People stop smoking 10 or 20 times a day. The real problem is to stop oneself from starting again.
Only you can make the decision whether or not to stop smoking. Certainly it can be difficult to give up anything that has been a habit for a long time but certain methods have been designed to make the task an easier one.
There is conclusive evidence that cigarette smoking is a dangerous and sometimes deadly habit. It is directly linked to lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema. And of course there are all the other detrimental side effects, which can include shortness of breath, chest pain, gastrointestinal disorders, even bad breath and nicotine-stained fingers.
The Cancer Risk
One man in 10 who smokes 40 cigarettes a day will get lung cancer as against one man in 210 non-smokers. The average person who uses cigarettes lights up 30 times a day, 210 times each week and a quarter of a million times in 20 years.
The heavy smoker is in danger of losing about one minute of life for every minute spent smoking. On average this represents the loss of 10 years.
Despite these formidable implications, people continue to puff away. There is a reason for this. Smoking, which usually begins as a social habit, inevitably become a substitute for emotional needs or deprivations, which all of us have to some degree or another.
How to Stop Smoking
Everybody experiences some form of inner anxiety. The act of cigarette smoking, lighting up, fiddling with the cigarette packet and so on, help transfer these inner tensions to a more manageable exterior, variety.
Psychologists who have developed a “stop smoking” program at the Australian College of Recorded Education believe that by relieving tension and anxiety a person also relieves much of the desire to smoke. Therefore the knowledge of how to relax and alleviate nervous tension is most important.
Firstly, the smoker establishes a firm date, about two weeks hence, on which he or she will stop smoking for good. During this time, relaxation exercises are practised and some positive ideas about the uselessness of the smoking habit developed in the mind.
Most people fool themselves about cigarette smoking. They tell themselves over long periods of time that they need to smoke, that the craving for nicotine is stronger than they, that they will never be able to stop.
These entirely erroneous impressions are recorded by the subconscious and accepted as truth. It is necessary to build into the subconscious new ideas about cigarette smoking and this is best done by affirmative thinking. For example in bed at night, just before you drop off to sleep, when you are relaxed, you make sincere and positive statements such as this:
“Cigarettes. . . easy to stop… no need for them . . . cigarettes . . . what a waste”.
Two weeks of this sort of repetitive training helps alter thoughts about cigarette smoking and most people feel by then, they are not up against the impossible.
You learn to relax by learning to let go. And that means letting go both mentally and physically. In a typical relaxation session, a person normally lies on the floor and mentally commands various parts of the body to relax. When the body is relaxed he or she then concentrates on relaxing the mind, by actually telling it what to do.
A person should sub-vocalise thoughts such as these: “Easy . . . easy . . . letting go . . . feeling more and more relaxed . . .”.
Apart from relaxation and affirmative thought, many other things help. For example, study the times when you are most prone to light up. Some people cannot seem to hold a telephone conversation without a cigarette in their hand. It is a reflex action.
It also helps to let your friends know your plan. Make a public commitment. Put yourself out on a limb where your own basic pride will lend a hand.
Choose a time when you are exposed to the least tensions to implement your plan. The weekend is often the best.
Treat the whole venture with cheerful seriousness. Giving up cigarettes is not the hardest thing you have ever done and you are not the only person who has succeeded. Cigarettes have possibly dominated many strategic hours of your life. Put something else in their place. If you like sucking something, suck a peppermint, even a pencil.
Cigarette smoking is much more a psychological than a physical demand. But it is wise to go on a one day or two-day fast to get the nicotine out of your system as quickly as possible. A day fast is not too difficult, but if a two-day one is impossible, eat fresh fruit and cooked or fresh vegetables. Remember to drink plenty of water and fruit juice, as fluids purify the system. Try to stop or cut down on alcohol, tea and coffee as they most often create an urge to smoke. Deep breathing and exercise also help to rid the system more quickly of nicotine.
Remember good health and enjoyment of our physical attributes is a natural right. It has been given to us, so let us take it and enjoy it.