How Fear Keeps You Smoking and, how to change it
If you’re a smoker and worried about the risks around COVID-19 then now would be a good time to think about quitting for good. It’s a harsh reality that if you’re a smoker you’re more likely to get acute respiratory infections and have a higher risk of those infections becoming severe. The time to stop smoking is now and there has never been a better time to stop smoking.
Sure, you may be thinking, but quitting is hard! Especially now that stress is so high and my routine has been so suddenly disrupted! If quitting smoking was easy I would have already done it! I hear you. Perhaps, like the majority of people who smoke you may feel panicky even at the mere thought of stopping smoking! Are you scared of giving up? Is the thought of quitting filling you with anxiety? Do you want to stop smoking one day, but just not today?
If this is you... you are not alone! In fact, most smokers continue for one main reason... FEAR!
Fear is what stops you from quitting smoking
- Fear that you will have to go through a long time of feeling deprived, wanting to smoke and suffering because of it
- Fear that you will not enjoy social occasions as much as before
- Fear that you won't be able to concentrate, that you will be irritable
- Fear that you will gain weight
- Fear that you won't be as confident without the crutch of cigarettes
- Fear that you will go crazy with stress and anxiety and won't be able to calm down
- Fear that you will lose who you are, your identity and personality
- Fear that you will lose the 'only helpful friend' that was there for you
Here's the thing though. The fear of quitting cold turkey is created by this 'addictive thinking' itself! You are not addicted to cigarettes, you are thinking in a way that keeps you stuck. Fear is your real enemy, not the cigarettes! So what's the first step forward?
First of all you need to be motivated. Motivation can be negative (what will happen to me if I don't stop) and positive (what will happen to me when I do) . Here are a few questions that can get you started on the road to freedom.
Get Motivated to Quit Smoking!
Make a list of the reasons to quit
There are probably a number of them - but have you ever actually written them as a list?
Set a quit date and stick to it!
The subconscious is a goal striving mechanism. Give it a positive goal instead of a negative one (what you want, not what you don't)
Change your brand
One week before quitting change brand of cigarettes. This will make you more aware of your habit. Choose a brand that would not be as enjoyable.
Change your routine
i.e. If you normally smoke after a meal, break out of this routine. Try substituting with different activities that meet your needs. For some it may be reading a chapter of a book, watching a TV show, going for a walk, having a cup of tea, taking a break or retreat to a part of the house where you wouldn’t normally smoke.
Understand the function of the cigarette
what do you tell yourself cigarettes are doing for you? this is the need that you are trying to meet (and failing). If the cigarette really worked you wouldn't need another would you? What then would actually work? i.e. if you tell yourself cigarettes calm you down, what other activity would actually calm you down?
Even a five minute walk around the block produces chemicals in the brain that reduce cravings
Use positive affirmations
Use affirmations several times a day and say them to yourself with conviction. Feel what it would be like to give yourself permission to 'try them on'. Act as if they were true and soon enough they will be. i.e. 'I have left a false toxic friend behind forever and I feel better and better'. 'I can do this and it feels good!'
Hypnotherapy can help you to have your last cigarette ever!
If you haven’t been able to quit smoking before, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do it now! And if you could stop smoking easily and without cravings, why wouldn’t you break out of that habit into a fresher, cleaner, healthier you?
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