Did you know that No Smoking Day will soon be with us? Wednesday March 13th marks the annual one-day campaign for stopping smoking and each year it has a different, catchy theme. This year, it’s “Swap Fags for Swag” and it will focus on all the other things you could be spending your hard earned money on were you to give up smoking.
You may be surprised to learn that I’m not a complete fan of National No Smoking Day, in fact to be perfectly honest, as a solution-focused therapist, it irks me somewhat. Organisers of the first campaign in 1984 (launched on Ash Wednesday, naturally) claimed that 1.3 million smokers refrained on the day, 20,000 of whom stopped smoking permanently. I have two concerns about this: firstly, where did they get these figures from and how do they know? Equally importantly, how much difference is a one-day awareness initiative going to make to a heavy smoker who thinks they are addicted to nicotine? It’s also extremely unlikely that there is anyone out there that doesn’t know that smoking is unhealthy!
Human nature is a funny thing, you know. Our subconscious minds respond much better to a positive request than an instruction NOT to do something. If I tell you that you can’t have a chocolate biscuit, I won’t be too surprised when I find you heading straight for your secret Hob Nob stash (other biscuit brands are available). If you’re under strict instructions not to think of a pink elephant, you’re straight there, aren’t you? In my view, it’s the “No” in “National No Smoking Day” that gets under my skin and I’d rather we focused on encouraging and educating people to lead healthier lives and providing more effective services to help those people who are serious about wanting to stop smoking on an ongoing basis.
It made me smile when I read that journalist Rod Liddle (he of Radio 4 fame) simply said that his one aim on No Smoking Day was to “double my usual intake of nicotine”.
Stopping smoking is easy – it really is – it’s staying stopped that’s the hard part. I work with clients to address the emotional and psychological issues surrounding cigarettes and how simple modifications in behaviour can lead to major lifestyle changes, including freedom from cigarettes. For ever!
I’ve got over 15 years’ experience of supporting thousands of smokers to quit smoking and I know that there are three significant elements to kicking the habit:
1. The Decision. Make up your mind that you WILL do it. You need to want to stop smoking and I mean really really want to do it, not think that you’ll simply give it a go.
2. The Choice. Give yourself the best chance of success by deciding how you’re going to do it: pills, patches, hypnosis - what’s the right option for you? A word of advice, though: willpower doesn’t work. I’ll talk again in another blog about why willpower often leads to “won’t power”.
3. The Commitment. Learn how to stay stopped and be a non-smoker for the rest of your life.
The benefits of kicking a smoking habit into touch are immense, not least in the increased feelings of being in control and a strong sense of well being but we don’t need to be told not to do it. Maybe we should change National No Smoking Day to ‘Do something healthy day’ or perhaps ‘Smoke as much as you can day’. I wonder whether reverse psychology might work for Rod Liddle?
If you’d like some help in stopping smoking permanently, give me a call on 01273 509 793
March 12th, 2013