Lee's 12 Tips to Help You Quit


(Note to other therapists: You may reuse this article freely for your own websites and publications providing that Lee Tiller is always credited as the author)

Tip number 1: Commit to Quit

Start with a strong commitment to quitting. To succeed, you really must believe that you can and will accomplish your goal. Plan a date to quit in advance, tell friend and family of your intentions and ask for their support.

To strengthen your belief that you can and will quit, express your goal in a positive way. Say “On this date, I am going to become a natural non smoker” or “on this date I will begin moving towards a healthier, fitter, sexier and longer life”

Mark the date with a private (or shared) ‘ceremony’ to mark the start of your new life as a non smoker. This helps to make it special for you and those that care for you. Take ownership and responsibility of your personal change. Do not allow others to deflect you.

Tip number 2: Sensing success!

Imagination is a powerful tool that can help you commit to and achieve your goal of becoming a non smoker. Picture yourself at some time in the future as having achieved your objective. Remember to use each of your five senses though, for example:

How do you feel? How will it feel to wake up in the morning breathing easily and freely? Imagine taking a deep breath of pure clear air and filling your lungs. Imagine a brisk walk and feeling energised.

How do you look? See your teeth white and your skin a healthy glow, your face happy and relaxed when in the company of others. You are a non-smoker. Enjoy the feeling!

What can you hear? Perhaps hearing your friends congratulate you on your success, or hear yourself declining a cigarette saying “no thanks I don’t smoke”. Doesn’t that sound great!
How does it taste? Ah the sweet taste of success! Imagine the improved flavours of food and drink as your taste buds recover from the onslaught of nicotine. Enjoy it!

How do you smell? Imagine holding your clothes to your face and breathing in the fresh clean scent of newly washed linen. Your breath, fingers and hair smell great too!

Visualisation can help you strengthen your resolve and propel you towards success. Use this technique to reinforce your belief that you can achieve your goal and thereby strengthen your resolve to do so.

Tip number 3: Success journaling

Time and time again, the evidence for the benefits of journaling as a tool for effective change is overwhelming. The simple truth is that you will greatly increase your chances of success if you write and record your feelings, thoughts and experiences. You don’t need to be able to write well, but do write, in fact doodle and get creative! Writing gives us time to pause, reflect and really explore our feelings and experiences.

Tip number 4: Stay grey!

Life is never black and white, it’s not clockwork, it’s not robotic and nor should you be expected to be. So abandon the ‘all or nothing’ principle of self-control. Take the middle road, or what I refer to as the grey space in between. Don’t interpret one or two blips along the way as disasters, just see them as minor road bumps and a reminder to take care.

Realise that these occasional ‘life bumps’ may alter the smoothness of your journey from time to time, but it is not failure. This is your personal journey, so remain flexible and motivated. One step backwards amongst 10 steps forward is still forward. So take one day at a time and stay grey!

Tip number 5: Visual reminders

Consider writing your goal on pieces of card or paper, and keeping them where you'll see them often, on your desk, on the fridge door, in your wallet by your bed.

This is so important I’ll say it again: write your goal and leave it so that it’s visible throughout the day. Leave yourself reminders everywhere, at work, at home, in the car, by the loo, in your briefcase, by your bed and so on.

Cut out colourful pictures from magazines and create a collage of all the reasons why you are choosing to become a natural non smoker. Make it really exciting and give it meaning, make it compelling. Next stick it on the back of the door in the loo, or somewhere else where you’ll see it often!

Tip number 6: The proximal effect

Rather than focus on ‘all or nothing’ longer term goals, aim to achieve short term goals of 3 days, then 5 days then 10 days etc. These are called ‘proximal goals’ and a re a far better and more effective way of achieving long term change.

At then end of each ‘proximal goal time frame’, make sure that you reward, recommit and set a new short term goal. Research clearly shows that ‘proximal goals’ lead to greater persistence, improved confidence and considerably more success than setting longer term goals.

Tip number 7: Reward yourself!

Once a week, review your success and reward yourself with a treat. Perhaps take a trip to the cinema with friends, or a meal, or purchase a nice piece of clothing. Its not self indulgence, its part of the ‘success process’ so do it!

We all enjoy a treat from time to time, so reward yourself for your efforts. Even the most committed person needs a lift occasionally, and the best way of achieving this is though self reward. Enjoy!

Tip number 8: H2O = clearly beneficial

Most of us ignore our basic physiological needs and drink far too little water. Yet this simple act can yield significant benefits including lessening the desire for a cigarette! Keep a few small bottles of icy cold water close to you throughout the day, and any time you feel a craving or desire, take a mouthful of icy cold water, hold it in your mouth for thirty seconds… and voila,  significantly reduced or no craving! Simply brilliant.

While you’re at it commit to drinking at least 1.5 litres of cool pure water gradually throughout each day. You’ll feel better emotional and physically too.

Tip Number 9: By association

The act of smoking becomes reinforced over time creating habit connections or what we refer to as automatic associations. Never underestimate their potential for derailing your best efforts. A common smoker’s association is automatically having a cigarette with a cup of coffee or tea, or immediately following a meal.

These are all learned behaviours rather like driving a car. Initially you are very conscious of your actions, but then after a driving for while you do things automatically… by association. You are no longer aware that you’re pressing the clutch or brake pedal. The smoking habit is full of automatic associations.

Changing certain behaviours can disrupt these patterns and make life easier. For instance, if you are a heavy coffee drinker, switch to tea for two weeks, or if you are an ‘after meal smoker’ go for a brisk walk followed by a glass of ice cold water. Remember “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” so do things differently and shake it up!

Tip Number 10: Mind yourself - Deep breathing and mindfulness

The benefits of mindfulness relaxation have been well known for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. It helps reduce stress and improves focus and concentration.

Make mindfulness relaxation an everyday activity and part of your quit smoking strategy. Simply find a quiet space where you can sit undisturbed for ten minutes, close your eyes and concentrate entirely on your breathing and the moment of now.

Really notice the subtle changes in your physiology as you breathe in and as your breathe out. Fill your lungs deeply each time and gradually slow your breathing down to the point where you’re breathing to the pattern of 7/11. That is breathing in to the count of seven and out to the count of eleven.

Tip Number 11: Endorphins to go

What better way of reinforcing your good intentions to becoming a non smoker than to improve your fitness at the same time? Get out and go for a walk! Once a day every day commit to a thirty minute power walk. I can already hear the groans of dissent amongst you (of course you can find time).

Perhaps if you can afford it consider going the whole hog and joining a gym, or sign up to a sponsored run and benefit others in the process. Altruism is great and the endorphins whizzing around your brain will lift your mood and spirit and propel you on to greater things. Endorphins are a natural high and they are free too!

Tip number 12: Get professional support

Talk to your a quit smoking therapy specialist like Lee. An experienced hypnotherapist can genuinely help you quit.

Quitting smoking can be a real pain or a genuine pleasure – the choice is yours! So right at the outset decide to make it a pleasure and look forward to it. Focus on all of the wonderful benefits of being a natural non smoker and commit to achieving it.

The truth is that nobody is going to put a cigarette in your mouth but you, and it is always a choice! If you do this, you'll be well on your way to staying motivated and to your ultimate success.