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?
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:
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.
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
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).