Stoptober is an NHS initiative designed to support people wanting to kick their smoking addiction. Their figures claim that if you can give up smoking for 28 days you’re five times more likely to stop for good.
In many ways, the growth in popularity of e-cigarettes is proof that you’re not alone in your desire to give up – they also provide an excellent tool to help you cut your nicotine intake. However, giving up the smoking habit for good is about more than swapping your cigarettes for another addiction. It’s about retraining your brain and body so that you no longer desire cigarettes in any form – or at least can refrain from smoking one, however much you crave it!
Dealing with any addictive behaviour is not easy – it’s a daily battle – so we’ve developed a few simple psychological tips to help you get through Stoptober – and beyond…
Identify your motivationWe all have a reason to want to give up something we enjoy - whether this be for health reasons; to lose weight / save money; or even just because friends and family have asked us to. We suggest writing out what is motivating you to do this and posting it somewhere you can see it easily. Then whenever you feel your cravings come to the fore, you can be reminded of the reason you’re quitting.
Go publicIf you’re serious about quitting, tell as many people as you can. The more people who know, the more people available to help you through the difficult times, but more than this, you’ll also find that the more people who know about your efforts, the harder it will be to fall off the wagon and go back to your addiction because you’ll feel like you’ve let everyone down – not just yourself.
Keep busyVery often the desire to light up stems from one of two reasons: habit and boredom. In order to keep on track, it’s really important to keep yourself busy – introduce a distraction that you can call upon whenever you feel the need to light up. This is often easier to do at work than it is at home, so take advantage. Make a cup of tea, do a few sit ups, run up and down stairs a couple of times, play a couple of rounds of a game on your phone – anything to take your mind off cigarettes, until the craving lessens. Many people find chewing gum, or sucking on a sweet, helps to keep their mouth occupied and reduces the need to smoke – it's worth a try - you've nothing to lose.
Visualise the best resultVisualisation is a tried and tested practice for helping to rewire thought processes. Brain studies reveal that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. In other words, when we think about positive outcomes, we are more likely to conquer our fears. Picture yourself in your mind as a non-smoker. How will you feel? Healthier, happier, richer? You need to picture your success, in order to be successful.
Turn it into a challengeWhy not have yourself a sponsored Stoptober and asks friends and family to sponsor you to succeed? You could even pledge the money you save from your first month of quitting to a charity or cause that’s close to your heart, then you can see just how much money your smoking habit was costing you. And again, by involving others in your journey, it’s much harder to fail.
All that remains for us to say is: good luck – you can do it!
More information and resources to help you through Stoptober >