Many people don’t attempt to stop smoking because they think it’s too hard, while others have made attempts and failed. Some people have managed to stop only to start smoking again two, three or six months later.

It’s true that for many people quitting smoking isn’t easy. After all, the nicotine in cigarettes is an addictive drug. But don’t be discouraged; millions of people have permanently quit smoking and with the correct approach have overcome the cravings that lead to a happy smoke free life…

I have been helping people to successfully stop smoking for over 28 years.What follows are some of the tools and technique’s that have helped many of my clients to kick the habit

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Preparing to Stop Smoking…

Deciding that you want to stop smoking may seem an obvious starting point. However many people will attempt to stop smoking because others have persistently told them that they must. While stoping smoking for the sake of family and friends is a good thing its often not enough and can lead to feelings of deprivation and resentment.

Developing strong personal reasons to stop smoking in addition to your obligations to others are far stronger motivating factors in helping you to quit the habit.

Your personal reasons could fall under the categories of Health, perhaps you want to stop as part of an overall healthy lifestyle change. Maybe you wish to get fit. Then again you may be thinking about the cost of smoking and wish to save money. Write down a list of the positive reasons for quitting and keep it with you at all times.Keep that list where you can see it and read on a regular basis especially at times you may feel tempted to smoke.

Decide on the Date your going to stop smoking and stick with it

Mark the date in your calendar and tell those family and friends that know your intentions that you’ll stop smoking on that day. Think of the day as a dividing line between the old smoking you and the new nonsmoker you have decided to become.

Visualize yourself free from smoking

Knowing what steps you are going to take in the process of reaching your goal is important for lasting change. Taking the time to picture it in your mind’s eye will give you the opportunity to see how you will accomplish each step along the way. A creative and effective variation on this technique is to picture your goal as already having been achieved; and then you look backwards at the steps you took to achieve it.

This is how it’s done:

1. Close your eyes and imagine that you have already become a non smoker. You feel a healthier person with more energy.Your breathing is easer and you feel fresher. Feel how good it is to have achieved your goal.

2. Now look back at what you did. Picture the steps you took just before you achieved your goal, then the step before that, all the way back to the first step.

3.Open your eyes and hold on to the good feeling of achievement.

Dealing with Cravings

When people stop smoking they will often experience cravings and withdrawal. This happens because the body misses its regular hits of nicotine. People will often believe that feelings of withdrawal are so awful that they just cannot survive without smoking. It is realistic to say that cravings are uncomfortable but can they truly be described as awful and if you experience a craving is it realistic to tell yourself that in order to survive you MUST smoke?

How to stop Smoking - psychological strategies -  frustration

Learn to tolerate frustration

The psychologist Dr Albert Ellis developed a concept he termed low ‘frustration tolerance’ (LFT). This arises when a person experiences a frustrating situation or feeling and blows it way out of proportion.

He or she will have thoughts such as:
“I can’t bear it” “I can’t stand it” “This is awful”
 “This is terrible”

If you have previously failed to stop smoking, then low frustration tolerance may be at the root of your broken goal.

You may believe that it’s just too difficult to stop smoking and that you cannot stand the unpleasant feelings associated with the cravings.Perhaps you experience a “day from hell” and believe you can’t stand feeling upset. You tell yourself, “This should not be happening to me,” and get angry and depressed.

Instead of dealing with your feelings, you medicate the emotions by smoking.It is important to understand that when working towards achieving a long-term goal there will almost inevitably be some hassles, such as emotional discomfort, along the way. When experiencing withdrawal from smoking you may tell yourself

“Its terrible to have to cope with these feelings of withdrawal”

If you want to successfully stop smoking you need to challenge the notion that you should not have to feel discomfort. No one likes to feel discomfort but can it truly be said that you can’t stand it? After all, if you truly couldn’t stand something you would die. In reality, you can stand many things.

What’s the worst that could happen if you went without a cigarette and experienced withdrawal? After all cravings are not earth shattering and the reality is that if you ‘step back’ and ‘accept ’ the feelings of withdrawal they will pass by within a few minutes.Try not to give in and sneak a smoke because you’ll just have to deal with the withdrawal longer.

Brief relaxation

Techniques such as self-hypnosis, mindfulness, meditation and yoga can be extremely useful in reducing the stress and tension that can sometimes be experienced when stoping smoking. You can also benefit from learning a brief method of relaxation. This is especially helpful if you find yourself in a stressful situation that in the past may have triggered you to smoke…

You can also practice the technique for a couple of minutes every two or three hours to keep stress at bay. All you need to do is:

1, Sit in a comfortable chair
2, Relax and close your eyes
3, Focus on the rhythm of your breathing
4, Let your whole body become loose and limp
5, Imagine a relaxing scene
6, When ready open your eyes

Lapses happen

When setting goals, adopt the attitude that you’re going to do the very best you can. Like many people, you may quit successfully for weeks or even months and then suddenly have a craving that’s so strong you ‘give in’. Or maybe you experience one of your trigger situations and give in to temptation.

If you slip up, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you’re human and slipped up this time. Take notice of when and why it happened and resolve to minimize the chances of it happening again. Doing something without demanding that you absolutely ‘must’ succeed all of the time takes some of the pressure off and, paradoxically, this can lead to a greater chance of success.

(C) Michael Cohen 2014

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