Distract Yourself to Quit Smoking!

The highly esteemed WebMD I discovered has a series of fifteen quit-smoking tips ‘for the first hard days’. Apart from the discouraging title rubbing it in that it will be hard – but why should it be hard? – none these tips shows understanding of why people smoke in the first place and most of them are absurd. I’ll comment on some of them.

Tip 1: Sip, Eat.
Sipping cold water through a straw can help replace the act of sucking on a cigarette. It also releases dopamine, a brain chemical that can help ease bad moods…

This is what we’ve all been waiting for! How to abolish unhappiness! Sip cold water through a straw! By the way, you don’t need to replace the act of sucking on a cigarette – it’s wonderful enough of itself not to have to suck one cigarette after another, day in and day out.

Tip 2. Note Instant Rewards.
You can soon start to enjoy the benefits of a smoke-free life. Keep a list of the good changes as you begin to notice them.

This is mistake a lot of people make: they expect to feel wonderful as soon as they stop smoking. But if they don’t, they may be disappointed and use this as an excuse to start smoking again.

Tip 4. Avoid Alcohol.
Drinking it is one of the most common things that make people go back to smoking.

Many smokers think of quitting smoking as a sacrifice. Now you have to give up alcohol as well (if you’re a drinker). No wonder it seems so hard! And what if you’re not a drinker?

Tip 5. Find Your Own No-Smoking Zones.
When the urge to smoke strikes, go somewhere you can’t light up…The more distracting the place is, the easier it will be to ride out cravings.

Oh dear. So you’ll have ‘cravings’ which you’ll have to ‘ride out’. Thanks a lot!

Tip 7. Be Active Every Day.
Exercise offers a powerful distraction from cravings.

Exercise is a good idea of itself, but who says you’ll have cravings? And why is the best way to deal with them, whatever they are, to distract yourself? Why not try to understand and face them?

Tip 8. Fill Your Calendar.
During the first few weeks after you kick the habit, schedule lots of things you want or need to do…The busier you are, the more distracted you’ll be from the urge to smoke.

Same problem. If you can be distracted for a few weeks, it’ll all be plain sailing? Is refraining from smoking a matter of being distracted all the time? And what happens after the first few weeks – the need to be distracted will have faded away?

Tip 9. Put Something Else in Your Mouth.
Part of the urge to smoke is having something in your mouth. In place of a cigarette, pop in sugar-free chewing gum, hard candy, or a healthy snack when you feel like you want to light up…

This can only be described as idiotic. The reason smokers smoke is not because they have a need to ‘pop’ something in their mouth, but because they feel the need for another dose of the poison nicotine to which they are addicted.

Tip 10. Secure a Lifeline.
Ask someone to be there for you when you need support…when times get tough.

That’s right – put the burden on someone else. What are you supposed to say to this someone? ‘Help! I feel the urge to smoke coming upon me! Tell me, tell me – what must I do, or rather, not do?’ And what is the someone supposed to say in reply? ‘Hang in there. Be strong! You can do it!’

Tip 11. Limit Caffeine.
Caffeine helps some people get going in the morning….Breaking your nicotine addiction can boost those effects. If caffeine makes you jumpy or anxious, cut back on it.

This is confused and patronising. Who says stopping smoking boosts the effects of caffeine? How much are you supposed to limit it? It sounds like another sacrifice.

Tip 12. Notice Bad Moods.
Negative emotions – stress, anger, frustration – are another common reason people go back to smoking…Find ways to distract yourself….

It would be difficult not to notice bad moods. And now, for Tip 12, you are supposed to distract yourself some more. At this rate you’re going to end up in very distracted state!

Apart from the questionable, repeated advice to distract yourself, all the above tips seem to be intended to help you boost your willpower to resist the ‘urges’ and ‘cravings’ to smoke.

If only there was a way to stop smoking without willpower!

There is. It’s called the Symonds Method.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

Gabriel Symonds

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