So we are fast approaching that time of year again where smokers everywhere hang up their fags and give retirement a good old go. Lighters get binned, ashtrays get put in the garage and in general the air outside feels just that little bit fresher.
You have probably noticed but for a while now there has been quite a strong drive to squash smoking out of society (if you haven’t noticed then just where have you been?;-) It really has made quite a difference hasn’t it? Nowadays when you walk through the street and someone is smoking, if you are a non-smoker you REALLY notice it whereas a few years ago it would just seem natural and normal. I worked in a pub for many years happily inhaling other peoples’ cigar smoke without even thinking about it. Now the smoke from a single cigarette from 20 metres away in a busy high street can literally cause me to break down in a fit of coughing and choking and desperately seek some shelter.
How times have changed.
I myself smoked for a number of years and so I will never judge those that continue to do so but I have to say some of the things I have learned about smoking over the last few years I really wish I had known before.
Some interesting facts about smoking
Whether you are Stoptobering it or not this year – there are a few things I wanted to share with you in this blog about smoking that you may or may not already know. I am not going down the old fashioned ‘your lungs are blackened’ route and I will not be showing you picture’s of the insides of a 30 a day smoker.
Let’s begin with the classic line that I myself used to use…. “Smoking is my way of dealing with stress…. And that’s why I can’t quit”.
I am sure at some point you may have heard something similar to this said… and you may even have said it yourself.
The fact is though that there are actually no chemicals inside a cigarette that are shown to significantly reduce stress! Seriously.
So what does this mean? And why does smoking seem to have a stress relieving effect?
To answer this question we simply have to look at how smoking affects your body during a normal day. So let’s look at a day in the life of a smoker.
You wake up and you have not smoked for 7 hours or so and so you begin your day in the delightful state of withdrawal. The levels of nicotine in your body are now so low that you need a significant top up (ever noticed that craving for a cigarette first thing in the morning – this is what that’s all about).
And so you have your first cigarette of the day and as that nicotine finds its way into your system you feel great don’t you? Because you are now OUT of withdrawal.
The second you put that first cigarette out you now begin to go into withdrawal again. Within an hour or so the levels of nicotine will be so low that you will begin to experience anxiety – the first symptom of withdrawal - alongside a craving for nicotine.
And so begins the pattern. All day long as a smoker you are in and out of withdrawal. How wonderful. The symptoms of withdrawal are anxiety, irritability and increased feelings of stress and hence when you smoke you are relieving these symptoms and then a strong association is built between smoking and stress relief. Ta Da. As a smoker you then convince yourself that smoking reduces stress.
The reality is very different indeed. In fact research shows that non-smokers and ex-smokers have lower baseline stress levels than smokers. This basically means then, that to feel less stressed in your life, your best option is to quit smoking!!
Another interesting approach to stopping smoking that I hear people talk about is ‘cutting down’. Rather than smoking 30 a day they will cut down to just 5. It sounds great doesn’t it? However by cutting down how much we smoke it actually increases the feeling of relief that we get when we actually do light up! It positively reinforces an attachment to cigarettes!
Kicking the habit with Hypnotherapy and NRT
So what should you do? If you are truly committed to giving up smoking I would advise you against cutting down but instead encourage you to just stop, using nicotine replacement therapy to help you manage the symptoms of withdrawal, gradually reducing your dosage until the withdrawal subsides. In addition to this of course Hypnotherapy is a fantastic way to stop smoking and can be used on its own or alongside NRT.
In my practice I usually use a three session approach to stopping smoking. Two of these sessions are within 7 – 10 days of each other and the third (optional) session is a booster that we carry out a few weeks later. In my experience, quite often the two sessions is all that’s needed.
How to receive your free hypnosis audios for becoming a non-smoker AND for going sober this Stoptober
To celebrate this Stoptober I have teamed up with Embrace East Sussex - Embrace is a charity for children with special needs and disabilities, promoting inclusion and improving life skills and opportunities through clubs, outreach and advocacy. It is a cause that is very close to my heart and I am therefore offering a free hypnotherapy audio for you to use during October to support you in giving up smoking – and in addition to this we are also encouraging you to go sober by offering free audios to help you go alcohol free during October.
To get your free audios – all we ask you to do is to make use of one of our sponsor forms as we seek to raise money for the wonderful children of Embrace. To sign up and receive your free packs including sponsor forms and the hypnosis audios please contact Embrace East Sussex or contact me stating whether you would like to receive the ‘Become a non-smoker’ or the ‘Go Sober’ audio (or both) and then leave your name, email address and postal address. We will do the rest!
You can also find Ignite Hypnotherapy and Embrace East Sussex on Facebook and Twitter – either of which are suitable channels to get in touch!