Why quit smoking? There are many reasons, but the primary motivator to give up cigarettes is quite simple: it saves lives. Smoking kills; this is a fact that nobody in their right mind can dispute. However, a point of contention vis-à-vis smoking cessation is whether or not smoking is a physical addiction or a psychosocial habit. In recent years, scientific evidence points to the latter: smoking fulfills a psychological need. And like physical addictions, psychological needs produce a state of withdrawal when they are not being fulfilled.
The smoker’s mind is programmed to view cigarettes as a reward, a form of tension release or a social aid. Continuous smoking reconditions these thought processes. For example, let’s say a student rewards herself with a cigarette during long study sessions. She habituates her study cigarette breaks. She becomes accustomed to the reward and tension release provided by the cigarette. When she decides to quit smoking, the student finds that she begins to crave cigarettes when she studies. Her mind has been trained to associate the cigarette with reward and stress relief. Thus, study sessions become a point in the day in which cigarette cravings increase. These craving are typically characterized by:
- Inability to concentrate on the task(s) at hand
- Physical desire for the cigarette manifesting as throat sensations
Unlike the withdrawal from a physical addiction, which can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, psychosocial withdrawal can last for months, years and even a lifetime if not properly dealt with. The good news is that the brain can be rewired and reconditioned, but this requires much more work and patience than physical re-conditioning after substance withdrawal.
In order to overcome cigarette cravings, smokers must learn to form new thought processes and habits. The smoker must retrain the belief system that tells him or her that the cigarette is a reward. There are many ways to do this, but one very helpful method of smoking cessation and craving cessation is a hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapists help their patients disarm unhealthy belief systems by replacing them with healthy thought processes and habits. This is done during hypnotic induction or a state of deep relaxation in which a hypnotherapist provides suggestions that the patient can then internalize as a new system of beliefs. With hypnotherapy, the possibilities are endless and the process is harmless.
The reason to quit smoking is clear but the way to do it is not always easy—indeed, quitting smoking is a daunting task. However, people who are able to get into the mind over matter mindset and patiently exercise will power can learn to re-wire their brains and re-build their thought processes for better health and a deeper sense of satisfaction with life.
Are you up for the challenge? Have you overcome it? What tips can you share with those trying to quit smoking? Share in the comments below or hop on over to our Facebook page and join the discussion there. We’d love to hear from you.