulate yourself of being free!

If you would like support in giving up cigarettes, hit the contact me button on my home page and start your smoke free journey today!


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