Hoping to kick cigarettes in a puff of smoke? Maybe this is the year.
Chuffing like a chimney? Now may be the time to quit.
Why now is the time to quit
So, depending on when you're reading this, either your new year's resolutions are starting to pinch or you're beginning to feel like quitting is like attempting to swim through tar (or both). But that is exactly why now might be the time. This is entirely because recognising the difficulties involved in quitting smoking, just like anything else that may be addictive could be exactly what you need. Now, this seems entirely contradictory. After all, why would quitting being hard be in any way conducive to actually being able to kick the habit for good? Every day, the cravings get worse, like that elephant in the room that's gradually growing larger and more hairy by the day until it becomes a struggle of frankly mammoth proportions. Perhaps you've gone cold turkey and it's beginning to gobble you up. Instead, perhaps you have tried to limit yourself to 4 daily instead of your usual 5, but you sneak that extra one in if you've had a bad day and before you know it, you're on your 18th of the day because after all, it has been a rough one. But, now is the time to fear not, because this shows that you know you're struggling and all this means is that you know what you have tried isn't working, which calls for a change of tack. After all, I guarantee that you'll be yet to have tried everything and all this says is that you know what doesn't work for you. With that knowledge in mind, you can begin to narrow down to something that might, instead. This is because the reason many struggle to quit is not the smoking itself, but instead other factors surrounding it.
Now, before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to maximise your chances of quitting successfully, sometimes people just need reminding about what cigarettes, or indeed other forms of tobacco usage and indeed vaping can do, and this does come with the warning that what follows may not be pleasant or comfortable for those who are of a nervous disposition or will have certain triggers. On average, smokers have 20 cigarettes daily and assuming that they are pre-rolled and with the average packet costing £13.30, that's a spend of £93.10 weekly, or £4841.20 yearly. From 2021 statistics,13.3% of adults smoke (Office for National Statistics, 2022), which is a lot of money. In the UK, around 78,000 people die with smoking related illnesses every year (NHS Choices, 2023), often slowly and painfully through various forms of cancer. Unfortunately, there is also a high chance that anyone reading this will at least know one person, as I do, who is part of that grisly statistic. If you are reading this and are part of the lucky few who have not experienced first or second hand the effects of smoking, the inhalation of smoke not only floods the lungs with a viscous black sludge similar to what is used to pave roads, but also ionises them, damaging DNA in the cells which causes cancer. For those who do not die and who still smoke, there is equally a long list of medical conditions, from heart disease to vascular damage, pneumonia, COPD, premature ageing and if you're worried about impotence make sure not to smoke, or it can prevent you from 'firing on all cylinders'. Oh, and if you're a prolific smoker, good luck having children as with each puff you're progressively more likely to be rendered infertile. A big part of my role in helping people to try and quit is to give my clients a reality check, and I can assure you that these facts are easily found on the internet, but they are also significantly more tame than what I discuss with clients on an individual basis, because the list is so long and frankly grim that to cover all of it, I would need a considerable word count.
Smoking is infamously costly, both to your bank account and ultimately your health.
How to try and quit more strategically
Assuming that the above information is insufficiently scary, there are methods that can be used to aid in quitting, which all depend on how and why you smoke. First of all, it's important to congratulate yourself for trying to quit. Choosing to discard an unhealthy habit and embarking on such a journey after all is a serious lifestyle decision, and can deliver serious benefits to not only yourself, but those around you and those you care about who will want you to stay free of any illness or harm. Referring to my last post, any kind of goals including quitting smoking should be S.M.A.R.T - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-constrained. Hence, you can form a plan for yourself based on why you do it specifically. Suppose that you smoke a pack a day, and you do it to relieve stress because of a busy schedule. Work on reducing stress to lower your nicotine dependence, whether that is a change of scenery at work, home or otherwise and then work on reducing your daily cigarettes by one every two days. Often, bold strategies such as going 'cold turkey' can work extremely well, as can reducing a cigarette each day or two but only if other factors such as why you smoke is addressed, as often smoking itself is not the reason that someone struggles to quit. Perhaps you could keep a diary to log why and when you need to smoke, and this might help you to identify any reasons for smoking you may be unaware of and continue to highlight why your smoking habit may even be illogical or unfounded. Another example would be someone who is a social smoker who only really smokes around other people, in which case they should only allow themselves to smoke alone and away from any social environment to help them to realise how unpleasant it may be for them, and that it is only the social interaction that they may be craving.
Getting others to help
Another often overlooked strategy is the role of other people. Studies have suggested that education and social pressure can both be factors that increase the chance of quitting, hence the help of others can be important (Duncan, Cummings, Hudes, Zahnd, & Coates, 1992). If you are an aforementioned social smoker, then others may be enabling you and so the first step would be to focus on being around those who will support you in stubbing your habit out instead. These can be friends, family, colleagues or other significant others or indeed anybody you look up to. Sometimes, just knowing that others are rooting for you can really give you that boost that could push you to finally put down that lighter. I have even heard of a strategy in which someone who was close to a smoker would pick up their cigarette butts and put them in a jar and give it to them once weekly as a motivator, or in the same vein, a group of extremely competitive people who collectively had a competition to see who could reduce their intake safely and stay free of smoking for good the fastest.
Alternatively, or in conjunction with your support from those who are already wanting the best for you there are professionals including myself or other hypnotherapists who will be able to help you to formulate a plan to help you to try and quit. Using a strategy like hypnotherapy or working with myself, not only could you agree on S.M.A.R.T goals that can reward you as you try and quit, but you could also have accountability, access to materials and different therapeutic techniques that can be used as an aid, and we can discuss who you are and why you smoke to formulate a strategy to maximise your chances in trying to quit. When working with me, not only would you be able to have hypnotherapy sessions, but you will be taught self-hypnosis amongst a multitude of other coping strategies that can be used when our sessions are finished for a variety of life's challenges and whatever may be thrown your way.
Trying to quit smoking can be a long, arduous, frustrating and quite frankly abrasive journey. However, with willpower, knowledge and ample opportunity, as well as the correct skillset and plenty of support, it is a journey that is best undertaken with the help of others. Why not get into contact with me at Piper Therapy Services, and see what I can do for you to help you to try and quit? A 15 minute initial chat is free, and can really give both of us a flavour of whether we are able to work together to help you on such a journey to kick those cigarettes in a puff of smoke.