The new year is in full swing in Chapin, SC, and many people make resolutions at the start of a year. Some people resolve to cut out sugar, or eat healthier, and some people decide to quit smoking. If your 2014 goal is to quit smoking, it is time to check in with your progress. Have you cut back or gone "cold turkey?" Or have you already given up and gone back to the habit? Today's blog discusses the benefits of using creative visualization to quit smoking, though this process can be used for many aspects in life. Take a moment to educate yourself on the benefits of creative visualization and how it can help you create a better, healthier life.
Quit Smoking with Creative Visualization
Would you believe you can tap into the same power NFL players employ to win championships and Einstein used to formulate the theory of relativity…to quit smoking? That power is creative visualization, and it can give you an edge over quitters relying on willpower and medication alone. This powerful tool addresses the psychological component of your addiction by enabling you to relearn how to react to smoking trigger situations and tasks. If you’ve tried to quit smoking and failed once or a hundred times, creative visualization can be your key to lasting success.
Scientists believe creative visualization works in the same way repeated thinking about an actual memory does – by wearing what amounts to a groove in the long-term-memory storage part of your brain. Athletes use the technique to imagine themselves in a game making all the right moves, as if they’re practicing their sport. Smokers who want to quit can “practice” in the same way to become non-smokers.
The first step in the process is to find out if you’re ready to quit smoking. If you are quitting for any reason other than your own, (your doctor told you to, your spouse/family wants you to) you will fail. Why? External motivation is not motivation at all, and your subconscious will rebel. Your desire to quit must be genuine and internal.
How can you get ready to quit if you’re not? You can start by examining why you started smoking in the first place. Some people say stress reduction. Now, that may be why you continued, once your body figured out how to utilize nicotine. But when you started, inhaling smoke was about as relaxing as a Stephen King novel.
The truth is, you began smoking for some amazingly foolish reasons. Peer pressure. Fear. Insecurity. You must face the uncomfortable fact that you made a life-changing decision based on how cool you looked. If you honestly confront that reality, you can make a conscious decision to stop thinking that cigarette smoking defines who you are.
First, find a comfortable spot, like a favorite chair or your bed. Block out all interruptions: unplug the phone and make sure the family’s asleep or out of the house. Dim the lights. Relax by breathing deeply, slowly and steadily in through your nose and out through your mouth. Close your eyes and clear your mind of the grocery list, the chores and tomorrow’s meeting.
Visualize all the elements of smoking that disgust, distress, inconvenience and alienate you. Think in detail and use all your senses. Some of the universal things are bad breath; smelly clothes and home; inability to laugh without coughing; burns; brown teeth; charred lungs; yellow-streaked heart; cold hands and feet; ashes on everything; being ostracized by non-smokers; breathlessness. Write them all down.
During each half-hour visualization session, dwell on one aspect. Use all your senses. Imagine what you must smell like to other people. How your phlegmy wheeze sounds. How dull your hair looks. How your mouth tastes. Immerse yourself in the revolting images until you can’t stand it anymore. Stay with this series of visualizations until you are convinced that smoking is disgusting.
The next series of visualizations is more pleasant. Picture yourself in an enjoyable social situation, one where you would normally smoke. Use all your senses to create the picture – the sound of the music, the smell and taste of party food, the physical sensation of dancing or laughing. The crucial point of the visualization is you’re not smoking, but you’re still having a wonderful time. Chances are, the first few times you try this, cigarettes will sneak back into the picture because smokers smoke even in their daydreams.
Next, picture yourself at an event where smoking is not allowed. Imagine you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not distracted by thoughts of when you get to leave and have a smoke. Play out these visualizations for as long and with as many variations as you like, as long as it’s pleasant and doesn’t include you smoking.
Once you’ve got the hang of visualization, and you’ve played out social situations until smoking doesn’t creep into the picture anymore, it’s time to list all the things in your life associated with smoking. Some of the most common are after a meal; with coffee or an alcoholic drink; while on the phone; driving in the car; during a confrontation; after a stressful situation. You’ll want to choose one of these scenarios per visualization session. Repeat each instance for as many sessions as necessary until the mind-movie is smoke-free.
If you have physical withdrawal symptoms, see your doctor about any of the excellent smoking-cessation drugs and aids available. During this time, cut yourself some slack. Let the housework go. Go out to eat. Exercise to relieve stress and stave off weight gain. And don’t forget to relax and do things you enjoy. Given enough time and practice, your mind can achieve great things for you.
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