How to Stop Smoking For Good

There’s no doubt that we’re living through incredibly anxiety-inducing times. As the pandemic continues and the nation is urged to stay home, some are finding comfort in activities like exercise, crafts, reading and baking. Unfortunately, many smokers have what Jim McCreadie - a therapist with Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking – calls a ‘belief system’ that cigarettes will also help ease stress. In challenging times like these, they perceive smoking to be calming. However, it’s through questioning this belief system that Jim and his colleagues help smokers quit, for good.

Understanding Your Belief System

Though restrictions have meant Jim’s clinics are now held online, his process is the same. “At the start of a session,” he explains, “we ask people to share both their reasons to keep smoking, and their reasons to stop.” The second list, he says, is always the same – things like money, health and family. However, by focusing on these factors, smokers get stressed – and, you guessed it, reach for a cigarette, believing it will calm them down. "The thought of getting lung cancer made me want to stop smoking,” says Jim, an ex-smoker himself, “but it didn’t actually help me quit. Every time I thought about getting cancer, it stressed me out. But because my belief system was: ‘having a cigarette eases stress’, I continued to smoke. In reality, it was the very fact that I was a smoker in the first place that gave me the fear of getting cancer.

Debunking Smoking Myths

The aim then, is to debunk the many smoking ‘myths’ that convince people they can’t stop. “We don’t focus on why they shouldn’t smoke,” says Jim, “but rather, why they do.” By exploring the reasons people justify their smoking – it reduces stress, or withdrawal will be too difficult, Jim helps them realise that they simply don’t make sense. He shares an analogy that sums it all up: “Smoking cigarettes is like waking up in the morning, putting on a pair of shoes a couple of sizes too small, just so that after an hour you can take them off and say - ‘ah, that’s better’.” Once smokers realise that cigarettes are the cause of their stress, or that withdrawal from nicotine is actually very slight, they understand they have the power to stop whenever they like. 

Today’s the Day

Have you been telling yourself you want to stop smoking, but panicked when you focused on things like the cost of cigarettes, or danger to your health? Irish Life Health members with a hospital plan receive €70 off the cost of an Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking session. Find out more here.

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