Category Archives: Smoking

Quit the smoking

When I’ve spoken to previous clients some of the things they had in common which prevented them from taking real action to quit the smoking had been:

  1. They’d just been diagnosed with a health issue and had never really thought about quitting the smoking until now.
  2. There was a belief that they needed heaps of willpower and were scared of failure.
  3. They wanted to stop but felt unprepared due to life’s stresses. They believed that cigarettes relieved their stress.
  4. They’d tried other NHS approved methods and failed by drifting back into the habit.
  5. They’d had hypnosis years ago – but after a short period, someone or something always brought them back to taking a crafty drag from a seductive cigarette. So why would this time be different?
  6. Fear of hypnosis. Fear of switching from one unwanted habit to another.

And of course, you may have your own unique reasons as to why you’ve been putting off doing something about your desire to stop the smoking.

What’s going on?

All such concerns may just mean that you’re caught in a sticky net known as ‘the cycle of change.’

Freedom from Smoking

Quit Smoking

Stages of change

  • Pre-contemplate: No conscious thoughts about a need to change the smoking habit
  • Contemplation: Aware there is a need to stop the smoking, but not feeling any urgency to make the change
  • Preparation: Awoken to the need to change due to present circumstances (health or financial). Or a desire to achieve a goal which has more meaning and purpose than the smoking. (Starting a family. Improving one’s physical fitness. Being a role model for good health. Financial benefits)
  • Action: Taking real steps towards making a behavioural change in stopping the habit. Either via NHS or seeking therapy for quitting smoking
  • Maintenance: Successfully letting go of the tobacco. Sustaining a life without the old smoke by engaging in more positive behaviours.

 The worry about failure, lack of willpower, or a fear of losing control.

Many people stop the smoking and remain in the maintenance stage by being a non-smoker for the rest of their lives.  Other’s hit a new decision point…here are a few examples:

NHS methods to stop smoking can and do work for a lot of people. However, there can be unique factors that may bring a person back to the tobacco, and it has nothing to do with willpower.

“Hypnosis makes it easy to stop, it doesn’t make it impossible not to smoke.”

  • The “oh go on just have the one and see what happens” – is how the smoking may first start to seduce its way back into a recurring habit. That’s because of the way nicotine works in hijacking the reward systems of the brain.
  • Chemical reactions also train the mind to associate times, places, or people with the habit.

One person reported that after a year of stopping she went on holiday to find that the familiar environment gave her the craving to have a cigarette. Without the knowledge to know what to do she relented when offered one and then another…and then another. But the outcome could have been different if she’d had access to many essential keys, unique to her, which would have enabled her to remain a non-smoker. (more on this in a moment)

What is Hypnosis:

* “Hypnosis uses mind-states that we all enter voluntarily on a daily basis.”

There are no magic wands – there is no going under! For Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy it’s more about waking you up out of that smoking trance. And using a variety of techniques that will help you to remain present by becoming **indifferent to the smoking.

The Simmons Method: Is one of the systems that use a flexible approach.

Has the hypnotherapist extended their training to specialise in understanding that there are many essential keys to help clients become empowered?  If yes, then they can use these learnings during your treatment and you will be provided with tools that you can continue to use.  Giving you an even better chance to remain a permanent non-smoker within the ‘cycle of change’ model.

Having more choice available to you:

You may be realising that ‘willpower’ alone is not the prerequisite for quitting cigarettes. That there are other factors unique to each individual in helping them to sustain their freedom.


In some cases, people find they relapse on an occasion when there is an unexpected familiar trigger or life challenging event. Or because they decide to see what happens if they smoke!

When you’ve developed the deeper unconscious awareness, have tools at your fingertips then you can feel even more empowered. And that means breaking up with the unhealthy habit because you can lean into your own self-resiliency. (You can take back control)

Such resiliency includes understanding more about your emotional needs, and that means you don’t have to replace one unhealthy habit with another.

Maintaining your non-smoker identity:

So, if there is an unexpected trigger you have the option to quickly re-establish the preparation and action stages before the old habit takes hold.

Not all hypnotherapists work in the same way

It’s beneficial to choose a therapist who has:

  • A genuine understanding of how nicotine hijacks the reward system of the brain
  • Has interventions to help you conquer your Unique Emotional triggers
  • Provides tools which help you overcome your Environment triggers
  • Has the capability to assess and offer help with issues of chronic inescapable stress
  • Is qualified in the use of hypnosis and trained in language patterns that positively influence your mind to act towards what you truly desire.

“Being a person who is a non-smoker and having the capability to remain a non-smoker.”

Getting out of your own way

Client’s found that by asking themselves these questions it enabled them to take one real step towards their smoke-free future:

‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how strong is my motivation?’ (1 is none at all up to 10 extremely motivated to stop) The closer your answer is to 10, the closer you are to taking action.

Ask yourself these questions: a starter towards taking that next step towards your smoke-free future.

  • What are your positive reasons for stopping?
  • What do you fear if you don’t stop?
  • Who (or what) else would benefit if you do let the smoking go?
  • What means more to you than the smoking?
  • Review your scale of 1 to 10 how strong your motivation to stop now?

Ready to take the first step?

Remember to check that your therapist of choice understands and practices a flexible approach, which aims to break those associations which have taken you back to the smoking in the past.

Simmons Method quit smoking

Contact me: quit smoking

Maria Richards is a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and qualified in the Simmons Method in Smoking Cessation.

For further information:

** Meaning of ‘Indifferent’ = uninterested, unresponsive to the possibility of smoking.

*** For general information about ‘change theory’ in the field of social work you may find the following interesting:

*QCH “Hypnosis uses mind-states that we all enter daily on a voluntary basis” – to understand how Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy utilises these mind state’s you may like to read the following:

Reduce stress; don’t believe this myth…

The one thing that many people do to ‘reduce stress’…

In the lead up to the holidays are you reaching for more cigarettes as a way to combat and reduce stress?

Reduce stress Stop Smoking

You have a choice

Just for one moment STOP SMOKING…step back and READ THIS FIRST…

With stoptober way behind us, and the festive season looming it could be a time when additional stress or anxiety kicks in.  If you’ve been successful at saying bye to the smoking habit due to the NHS drive, well done.  If you find that your teetering on the edge of inhaling that  ciggie-smoke because, it’s the time of year to be jolly (and all my mates are smoking), or your tearing your hair out on the lead up  to the holidays with so much to do and so little time to do it in – and “just one drag from that fag will reduce stress” –  then here’s something that may help you re-consider.

If you can recall that cult classic TV show called the X Files – then you may also remember its main mantra “the truth is out there”.  AND in this instance ‘the truth’ may just surprise you enough to help you stop and think twice before succumbing to a false premise, because what many of the tobacco companies already know is that “cigarettes actually cause MORE stress”, and we’re talking about an accumulation of stress as the toxic fumes from that second smoke hits the back of the throat and rips its way down into the lungs. Now that’s a scary X File…

Trick of the mind:

Reduce stress_stop smoking

Duped again?

There are tricks to help the mind and tricks that delude the mind. The Nicotine trickster falls into the latter of the two.

For today’s blog one myth I’d love to dispel is “cigarettes reduce stress”, and then add in a few tips to help you get past the first 48 hours when cravings can be at their worse.  Old beliefs around the role of nicotine very often leads people to light up again and smoke even more. I believe we need to continue to get the truth out there, which gives you the choice to take back control and not be duped!

Nicotine is a chemical that attaches to the ‘dopamine’ receptors in the brain – this gives a crafty signal that you’ve got to have more nicotine because it HIJACKS the natural survival mechanism in the brain by triggering the release of much higher levels of dopamine. As the nicotine hikes up the dopamine factor then the idea of smoking becomes harder to resist. The trick being that the stress that’s associated with the need for a ciggie is actually CREATED BY THE NICOTINE as it’s withdrawing from the body. Lighting the next cigarette helps to create a balance but then the whole response cycle starts again. The brain in its search for meaning creates a learned association that tells it ‘nicotine relieves stress’ Da…dah… trick accomplished. Unless of course we become wise to that trick, educate ourselves to understand the science and take alternative action…

The first 48 hours: (what’s happening in the body)…  The poisons in tobacco create unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide in the body.

As we decide to break the cycle of the smoking – we may go through a period of craving otherwise known as ‘withdrawal symptoms.’  The good news is that once you’ve hit the 48 hour mark there is no nicotine left in the body.

  • 20 minutes – blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal.
  • 8 hours – Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels reduce by half and oxygen levels return to normal
  • 24 hours – Carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. The lungs start to clear out mucus and debris.
  • 48 hours – There is no nicotine in the body. People notice an improvement in taste and smell.

So what about some practical ideas to help blast those cravings to smithereens…

Coping in the workplace?

Just time to squash another myth  – “When the stress is high then  I DON’T HAVE THE WILLPOWER.”

Such automatic thinking behind a craving can be more powerful than the craving itself. In reality a craving only last for around 5 minutes. What we now understand is that…

Emotional connections are usually more powerful than physical ones. So what are your thoughts telling you and where is the evidence?  ‘The truth can help to set you free’ and give you back the control to say NO to a cigarette…

If you’ve tried to stop smoking but feel it’s the craving that crushes your will, then here’s some practical alternatives to distract you long enough for the cravings to pass

“It helps me relax –  A cigarette delivers chemicals that heightens stress by lowering oxygen levels by around 20 per cent in the body, adrenaline is dropped into the blood stream and the heart starts to beat faster.  Sucking on a cigarette may have been a false premise to try and bring more oxygen into the body – think about the act of breathing in deeply.  Instead – walking away from your desk, taking a break from work stress by going for a walk to breath in fresher air, taking the stairs instead of the lift means that you’re relieving stress in ways that serves you better in raising oxygen levels whilst also encouraging a healthier endorphin hormonal surge.

What else can help me eliminate the craving?” – Keep sipping, plenty of water hydrates and flushes toxins out of the body. Many tobacco companies also introduce a sugar solution to the cigarette paper – the craving may also be associated with a sugar hit. Help your brain by introducing a trick of your own by sucking on sugar free mints or gum – the unconscious mind will think it’s a supplement for the sugar – which again helps you through those few minutes of craving.

Can I do it!  Can I make smoking a thing of the past?

A lot of people have gone before you and have been permanently successful. Ask yourself why you would want to leave that habit in the past, and then what would that give you in your present. Then using your imagination to explore the consequences of taking this action as a permanent part of your life, with all the positive differences to you and those you care about which brings happiness and a much better quality of life.

Trigger factors:

There are other things that can trigger the smoking – another truth is –  it’s not about will power AND it’s not your fault –  and these are the reasons why finding yourself a therapist who understands these things can really help you become permanently free from the nicotine trickster and the smoking.  So check out your hypnotherapist before you sign up – do they understand how to help you to untangle your unique factors such as:

  • Emotional triggers
  • Environmental triggers
  • Chronic inescapable stress – before you attempt to stop the smoking
  • Depression – severe depression could be an indicator of when not to stop the smoking – or at least not straight away – (yes I did just write that)

Do you have a financial incentive? A real factor if for example you’re saving for a deposit…

Jack is a characterisation – cost is real and based on a packet of 20 branded cigarettes in November 2015

Reduce stress-stop smoking_2

Check out the savings that Jack made!









Ready to stop?  Maybe you had stopped and then you were duped back into the old habit again?  –   Maria is a specialist in ‘The Simmons Method’ (the science behind the addition), for ‘smoking cessation’.  This goes beyond the model of closing your eyes whilst listening to hypnotic inductions.  Clients receive specific attention to break the cycle of the smoking and the connections to their unique triggers.  Taught techniques to really help get permanently free. This includes documentation and an MP3 hypnosis download, that continue to support if ‘the smoking’ ever tries to trick you again.  Treatment is spread across two sessions giving a total of up to 3 hours personal one to one time. The Simmons Method supports you with ‘positive self regard’ for your well being, including the potential of an additional session for an extended period after the initial therapeutic session is over,  with the aim to care and give you the best possible experience of hypnosis and methods of treatment tailored just for you.

Interested in other tips to help reduce stress in your daily life?  Check out my blog:worry less or worry more”,

***Hypnotherapy was proven to be the best method of stopping smoking by a meta analysis of almost 72,000 subjects across USA and Europe conducted at University of Iowa by Viswesvaran & Schmidt (1992), reported in New Scientist (1992 – Volume 136, Issue 1845, Page 6).

World NO to Tobacco Day

If you want to give up smoking why not take some inspiration from the news that Saturday 31st May is World No Tobacco Day?

I want to be free from smoking

Make smoking a thing of the past

Why get smoke-free? The World Health Organisation (WHO) is responsible for the campaign, saying that smoking tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death around the world, killing nearly 6 million people a year – 600,000 of whom are non-smokers. WHO promotes the day by encouraging governments around the world to raise taxes on tobacco to save lives.

Many people use hypnotherapy to help them give up smoking and at my East London practice I’m supporting the WHO campaign by urging my readers who are wanting to give up smoking to contact either me or only practitioners who are:

a) registered with the CNHC Complementary & National Healthcare Council,  and

b) like myself have had specialist training using the Simmons Method.

What is the Simmons Method.

Based on Scientific research the Simmons Method uses cutting edge neuro-scientific research.

Simmons Method practitioners are trained to understand much more about how smoking effects the landscape of the brain, which hijacks the internal motivation and reward system making it difficult to stop the smoking. Hence you will often hear us using  the term ‘this is NOT your fault’  when we hear from people just like you who may feel wracked by guilty feelings in relation to their attempts to stop the smoking habit.

So with this in mind our approach requires much more than the use of generalised suggestions at an unconscious level to stop the smoking. The Simmons Method aims to help you understand much more about what is happening to you, and this training enables me to create bespoke treatments which help you to break all the unique associations that trigger the smoking in you.

Your survival code!

We are all born with a built in survival mechanism.  Those chemical messages that regulate and motivate us to act by providing us with, for example, a desire to eat when our energy levels are low, and in return we are rewarded by this action with a feeling of satisfaction. Ever wanted to go to the loo when your in a public place? Remember the discomfort? Remember the sheer relief after you’ve found a place to safely make your deposit!

The same mechanisms also provide the motivation in us to try out new things.  AND…

when we’ve been learning new things or successfully completed the task we can experience that glowing, even overwhelming sense of achievement.  After a while our new found ability becomes part of the norm and suddenly we find ourselves hankering after a fresh challenge, motivation builds  so that we can once again experience the journey that leads to a sense of glowing achievement.

In a nutshell…

(after the brief science bit below we’ll move onto client feedback)

Through all the complex interaction of chemicals released within the brain there are three main ‘neurotransmitters’ that are responsible for our survival:

Chemicals in the brain

knowledge can help your commitment

Dopamine –  rises to push us forward : Just like hunger pangs  will trigger that feeling that we need to eat.

Serotonin  –   will rise as we ‘do what we need to do’  you feel satisfied and this sensation will help to put the brakes on for example the desire to keep eating.

Glutamate –  In terms of our survival its important to remember this moment –  glutamate is a chemical that helps to lay down and associate the memory.

How the heck does this relate to being smoke-free?

Nicotine in cigarettes HIJACKS this natural survival mechanism. Nicotine is taken in and higher than normal levels of dopamine  (the ‘I’ve got to have it now’ chemical messenger),  gets released.  This motivation creates what’s known as a classic conditioned or ‘learned response’ that unconsciously makes us associate nicotine as being absolutely essential for survival.

As more and more dopamine gets released the idea of smoking becomes even more irresistible.

In fact that stress that’s associated with the need for a cigarette is actually CAUSED BY THE NICOTINE as it’s withdrawing from the body.  Clever huh, or just a bit cruel…

Smokers light another cigarette, to relieve this stress and get some equilibrium BUT the whole cycle just starts again.

However the brain has learned another association “nicotine relieves stress”quote the nicotine trickster…

Ever heard of ‘Pavlov’s dogs’?

Border collie with thought bubble thinking about a bone

Learn to control those craving triggers

…then you may recall that it’s possible to create an association between unrelated stimulus – here the ringing of a bell was associated with the expectation of food, causing the pooches to salivate just on the sound of the bell ringing when there wasn’t a tasty morsel in sight.

Nicotine MIMICS dopamine in the brain, creating a similar type of conditioned learning, higher levels of dopamine then need to be sated and smokers reach for the cigarette in an ever increasing nicotine feast-cycle. Which also means taking in all the other toxins that come as part of the tobacco product.

But having this knowledge means that we can do something about it.

Environmental, emotional and internal triggers:

As one example there are lots of people who recall ‘why smoking had meaning of security and belonging for them’  Some relate feelings of belonging when they became part of the ‘cool’ group at school.  Rationally these are outdated emotions, but the unconscious doesn’t get that, because these emotions and associations have become part of the unconscious survival mechanism.

The great news is that such emotional associations can be unlearned too.


Book sess smoking_future font big_button

Help to get smoke-free

Those cravings to smoke, that feeling that ‘you’ve just got to have it’ create many  physical sensations pushing a person to smoke at particular events, places, specific times, due to peer pressure,  or other triggers that are unique to you.

After a session with a trained specialist in the Simmons Method you’ll leave the therapy room having gained new insights relevant to you.  Combine this awareness with techniques and ideas that you can continue to use as positive and helpful alternatives to remain permanently free from the smoking.

Now some clients go for quitting smoking in one session, this session lasts between two to two and a half hours. Some of my colleges offer this option, whilst others prefer a multi-session approach such as two shorter clinic sessions.

I offer two shorter clinical sessions (one and a half hours each), for one package price which includes MP3 download and documentation on tools you can keep for on-going support. Then within a six month period should any unexpected triggers come up related to the smoking, you can claim an additional session at a much reduced price regular session price.

There are so many reasons why people choose to stop the smoking. Hypnotherapy is a safe, gentle way to help people who used to smoke become (and remain), non-smokers. It can be for health reasons, financial reasons or for example in learning how to address stress in your life first and then choosing to take this step to achieve freedom from the smoking habit.

You could contact me to arrange a no obligation/free of charge chat about how I could help you get freedom from smoking that is lasting and for good.


*** The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) is the UK regulator for complementary therapists that was set up with government funding and support. All practitioners on CNHC’s register have met national standards.

***Hypnotherapy was proven to be the best method of stopping smoking by a meta analysis of almost 72,000 subjects across USA and Europe conducted at University of Iowa by Viswesvaran & Schmidt (1992), reported in New Scientist (1992 – Volume 136, Issue 1845, Page 6).

The number of Simmons Method trained specialists is growing.  If you would prefer to locate a practitioner closer to your area we also have a referral system… Make contact for more information

To your good health, Maria




Maria Richards, Simmons Method Practitioner