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“No Smoking Day” has been and gone for another year, and perhaps for some who pledged to give up on March 14, the urge to light up is proving difficult to resist.
If you are feeling calm and happy then giving up smoking is not as difficult as many people think. In fact, it can be quite easy; our belief that it is difficult, however, can get in the way of success. On the other hand, if you are going through a particularly stressful time, you are far less likely to succeed as every addict knows. New research from the University of California helps to explain why, and the reasons are somewhat surprising. Apparently, it isn’t just that we need our chosen prop more when stressed and anxious.
Professor of gerontology and psychology, Mara Mather, who co-authored the research, concludes that stress alters our decision-making abilities. Specifically, when under stress, people remember the rewards of an activity and forget the punishments. So, the smoker, or other addict, will remember the pleasures associated with smoking a cigarette, having a drink or eating a packet of biscuits and de-emphasise the risks and negative consequences.
So the message is clear and for more reasons than we thought – if you are trying to overcome an addiction, don’t choose a time when you are experiencing a lot of stress, if possible. Choose a time when the waters are relatively calm and have a couple of strategies ready for times when you have anxious moments and the process will be easier.
Here’s a strategy to help any readers who are trying to overcome an addiction or change a habit.
Spend 5 – 10 minutes daily on this visualisation and adapt it to your particular needs.
Imagine yourself in the future as a non-smoker. Put as much detail as possible into your mental image. Perhaps you are at an event – imagine saying “No” to a cigarette and feel how good it feels. Put a smile on your face as you decline the offer. How do you look? How can you tell that you have really changed? Hear other people congratulating you and imagine inspiring others with your success. Make sure that all your senses are involved in the visualisation and really experience the joy of success.
Jocelyn and Kristina at Trance-Formed