How to Quit Smoking - 7 simple steps to stop smoking
By Matthew James
Finding a way to quit smoking sometimes seems like the search for the Holy Grail. However, achieving your aim doesn't have to be fraught with stress and difficulty. Here are seven simple steps that you can take to stop smoking.
Step 1 - Overcoming cravings
Being a smoker is like using crutches for so long that you think the crutches are a part of you and your own legs waste away, but when you stand on you own two feet again, the strength soon returns.
When people smoke more than half of what they breathe is fresh air - pulled through the cigarette right down into the lungs. So if you feel any cravings you can instantly overcome them by taking three deep breaths. Whenever you do this you put more oxygen into your bloodstream. This means you can use deep breaths to change the way you feel instantly and give you power over the cravings.
Step 2 - Why do you want to quit smoking?
Next, think now of all the reasons you don't like smoking, why it's bad and why you want to stop. Write down the key words on a piece of paper. For example, you get short of breath, it's dirty and your clothes smell, your breath smells and it's expensive, inconvenient and so on. Then, on the other side of the paper, write down all the reasons why you'll feel good when you've succeeded in stopping. You'll feel healthier, your sense of taste and smell is enhanced, and your hair and clothes will smell fresher and so on. Whenever you need to, look at that piece of paper.
Step 3 - Re-programme your thoughts
Next, we are going to programme your mind to feel disgusted by cigarettes. I want you recall 4 times when you thought to yourself "I've got to quit", or that you felt disgusted about smoking. Maybe you just felt really unhealthy, or your doctor told you in a particular tone of voice 'You've got to quit' or somebody you know was badly affected by smoking. Take a moment now to come up with 4 different times that you felt that you have to quit or were disgusted by smoking.
Remember each of those times, one after another, as though they are happening now. I want you to keep going through those memories and make them as vivid as possible. See what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel how you felt. I want to take a few minutes now to keep going through those memories again and again, overlap each memory with the next until you are totally and utterly disgusted by cigarettes.
Step 4 - What are the consequences if you don't stop smoking?
It's also helpful to really consider for a moment what the consequences are if you don't stop smoking now, if you just carry on and on. Imagine it, what will happen if you carry on smoking. What are the consequences?
Next, imagine how much better is your life going to be after you've stopped. Really imagine it is months from now and you successfully stopped. Cigarettes are a thing of the past, keep that feeling with you, and imagine having it tomorrow, and for the rest of next week.
Step 5 - Breaking smoking associations
Also the human mind is very sensitive to associations, so it's very important that you have a clear out and remove all cigarettes from your environment. Move some of the furniture in your house and at work. Smokers are accustomed to cigarettes in certain situations. So, for example, if you used to smoke on the telephone at work move the phone to the other side of the desk.
Step 6 - Take a break!
Smokers use cigarettes to give themselves little breaks during the day. Taking a break is good for you, so carry on taking that time off - but do something different. Walk round the block, have a cup of tea or drink of water, or do some of the techniques on this programme. In fact, if possible drink a lot of fruit juice. When you stop smoking the body goes through a big change. The blood sugar levels tend to fall, the digestion is slowed down and your body starts to eject the tar and poisons that have accumulated. Fresh fruit juice contains fructose that restores your blood sugar levels, vitamin C that helps clear out impurities and high levels of water and fiber to keep your digestion going. Also try to eat fruit every day for at least two weeks after you have stopped.
Also when you stop, cut your caffeine intake by half. Nicotine breaks down caffeine so without nicotine a little coffee will have a big effect.
Step 7 - Change your feelings
You were used to using cigarettes to signal to your body to release happy chemicals, so next we are going to programme some good feelings into your future. I'd like you to fully remember now a time when you felt very deep pleasure. Take a moment to recall it as vividly as possible. Remember that time - see what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel how good you felt.
Keep going through the memory, as soon as it finishes, go through it again and again, all the time squeezing your thumb and finger together. That's right, see what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel how good you felt. Pictures big and bright, sounds loud and crisp and feelings strong. We are making an associational link between the squeeze of your fingers and that good feeling.
Okay, stop and relax. Now if you have done that correctly when you squeeze your thumb and finger together you should feel that good feeling again. Go ahead do that now, squeeze thumb and finger, and remember that good feeling.
Now we're going to programme good feelings to happen automatically whenever you are in a situation where you used to smoke.
Next I'd like you to squeeze your thumb and finger together, get that good feeling going and now imagine being in several situations where you would have smoked, but being there feeling great without a cigarette. See what you'll see hear and take that good feeling into those situations without a need for a cigarette.
Imagine being in a situation where someone offers you a cigarette and you confidently say 'No thanks, I don't smoke'. And feel good about it!